A meeting between Myanmar military regime leaders and the former chair of the Karen National Union (KNU) held over the weekend would not have any effect on the Karen people’s ongoing armed uprising against the junta, a KNU official said.
On Saturday, former KNU chairman Saw Mutu Say Phoe met with military coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw for what the junta described as peace talks. He was accompanied at the talks by former KNU Central Committee member Saw Roger Khin and Padoh Shwe Moung, the current chairman of KNU’s Dooplaya District.
Dooplaya District is one of the most restive areas within the KNU’s territory, and the scene of frequent clashes between the group’s fighters and the military regime.
In response to the meeting, KNU spokesperson Saw Taw Nee told the media on Sunday that the group led by the former chairman did not represent the KNU.
“The meeting has nothing whatsoever to do with the KNU. So, it cannot have any effect. I want to urge people not to worry too much,” he said.
Speaking to Karen National Media, the KNU described Dooplaya District chairman Padoh Shwe Moung as “irresponsible”, adding that the vice chairman and the chief of the KNU brigade in the district, as well as the district general secretary, were dealing with day-to-day military and political affairs in the area.
The country’s oldest ethnic revolutionary organization, the KNU has two armed wings: the Karen National Liberation Army and the Karen National Defense Organization. It signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015, but the group’s leadership announced in August that it was no longer part of the agreement, which it said was rendered void by the 2021 coup.
Since the coup, the KNU has provided shelter to thousands of anti-coup activists including politicians, lawmakers, striking government staff and artists fleeing arrest by the junta.
The ethnic group has also provided military training to several thousand anti-regime youth activists who have gone on to become members of People’s Defense Force groups (PDFs) under the civilian National Unity Government (NUG).
Currently, the KNU is the country’s most active ethnic armed group, fighting the military junta alongside the PDFs not only in Karen and Mon states, but also in Tanintharyi and Bago regions.
Alongside the PDFs, the group has also stepped up attacks in and around the regime’s administrative capital Naypyitaw, threatening the military junta in its seat of power.
According to a statement released by the junta, Saw Mutu Sae Phoe and his delegation said during their meeting with regime leaders that they have stood firmly for peace since signing the NCA, which they said was a legal agreement that would last forever.
A political analyst told The Irrawaddy that while the meeting between the KNU’s former leaders and the junta chief might cause some complications, it did not pose a serious concern as the delegation members do not represent the KNU.
He said it was inconsiderate of the former KNU leaders to act against the wishes of their former organization.
“Mutu Say Phoe and Saw Roger Khin were top leaders of the KNU for years. Leaders of a group must be loyal to their organization. They should not create complications for their former organizations,” the analyst said.
Sounce: The Irrawaddy