"Time to lay the wreath?"
Karen Split Group Formed a New Group
By Shah Paung February 02, 2007 Irrawaddy
The break-away commander of the Karen National Union's 7th Brigade, Brig-Gen Htain Maung, has formed a new Karen organization, the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council. The announcement came on January 31, the 58th anniversary of the Karen revolution.
Htain Maung, promoted to major general, was named chairman of the new group. Lah Poe, the wife of the late Karen leader Gen Bo Mya, was named vice chairperson. She currently holds the position of chairperson of the Karen Women’s Organization.
Mahn Sha, the general secretary of the Karen National Union said, “We are not recognizing the groups." He said he could not say anything more until the KNU Central Committee meets. The KNU dismissed Htain Maung from his position on January 30 for his failure to follow KNU policies.
Col Ner Dah Mya, son of Bo Mya, tactical commander of the Karen National Libration Army and commander of KNLA Battalion 201, was appointed secretary-1 of the group. He was promoted to brigadier general.
His brother, Col Nay Kaw Mya, also known as “Saw Nay Kaw” has also joined the new group.
Pastor Timothy, a humanitarian worker who participated in ceasefire meetings between the Karen and the Burmese junta in 2003 and who was dismissed by the KNU’s foreign affairs department in June, 2005, was appointed joint-secretary-1.
The National Democratic Front, an ethnic alliance group, will continue to support the KNU main organization, said Hkun Okker, general secretary of the NDF, which was founded in 1976 by 11 armed ethnic groups, including the KNU.
Htain Maung, who has been involved in the Karen revolution since 1949, has been a KNU central committee member and commander of the 7th Brigade since 1970. He held separate meetings with the Burmese military government without approval of the KNU leadership, which led to a separate "peace" agreement in January.
Aye Tha Aung, secretary of the Arakan National League for Democracy said, “We are sad because of what's happening between the KNU and the 7th Brigade." It can create problems for other ethic groups, he said.
The KNU/KNLAPC group was not available for comment on Friday.
Karen representatives from inside and outside Burma are now gathering for a “Karen Unity Seminar” from Feb. 1-4 in a KNU control area along the Thai-Burma border.
According to general secretary Mahn Sha, four main issues will be discussed: The unity of Karen people, the current political situation in Burma and preparation for a new generation of Karen leadership.
“Karen unity is our principle goal,” he said.
More than 50 representatives are expected at the conference. Other issues to be discussed will include Karen resettlement to third countries, Karen views on regime, KNU ceasefire talks and the Salween River dam project. The Karen Unity Seminar began in 1999.