Mon, Karen Forces Announce Return of Stability in Contested Areas

Friday, November 1, 2019

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Karen National Union (KNU) released a joint statement on Wednesday declaring conditions stable in areas where the two groups recently had clashes.

The NMSP and KNU fought on October 17 in Balae Donfive village in Karen State’s Phayarthonsu Township and the Ye Chaung Phyar area in Dawei District, Tanintharyi. They also clashed near Ngar Kalay Chaung village in Mon State’s Ye Township on October 20.

Leaders convened to discuss the matter on October 23. According to the joint statement from the groups, they reached an agreement to stop further clashes.

“We have implemented the agreement. We have already carried out observations on the ground situation and removed unexploded ammunition from the contested area,” Lt-Col M. Seik Chan, the commander of the NMSP’s Battalion 5, told NMG. “Local people have resettled in the area again. We have already opened communication channels like before.”

According to Lt-Col M. Seik Chan, both the NMSP and KNU participated in the process to make the area safe again, and met with locals from the Karen and Mon communities.

More than 100 Karen and Mon people sought refuge in Phayarthonsu town because of the fighting in the township.

A KNU officer in charge of the Phayarthonsu area, said that they have negotiated to hold a joint public meeting to strengthen mutual trust and unity between the KNU and NMSP.

The NMSP and KNU initially engaged in intense clashes over territory in 1988. Fighting did not reignite until 2016, again over territory, as well as issues concerning timber smuggling. The groups have had at least six clashes in Tanintharyi Region’s Yephyu Township in recent years and in Mon State’s Ye Township.

Both organizations are signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the Burmese government and military. The NMSP signed it in February 2018, and the KNU signed it in October 2015.