‘We are no longer part of nationwide ceasefire agreement’: Myanmar’s KNU

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As the junta’s military has already destroyed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), it no longer needs to be abided by, the Karen National Union (KNU), one of Myanmar’s oldest ethnic armed groups, said at a press conference on Aug. 10, The Irrawaddy reports.

“We no longer have any cause to abide by the NCA because the [junta] military has already destroyed the principles written in Chapter 1, which is the heart of the agreement,” said Padoh Saw Tah Doh Moo, secretary general of the KNU, at a press conference to mark 100 days since a new KNU Central Executive Committee was elected at the organization’s last congress.

The military coup on Feb. 1, 2021 and the subsequent brutal crackdowns, violence, atrocities, and war crimes committed by the junta’s military were offenses that violated the NCA and rendered it void, he said. Since then, the KNU has been fighting against the regime.

It is not the first time the KNU has declared the NCA to be defunct. It officially stated in September 2021 that the agreement was no longer valid due to the military coup.

The KNU became an NCA signatory in October 2015, joining several other ethnic armed groups and the government of Myanmar.

To date, there are 10 NCA signatories. Three of them, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), Chin National Front (CNF) and KNU are engaged in heavy fighting against the junta’s military, and are supporting newly founded people’s resistance groups in the areas under their control.

In May, the KNU released a statement vowing to continue to work with other pro-democratic forces to end military rule. The junta’s National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee condemned the KNU’s statement as not constructive, counter to the NCA and likely to lead to confrontation.

The junta’s committee has held so-called peace talks since late 2022 with seven of 10 NCA signatories and three non-signatories: the United Wa State Army, the National Democratic Alliance Army and the Shan State Progress Party.

Most Myanmar people, both inside the country and abroad, have slammed those ethnic armed groups—especially the NCA signatories—that have agreed to attend talks held by the junta, calling them “the ones who shake bloodstained hands”, a reference to the junta military’s terror campaign, which has included over 140 massacres of poor civilians so far.

The junta’s invitation to talks was rejected by the KNU, ABSDF and CNF, as well as the non-signatory Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Karenni Army. Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG), whose People’s Defense Force (PDF) is fighting against the junta military throughout the country, was also not invited.

At the Aug. 10 press conference, the KNU leaders who were newly elected by the organization’s 17th Congress, which was held in May, reported their experiences over the past three months and discussed their upcoming plans.

The group said it was determined to continue the war of resistance against the Myanmar military junta, which has escalated its savage aerial bombardments throughout the country, and shared its concern for the need to protect and help the many victims of the atrocities of the junta’s military.

It also said that since the coup, nearly 600,000 people have fled their homes due to clashes in its territory.

Padoh Saw Tah Doh Moo called on the international community to put more pressure on the junta and impose more arms embargos, as well as to assist in the humanitarian crisis.

He also reaffirmed that, “Since the NCA no longer exists as they [the junta] have trampled on the heart of it,” the KNU is no longer party to it, adding, “It has nothing at all to do with us, if they use the NCA to delude the international community or the people.”

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