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UN Must Seize KNU Ceasefire Opportunity for Nationwide Burma Ceasefire

By Burma Campaign UK  •  September 16, 2010

The Burma Campaign UK today called on the United Nations and international community to seize the opportunity created by the KNU declaring a one-day ceasefire to turn it into a nationwide ceasefire.

The Karen National Union, the largest armed group which has not signed a ceasefire with the dictatorship, has announced it will observe a unilateral one-day ceasefire on September 21st, designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Day of Peace.

“The Burma Campaign UK warmly welcomes announcement by the Karen National Union that it will hold a one day ceasefire. The UN should immediately call on the dictatorship and other armed groups in Burma to also respect the one-day ceasefire,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “It is the dictatorship in Burma which is the aggressor, deliberately attacking civilians in breach of the Geneva Conventions and Rome Statute. This is an opportunity to pressure the dictatorship to end its attacks. The ball is now in the court of the generals.”

Although UN bodies have repeatedly called on all sides in Burma to end armed hostilities, no serious effort has been made by the United Nations persuade the dictatorship to end its attacks against civilians and negotiate a ceasefire.

The Karen National Union (KNU) took up arms to defend ethnic Karen people in 1949, following attacks on Karen civilians, and communal violence stoked by elements with the government. It is believed to be the longest running armed conflict in the world. Previous negotiations between the KNU and dictatorship failed, with the KNU claiming that the regime only demanded complete surrender with no compromise. A gentlemen’s agreement to end hostilities in 2004 fell apart as the Burmese Army continued to attack civilians.

The UN has repeatedly reported human rights abuses by the Burmese Army in Karen State which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

For more information contact Mark Farmaner on 44(0)7941239640.

The KNU statement can be viewed here.

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This post is in: Press Release

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