Recent developments in Karen State in Burma have raised serious questions about the government’s sincerity in its peace negotiations with the Karen National Union (KNU), the European Karen Network (EKN) said in a statement released on Thursday.
After more than 63 years of conflict, building trust is an essential first step if future dialogue leading to a permanent ceasefire and a political solution to conflict in Burma is to be successful, said the EKN.
“By seeking to divide the Karen National Union and encouraging some members to set up an unauthorised liaison office, the government of Burma is not acting in an honest and constructive manner that will create trust,” the statement said.
“The government of Burma appears intent on continuing to use divide and rule tactics against the Karen. The use of such tactics can threaten the entire peace process,” it added.
If the government of Burma wanted to demonstrate to the Karen and to the world that it was genuine in wanting dialogue and peace, it would not seek to use divide and rule tactics, it said and would withdraw permission for the unauthorised liaison office to open.
“We are also concerned that international aid money that should be used to help the needy and promote peace is being used in a political manner in collusion with the Burmese government,” said the statement. “We are concerned about the role of some individuals working for the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative with regards to the unauthorised liaison office. The way that this and other peace funds are operating, with a lack of transparency and proper consultation with the Karen political and community organisations, is creating suspicion and mistrust."
“We call on the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative to publish details of all meetings and conversations held with those involved in the unauthorised liaison office, and also to publish all internal memo’s, emails and other correspondence, and those with and by consultants, relating to this matter,” said the statement.