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Karen National Union (KNU) Chairman Mutu Say Poe pledged support for the peace process, while calling for all sides to desist from hostilities.
In a speech to commemorate the 66th Karen Resistance Day on 31 January, he said, “We have witnessed the population suffer – not only the Karen but people on both sides of the conflict.”
Addressing a local audienceat the Karen National Liberation Army’s 7thBrigade headquarters in eastern Burma, he said, “We will never be able to stop killing one another as long as the conflict continues. Therefore we will move from a bloody theatre to a bloodless one.”
Mutu Say Poe said that only through cooperation and peaceful negotiation could national reconciliation and political resolution come about.
“Instead of armed engagement, now is the time to learn how to prevent armed clashes from breaking out and to give our comprehensive support to the process of political dialogue,” he said.
KNU General-Secretary Saw Kwe Htoo Win, however, said there is a long way ahead in political dialogue and negotiations with the government due to a deadlock in ceasefire talks.
The ceremony was attended by 3,000 people, including representatives from the Karen National Union-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC) and the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF).
Formerly known as the Karen National Defence Organisation, the KNU was founded in 1947, with the 31 January 1949 marking the date that it launched armed struggle against the ruling government.