Tatmadaw incursions in Karen State
The Karen National Union (KNU), alongside the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), were instrumental in encouraging a number of Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) to sign Myanmar’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement on 15 October 2015. It was the actions of these two groups and the positions they have held within the armed ethnic resistance movement that allowed for the peace process, no matter how flawed it may be, to move forward.
That said, however, despite their support for the process and the current government’s efforts, through the Union Peace Conference, to secure a more permanent peace, both groups have found themselves attacked by the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw. While such skirmishes were expected initially due to little official demarcation of territory and a lack of conflict solving mechanisms,[i] one and a half years later it would appear the Myanmar military is selectively applying the NCA in areas where it operates.
Most recently the Tatmadaw has attempted to exert its influence further into the KNU controlled 5th Brigade area of Mutraw (Papun) resulting in human rights abuses, displacement and the unlawful killing of a local environmental activist.
[i] According to Saw Mu Heh, KNU 5th Brigade Commander, the 5th Brigade had told the Army where Myanmar Army troops could operate. See the video ‘The Nightmare Returns: Karen hopes for peace and stability dashed by Burma Army’s actions’, KPSN, April 2018