Tensions are high after armed Burma Army troops breached the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) by entering the Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO) headquarters territory of Oo Kray Kee Village in Waw Lay Sub-Township, Myawaddy District.
The KNDO Chief of Staff Brigadier-General Saw Neh Dah Mya said that at around 2pm on 23 April 20 armed Burma Army soldiers, led by Operations Commander Col Myo Kyaw Thu, of Operation (2) under the 19th Military Operations Command (MOC-19) entered the area of Oo Kray Kee.
This breached the NCA and nearly caused fighting to break out.
Under the NCA military code of conduct free movement of signatories’ unarmed troops is permitted in all areas except security-restricted areas. Armed troops can only enter other signatories’ areas after having obtained permission from the group whose area it is.
The KNDO is a defensive militia of the Karen National Union (KNU) who were one of eight ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) to sign the NCA with the government on 15 October 2015.
Brig-Gen Saw Neh Dah Mya said: “The Burma Army informed us about their visit. They said they were coming [here] on duty. We didn’t allow them. We told them that we would shoot at them if they come. Even though we tried to stop them they tried to use the public as hostages when they came. We didn’t fire at them because we were considerate of the public’s lives.”
The fully armed Burma Army troops came with two vehicles on which they put at least four villagers. They drove around Oo Kray Kee village taking photos for half an hour before leaving.
Brig-Gen Saw Neh Dah Mya said that the Burma Army should avoid such actions and show respect during the peace-building process.
The incident was reported to the vice chairman of the Union Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-U), a body set up as part of the NCA process to investigate breaches of the NCA rules. It was also reported to General Saw Jonny the Commander-in-Chief of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), another armed wing of the KNU.
JMC Technical Team member Saw Eh K'Lu Say from the KNU said: “Such kind of incidents may arise before the troop deployment issues and monitoring tasks of both armies have been clearly carried out. When we carry them out step-by-step, they will gradually become resolved.”
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited in English by Mark Inkey for BNI