KNU Head for Peace Table
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KNU Head for Peace Table

By THE IRRAWADDY Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Foreign-born Brig-Gen Saw Hsar Gay joined the Karen National Union (KNU) in 1989. Today he is the KNU’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, is a central committee member, and heads the Special Warfare Branch for the group's military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).

Saw Hsar Gay represented the KNU as its political representative for Portugal and Spain as far back as 1995. He has been received in more than 20 countries by prime ministers, foreign ministers and government delegations, and has served as a KNU representative within the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB).

He spoke recently to The Irrawaddy senior reporter Saw Yan Naing.

Question: The KNU formed a “Committee for the Emergence of Peace” earlier this month after an emergency meeting of the central committee. Why?

Answer: The recent initiative to propose peace talks and subsequent meeting with U Aung Min created the necessity to prepare for laying down a politically coherent and coordinated body to deal with the practical, logistical and political necessities if a new bout of talks develop.

In the past, at times there was a certain dis-coordination and misunderstandings regarding the negotiations due to the fact that meetings and interviews were sometimes contradictory or less clear. Many people were getting involved without proper tasking and without understanding our policy, and this had to be rectified.

Q: What is the objective of the Committee for the Emergence of Peace? How many members does it have and who will lead it?

A: The committee is composed of seven members and is led by KNU Vice Chairman Saw David Thackerbaw. This committee is tasked with the coordination of the whole process and is not a delegation. It will coordinate and set down policy.

Q:We heard the KNU will hold peace talks with the Burmese government. Where and when will the talks take place? Did you receive any invitation from Naypyidaw?

A: on the 19th of this month we will have an informal meeting with U Aung Min, but it will be more to share intentions and clarify our political positions.

Q:How serious is the Burmese government this time? It has approached the KNU for peace talks several times.

A: We still see that it looks like the old divide-and-conquer tactics used in Khin Nyunt times. It looks as if it really is only based on the 2008 constitution, and the non-disintegration of the Union, as well as the non-disintegration of national unity, and the durability of sovereignty.
What started with a ceasefire was followed by economical development like logging, mining and contract farming without any political dialogue.

Q:What are the main issues the KNU will discuss with the government, and what are KNU’s expectations from the talks?

A: We believe that the solution of the county's problems will have to be solved through substantial and meaningful political dialogue on a national level and by all stakeholders, especially the ethnic nationalities. Therefore our position is clear: we feel that there must be a nationwide ceasefire so all stakeholders can freely meet and the political negotiations should be held through one body—the UNFC.

Our political principles remain the same as before: federalism, equality, self-determination. We believe that unilateral talks on a one-to-one basis are self-destructive. In fact, our position has not changed over the last years and is consistent with our constitution and Saw Ba U Gyi's principles.

Q: Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Brigade 5 has already signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government. So, how is the relationship between the KNU and the DKBA?

A: We have always said that we are not the DKBA's enemy and we don’t want to fight them. We can talk to them informally whenever we want.

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Ohn Wrote:
These are less of "peace deal" than business transaction. But KNU has been steadfast champions of the people for more than half a century.

Here is the deal. Bring back all the displaced people who against their will has to slave away in the foreign lands suffering all forms of abuse by the foreigners because their own countrymen were more cruel and more suppressing.

Bring them back to peace, work and dignity.

That's the real remit. Not fancy titles and more slavery in different name and different masters.

Kyaw Wrote:
Do not hurry for talks, Wait for a while. You should help in finishing jobs of the KIA to occupy Naypyidaw. Apparently, the Government troops can not confront KIA with very heavy lost in all fronts, soon, KIA will arrive to Naypyidaw.

Norman Hla Wrote:
Karen did not sign Panglong agreement but Karen just demands Federal Union, not separation without Bama dominanization(equal right). It is fair enough in the respect of ethical and moral characters in Karen. If bama army (than shwe) does not agree those right , Karen can itself to be union with neighbor Thailand or rich China to avoid than shwe's bully.Then, Delta Karen can move to live in KNU headquarter villages near Thailand border for having full protection and they can sell their lands to Bama military or Singapore or China or India or Russia in Delta region with tender system. Forget about Than shwe bama anytime by Karen as it is Karen's own right for their ancient land and their culture. Karen has a right to join or be union with anybody or any country Karen likes. There are no more killing fields enjoyed by than shwe military regime.There is no integration (union) and disintegration of Burma for Karen or all ethnics after death of General Aung san. Karen does not need to miss bama.

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