“It is not enough to say,”we must not wage war.”It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (California, 1967)
For the KNU the Peace Process means seeking reconciliation, after over 60 years of armed conflict. Resolving Burma’s armed ethnic conflicts includes cessation of hostilities through ceasefire negotiations, creating a space to gain stability in the conflict-affected areas. Then resolving both the root causes of the political problems and the consequences of over 60 years of armed conflicts through peaceful negotiations. Looking at the history of Burma, it is recognised that peaceful reconciliation through negotiations is the only way to solve the long-suffering problem of Burma – but trust is limited, after decades of conflict.
Saw Ba U Gyi, the founding leader of the KNU, stated that he would struggle for the gain the Karen cause without spilling Karen blood. However, in 1949 the KNU had no alternative but to join into the armed revolution because of the political circumstances at that time. Since then, the KNU has continuously sought opportunities to solve the problems through political means. However, during over 60 years of civil war the opportunity for genuine negotiations was never presented.
On 18 Aug 2011 President U Thein Sein extended an invitation to the ethnic armed groups offering peace talks and ceasefire agreements to “gain permanent peace”. The KNU welcomes the initiative taken by President U Thein Sein in expressing to seek a way to solve ethnic conflicts through political negotiations.
In January 2012, the KNU entered into a preliminary ceasefire agreement with the government. Until now, the KNU has been tirelessly leading the way forward in the Peace Process, in order to secure a credible and sustainable bilateral and Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The KNU are attempting to find ways to strengthened and legitimatise through the inclusive participation of all the stakeholders in the Peace Process. When analysing Peace Processes around the world, experience shows while many stakeholders are committed to peace, there are often those who oppose peace for a variety of reasons. The Peace Process in Burma faces similar difficulties and struggles.
The KNU understands that the Peace Process is still incomplete, and that many problems remain to be solved. The KNU believes that the Peace Process can bring change and hope for all people including regional stability, and contribute towards a better future for Burma. Through the legacy of mistrust from over 60 years of civil war, the peace seed that has been sown needs to be strengthen with the participation of all stakeholders, including the Tatmataw, Government Hluttaw, Ethnic Armed Groups, Political Parties, Civil Society Groups, and all the people of Burma, with the participation and assistance of the International Community.
The KNU is honest and genuine on their beliefs that the Peace Process can protect the interests of all Karen people, bringing space for reconciliation, and laying the foundations for a federal union through peaceful political change in Burma.
The KNU’s main objective in the Peace Process include:
- To sign a Preliminary Ceasefire Agreement.
- To create a stable environment through the ceasefire agreement implementation. In order to enter into a stable political dialogue without the threat of armed conflicts, a space needs to be created that brings stability, and benefits the people in the conflict-affected areas.
- To do that the KNU needs to be safeguarded that the mechanisms of the ceasefire implementations, guarantee the ceasefire and security of people in the conflict-affected areas. Ceasefires cannot be guaranteed only by formal agreements, but must be consolidated through mechanisms, such as Ceasefire Codes of Conduct and Monitoring Systems, etc.
- Following negotiations, the framework must be laid mutually then the process for Political Dialogue will be in place.
- Issues that are urgent priority at the beginning stages of the Political Dialogue must be the safeguarding and the legitimacy of the Peace Process to continue regardless of any government that is formed after the 2015 elections.
- The National Accord that is agreed from the Political Dialogue of the Peace Process will be laid to form the basic foundations in establishing a future Federal Union.