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KNU urges DKBA renegades to return to mother organisation

File photo of some DKBA renegade soldiers. (Photo: Francis Wade / DVB)

The Karen National Union (KNU) has called on a breakaway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) to disband and re-join the KNU, just nine months after the renegades, led by Saw Kyaw Thet and Saw San Aung, broke away from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army.

The KNU on 4 October released a statement noting that the DKBA broke away from the KNU in 1994 to become a pro-government militia, and therefore its principles were against those of its mother organisation. However it suggested the breakaway faction re-adopt those principles by abandoning the ranks of the DKBA and returning to the KNU.

“It’s a very long history to explain – but the group name DKBA originated back in 1994. There have been many twists and turns throughout the years, but I’ll just skip those parts,” said KNU General-Secretary Saw Thaw Thi Bwe.

“Currently, there are DKBA splinter groups in the picture and we would like them to have a clear view on where we stand. That is why we released this statement; we want to give them another chance.”

The Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, formerly the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army’s 5th Brigade, refused to accept the Burmese military’s plan in 2010 to transform the militia into a Border Guard Force. However, the “Benevolent” armed group did go along with the government in signing last year’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, as did the KNU.

Saw Kyaw Thet and Saw San Aung’s renegade faction has frequently engaged in armed clashes against Burmese government forces in eastern Burma in recent years, causing the displacement of hundreds of local villagers.

The KNU in 2013 formed the Unity Committee for Karen Armed Groups, aiming to reunite all breakaway factions once again under its political leadership.