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Interview: General Saw Bo Mya of Karen National Union on KNU-SPDC Talks - 2004-02-26


General Saw Bo Mya, Vice-Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the largest ethnic rebel group the Karen National Union, said the talks he had had with the military government in Rangoon last month was fruitful.

In an interview with VOA Burmese Service, General Mya recounted his experience at the cease-fire talks with Burmese Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt. He said there was mutual respect and both sides had a genuine desire to make the cease-fire talks and peace work in Burma. Ultimately, he said he believes the process will be successful.

He told VOA that it was he who had approved the release of the video-taped conversation with the prime minister (which VOA also aired) with the tacit approval of General Khin Nyunt himself.

In connection with the attack by the KNU Third Brigade on a Burmese military outpost on February 23, General Mya said the respective commander disobeyed his order to observe the cease-fire and will be duly punished. A few buildings and an arsenal were burned down in the attack.

The KNU leader also said the entire Karen people and all of the leaders in his group fully support his peace initiative with Rangoon. However, he said, one or two who are now opposing it might have to be removed from the rebel organization.

He reiterated that it was successive Burmese leaders’ high-handed treatment of the minorities that culminated in the KNU taking up arms against Rangoon for over 50 years and that KNU has no hatred par se against the Burmese people.

General Mya also said some of the pro-democracy groups including the Thai-based All Burma Students’ Democratic Front and the Washington-based National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma he helped establish in the beginning, are now very much involved in raising funds for project-centered operations.

The military government threw a birthday party for the Karen leader in Rangoon before winding his trip to Burma after several decades. He turned 77 while he was there. General Mya said both SPDC officers and KNU members of his delegation respectively sang Burmese and Karen songs at his birthday party which was enjoyed by all.

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