KNF pledges ‘no armed activities’, cooperation with security forces during peace process
MEHADI HASSAN PALASH
The Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) has promised to refrain from any armed activities as long as the peace process is ongoing. They also committed to cooperating with the security forces to promote harmony and improve law and order.
On Sunday, November 5, at 11:00 AM in Ruma’s Munlay Para, KNF leaders signed a memorandum of understanding with the Peace Establishment Committee led by the chairman of Bandarban Hill District Council. This memorandum was signed following the first in-person meeting between the two parties. Additionally, the memorandum commits both sides to resolving any emerging issues through dialogue.
Following the meeting, the Peace Committee’s spokesperson, Kanchan Joy Thanchangya, stated that the meeting was attended by eight members, led by Kyaw Shwe Hla, Chairman of the Peace Establishment Committee, and five members led by Lal N Lian Bawm, the Chief Advisor of KNF founder Nathan Bawm. Additionally, representatives from the administration, including Additional District Commissioner Saiful Islam, Additional Superintendent of Police Shah Alam, and senior officials from law enforcement and intelligence agencies were present. Notably, there were no administration representatives in any of the previous virtual meetings with KNF.
Centering on the meeting, strict security measures were implemented in the vicinity of it, with the army, BGB, police, and intelligence agencies taking security precautions.
Both the Peace Committee and the KNF had held several meetings in the past but they were virtual. This was in fact the first in-person meeting that was finally held after going through several delays due to the selection of a venue and several issues. During the meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed, with KNF submitting its 6-point demand to the Prime Minister through the Peace Committee and demanding the lifting of restrictions on the purchase of daily necessities by the Bawm community in markets and the unconditional release of 61 people who arrested in the name of KNF members.
The Peace Committee’s Chairman Kyaw Shwe Hla, who is also chairman of Bandarban Hill District Council, said that the first face-to-face meeting with KNF has been completed very cordially and peacefully.
He said that another meeting would be held in December. He expected that the ongoing problems will be resolved through this meeting.
The four terms of the agreement with KNF are as follows:
- Both sides are committed to resolving any emerging issues through dialogue. KNF will not engage in any armed activities during the peace process and will continue to make its utmost efforts to maintain regional communal harmony. For this purpose, a cooperative relationship will be maintained with the security forces to maintain law and order.
- The government will take necessary measures to create a conducive environment for all members of the Kuki community to return to their homes.
- KNF will submit proposals on education, health, food assistance, and employment on the basis of qualifications for the development of the Kuki community, which will be given priority consideration.
- The next dialogue for the purpose of peace will be held on December 13, 2023, with the date to be determined by mutual discussion. KNF will refrain from any armed activities until the next dialogue.
At the meeting, KNF presented a six-point demand to the Prime Minister through the peace committee:
- To establish a “Kuki-Chin Territorial Council” (KTC) for the purpose of protecting the disappearing cultural characteristics of the backward and disadvantaged Kuki-Chin people of the peripheral areas and establishing peace and overall development.
- To completely entrust the KTC with all powers related to land and tourism.
- To empower the KTC with all powers, including recruiting members for the police force in the designated area.
- To withdraw all cases, arrest warrants, and warrants issued against KNF armed members and other innocent persons during KNF’s armed movement, as soon as possible after their surrender of arms and return to normal life, and to waive the sentences given in absentia. If any armed member of KNF or innocent persons in the name of KNF are still in jail, they must be released unconditionally.
- To take necessary measures to repatriate and rehabilitate the Kuki-Chin refugees who have taken refuge in neighboring areas, including Mizoram, India, and Paletwa, Myanmar, at different times due to the independence war in 1971 and the large-scale military operations in the Kuki-Chin region in 2022 and 2023.
- To form an armed infantry battalion called “Kuki-Chin Armed Battalion” (KAB): To protect the lives and property of innocent people, including hill-Bengalis, in the sensitive border areas of the country’s territory, to suppress terrorism, and to carry out all activities for the purpose of establishing peace in a neutral manner, it is necessary to form a separate “Kuki-Chin Armed Battalion” or KAB in this area with Kuki-Chin people in special need. KAB will be under the supervision of the Area Commander (GOC) of the Bangladesh Army in Chittagong under the Ministry of Defense.
The MoU was signed by Chairman of the Peace Committee Kyaw Shwe Hla and Senior Adviser and Team Leader of KNF Founder Nathan Bawm and KNF Representative for Peace Dialogue Ander Lal N Lian Bawm.