Govt Shouldn’t Exclude AA from Peace Process, KNLA Says

By Network Media Group
Friday, August 21, 2020

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) criticized the government’s designation of the Arakan Army (AA), fighting with the Burma Army at the country’s western borders, as a terrorist group.

Excluding AA from the peace process, KNLA argues, undermines efforts to build durable peace in the country.

Brig-Gen Mann Shar Htu Wong, an associate adjutant general and spokesperson for KNLA, told NMG “the government must give equal rights to every ethnic group” and “invite AA to the table for discussions on political and military matters.” He stated that the government must eliminate its terrorist designation of the ethnic armed organization (EAO) and start political negotiations immediately.

Despite the government’s views on the matter, KNLA considers AA a revolutionary army in a legitimate armed struggle for ethnic national liberation and equality.

The government didn’t invite AA to the 21st Century Panglong Conference, Shar Htu Wong said. “I don’t think it’s in line with an all-inclusive policy. We want AA to be included in the (peace) process.”

Zaw Htay, spokesperson for the Burma government and director-general of the State Counsellor’s Office, told the media the government couldn’t invite AA to the peace conference, which concludes this Friday (August 21), because it’s a terrorist organization. He explained that all of the EIA’s other alliances were invited.

But the other members of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) declined the government’s invitation due to AA’s exclusion.

Only the ten EIAs that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement joined the conference along with the government and Burma Army leaders.

“If all the stakeholders joined the conference, perhaps something positive can come out of it. As it stands, we can’t call it genuine peace because there isn’t inclusive participation,” Mann Shar Htu Wong said.

If the government doesn’t find a way to resolve the conflict in Rakhine State, villagers will continue to face repression and affronts to security, causing them to struggle for their daily survival, he said. For genuine peace and the end of all armed conflicts, the government needs to invite all stakeholders to participate in the peace process.