In the midst of discussions about Burma’s reforms, the situation in Burma’s conflict zones requires constant attention. As Burma’s history has shown, ceasefires along do not mean lasting peace, which is a major reason many ethnic armed groups are pushing for national dialogue.
Today, the Karen National Union held a press conference and laid out their vision of what needs to happen to bring real peace. The ceasefire that was signed last month has not let to a total cessation of attacks against civilians, and the Burma Army continues to move troops into Karen areas.
The KNU’s four-step roadmap of essential stages that will be required to achieve genuine and sustainable peace in Burma:
1. Preliminary ceasefire stage
2. Durable ceasefire stage
3. Initial political dialogue, resolution of underlying political problems, and national reconciliation
4. Political participation
As Naw Zipporah Sein, General Secretary of the KNU, stated in today’s press conference, “The KNU welcomes the
President’s Union Day speech. However, ethnic nationalities want a peace based on national equality and the right
to self-determination. Previous ceasefires were not successful because they did not address the political aspirations
of the ethnic nationality peoples.”
Also from the press release: “The KNU strongly believes politics—not just disarmament agreements—will be the key to enduring peace.”
The ceasefire with the Shan State Army (SSA) – South also seems to be crumbling, with new clashes happening. The fighting in Kachin state also continues with peace talks falling apart. There have also been recent reports of conflict in Karenni areas, with Burmese troops killing civilians and raping women.
A serious issue is the rift between Burma’s civilian government and the military. It is the civilian government that has signed the ceasefire, but the continual fighting is an indication that the military is still autonomous in their action. Maj. Sai Lao Hseng, a spokesperson for SSA-South told the Irrawaddy Magazine, “There are military activities while the peace process is underway. The government army doesn’t follow the government peace process. So we have to be alert and aware of the division between the government and the military.”