Karen National Union
ကရင် အမျိုးသား အစည်းအရုံး
Government Name: Kayin National Union (KNU)
Armed Wing: Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)
PPST, PPWT/CT, UPDJC, JMC member
Founded: February 5th , 1947
The KNU has been fighting for self-determination and autonomy in one of the world’s longest
Arm Wings: KNLA
Central Executive Comittee
Head of Agriculture Department – P’doh Saw Dot Lay Mu
The Karen National Union (KNU) signed ceasefires at the state and union levels in January and April 2012. The group signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on October 15th, 2015, and played a leading role in the peace process along with 10 other ethnic armed groups that signed the NCA.
However, on January 26, 2019, the KNU issued a statement calling for common ground between either the Tatamaw (military) or the government and the group in light of the obstacles and challenges in the peace process and the misinterpretation of the wording of the NCA. It also issued a six-point statement on May 27th, 2020, including holding public consultations in the KNU-controlled areas as the first priority to strengthen the ceasefire and conducting regional development activities only after the ceasefire is strengthened.
During the peace process under the NCA, there were repeated clashes with the Tatmadaw over the KNU’s activities, as well as clashes between the two sides over the Tatmadaw’s construction of roads on the pretext of regional development. However, the KNU issued a statement on the 5th anniversary of the NCA in support of the 2020 general elections under the 2008 constitution and called on the people to cast their votes.
Although the group submitted its withdrawal from the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST), which includes armed groups that have signed a ceasefire, a summit of the 10 ceasefire signatories decided to exclude it from the team only temporarily in May 2019.
Karen Peace Support Team
8 April 2012
For full details see a statement document
KPST’s Role in Peace Negotiation
Ceasefire & Peace Process
6th ceasefire agreement signing group
Official delegation team
1. Kyakkyi, Bago Region – 9 Apr 12 – Saw Pah Khu
Economic liaison office
1. Mawlamyine (22/11/13)
Alliances: Karen armed groups
|#||Date||Location||Armed Group Rep||Govt Rep||Details|
|1||30/09/11||Mae Sot, Thailand||Col Aung||Preliminary meeting: KNU leaders told the government delegation that they didn’t want to hold peace talks with state-level officials because they lacked the authority to reach a binding agreement. The meeting was attended by Christian community leaders, Buddhist monks and MP Saw Boe Ni.|
|2||19/11/11||Mae Sai, Thailand||Aung Min||Informal ceasefire agreement: Mediators included: Nay Win Maung, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing and Tin Maung Than, Harn Yawngwe.|
|3||21/12/11||Mae Sot, Thailand||David Thakapaw||Aung Min||Preliminary meeting: Talks centered on rules and agreements that affect armed troops.
Other Karen delegates included: KNU military chief General Mutu Saypo, Pado David Htaw, Pado Ah toe, Hpaan District chairman Saw Aung Maw Aye, Saw Roger Khin of the KNU health department and KNU central committee member Saw Thawthikho. Mediators included: Dr. Nay Win Maung and Hla Maung Shwe.
|4||12/01/12||Hpa-an, Kayin||Mutu Say Poe||Aung Min||State-level 11 point ceasefire|
|5||05/04/12||Hpa-an, Kayin||Zipporah Sein||Aung Min||Cease-fire monitoring rules and liaison offices were discussed.|
|6||07/04/12||Yangon||Zipporah Sein||Aung Min||Union level 13 point ceasefire|
|7||09/04/12||Naypyitaw||Zipporah Sein||President Thein Sein||Goodwill visit|
|8||10/04/12||Hpa-an, Kayin||Zipporah Sein||Aung Min||Discussions on maintaining the ceasefire and the opening of liaison offices took place. There was a ceremony for the presentation of two vehicles for use at KNU liaison offices in Hpa-an and Dawei.
KNU delegates included: Chief of General Staff General Saw Mutu Say Poe.
Govt delegates included: U Khin Yi from the Union level Peace-making group, Kayin State Chief Minister U Zaw Min, state ministers and other officials.
|9||26/06/12||Mae Sot, Thailand||Zipporah Sein||Aung Min||Discussions centered on liaison offices that could serve for improving communication and negotiations between the KNU and govt. The KNU believed this could help maintain the ceasefire and work out problems resulting from ongoing land confiscation by the Myanmar military.|
|10||06/08/12||Myawaddy, Thailand||Zipporah Sein||Aung Min||Agreement to hold a 3-day meeting on Aug. 27 in Hpa-an to discuss the “ceasefire code of conduct” and the withdrawal of government troops.
Karen reps. included: Padoh Saw Thawthi Bwe, Naw May Oo and Saw Aung Win Shwe.
Govt reps included.: Immigration Minister Khin Ye, Soe Thein and the Karen State Minister Zaw Min.
Mediators: Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Hla Maung Shwe, Tin Maung Than from Myanmar Egress Company, Ngwe Soe, Ko Ko Maung and spouse Ma Su from the Dawei Princess Company.
|11||03/09/12||Hpa-an, Kayin||Zipporah Sein||Aung Min||34 point Code of Conduct agreement (in principle).
Govt reps included.: Immigration Minister Khin Ye, Soe Thein and Karen state Minister Zaw Min
Mediators included: Four domestic and three foreign, Hla Maung Shwe.
|12||05-06/01/13||Naypyidaw||Mutu Say Poe||Thein Sein, Aung Min, VP Sai Mauk Kham, C-in-C Min Aung Hlaing||Union Level Peace talks: Ongoing discussions and the implementation of peace agreements.|
|13||15/06/2013||Yangon||Padoh Saw Tar Doh Moo||MPC officials||the Karen National Union and MPC officials representing the Myanmar govt met at the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) in Rangoon on 15 June 2013 and talked about a ceasefire “Code of Conduct” both delegations plan to meet again in July.|
|14||23/08/2013||Yangon||RCSS + KNU||MPC||Ethnics’ technical team led by KNU and RCSS discusses on Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with MPC technical team.|
|15||31/08/2013||Nay Pyi Taw||RCSS + KNU+ CNF (Gen. Mu Tuu Say Phoe, Maj. Tu Tu Lay from KNU, Maj. Sai La and Maj. Sai Mein from RCSS)||“Vice president Sai Mauk Kham – Vice Senior General Soe Win, U Aung Min, U Thein Zaw”||UPWC president Sai Mauk Kham expected to get a nationwide ceasefire in October. (1) commitment of ceasefire (2) framework from both sides negotiation for political dialogue (3) all-inclusiveness in Conference (4) midterm working process negotiations is proposed by KNU- RCSS. It’s an informal meeting.|
|16||28/09/2013||Naypyitaw||KNU leaders total 9 including mutu say poe||UPWC/ Commander in Chief||informal meeting
KNU leaders (9) meet government and commander in chief also for second time in Nay pyi taw according to The voice daily.
|17||19/10/2013||Naypyitaw||KNU Pado Mann Nyein Mg||Soe Thein, Aung Min, Khin Yee and Gen Thet Naing Win||informal meeting
for bomb cases, Pado Mann Nyein Mg meet in Naypyitaw.
|18||08/11/2013||Tavoy||KNU- 4 Bridgade – 6 representatives||Thanintari Govt, State minister Myat Ko- 15 representatives||KNU meets taninthari government for 4 points
1. To return the KNU hold villages during the war in 1997
2. Military liaison office to regulate the military action in the region under bridgate (4)
3. Karen language teaching in schools and
4. to cooperate in development for regions.
|19||18/12/2013||Taungoo||KNU||Police force . border affair ministry||informal meeting|
|20||01/01/2014||Myawaddy, Karen State||Karen Arms Groups 4||UPWC||informal meeting
Karen New Year Ceremony held in myawaddy, 4 arms group together. Aung Min and MPC attend the ceremony.
|21||05/01/2014||Naypyitaw||KNU- Mutusaypoe/ Mann Nyein Maung/ Saw Kywe Htoo Win||UPWC- President||They discuss about nationwide ceasefire|
|22||05/01/2014||Naypyitaw||KNU- Mutusaypoe/ Mann Nyein Maung/ Saw Kywe Htoo Win||Commander in Chief and Military Generals||They discuss about nationwide ceasefire|
|23||04/06/2014||Naypyitaw||KNU Chairman, Saw Mutu Say Poe, CEC members- Saw Jar Yar Khin, Pado Mann Nyein Mg, Commander in Chief of KNLA, Gen Saw Jaor Ni, Advisor Saw Tu Tu||President Thein Sein, Aung Min||Informal Meeting
As well, Gen. Mutu Say Poe also met president Thein Sein at his Leltaw house (farm house) in Naypyitaw today at 5 p.m. It’s fifth times meeting the KNU leader and the president. They discuss about peace.
|24||04/06/2014||Naypyitaw||KNU Chairman, Saw Mutu Say Poe, CEC members- Saw Jar Yar Khin, Pado Mann Nyein Mg, Commander in Chief of KNLA, Gen Saw Jaor Ni, Advisor Saw Tu Tu||Commander in Chief, Gen MinAungHlaing, Deputy Commander in Chief Gen Soe Win||Informal Meeting
Gen. Mutu Say Poe met Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw on 4 June 2014. The meeting took place at 10:00 a.m to 12:00 a.m. It’s a six time meeting between them. Gen Min Aung Hlaing mentioned three points
|25||05/06/2014||Naypyitaw||KNU Chairman, Saw Mutu Say Poe, CEC members- Saw Jar Yar Khin, Pado Mann Nyein Mg, Commander in Chief of KNLA, Gen Saw Jaor Ni, Advisor Saw Tu Tu||Parliament Speaker – Shwe Mann||Informal Meeting
Parliament speaker Shwe Mann meet the Chairman of KNU for the first time – introducing the new relationship between the ethnic arms and parliament.
|26||14/07/2014||Law Khee Lar||Mutu Saypoe, Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win, Pado Mann Nyein Mg, Pado Saw Tardo Hmu, Gen Saw Izack||NA||Intormal Meeting
KNU held an emergency meeting in Law Khee Lar, the HQ of KNU, on July 14. They discussed about the NC and chose the representatives who are going to attend EAOs meeting in Laiza.
|27||05/08/2014||MPC in Yangon||KNU brigade 1, 4, 6, and 7||Col Aung Lwin (Karen border affairs minister) and MPC team||Intormal Meeting
They discussed about regional development in Karen such as how to cooperate for the development project. JICA, Japan Plattform, Nippon Foundation and staff from Japanese Embassy attended the meeting.
- to establish nationwide ceasefire – establishing a ceasefire especially in the ethnic nationality regions Monitoring
- to start the necessary arrangements for monitoring, analyzing and rectifying the peace process
The Karen Baptist Convention (Burma) has invited officials from the KNU and community based organizations from the Thai-Myanmar border to attend a meeting to explain the ongoing ‘peace talks’ with the government (17/11/2012)
- to guarantee life, security and freedom from fear
- to develop the state to build confidence amongst the Karen
- to stop forced labour, arbitrary taxation and extortion of villagers
- to release political prisoners and resolve rehabilitation and land problems for civilians
19/03/2012 Myanmar pardoned Nyein Maung, a member of the Karen National Union (KNU) central committee
- national registration cards
- ceasefire Code of conduct – 34 points
- relocation of government troops
07/09/2012 KNU requested for the government to move 90 of their 300 military bases areas from KNU-controlled territories
- allow national media outlets to participate in the peace process to provide accurate information about developments
- support the basic needs of the people and ensure that development projects have the full participation and support of residents
- set out clear principles for all parties to ensure a genuine peace process
- legitimate representatives involved in negotiations, provide adequate time for their consultation with respective constituencies and establish a clear roles for third parties
- implement a flexible process that guarantees progress will lead towards sustainable peace, all parties speak frankly, avoid using words that are easily misunderstood or misconstrued
Internal conflict: KNLA Commander-in-Chief Gen. Mutu Say Poe and Central Committee members David Taw and Roger Khin were dismissed by the KNU for violating protocol by visiting Pa-an the previous week to set up a liaison office. (02/10/2012). However the KNU executive committee managed to iron out differences resulting from divisions over the peace talks with the government during the Central Standing Committee (CSC) (27/11/2012). Both Mutu Say Poe and Roger Khin were reinstated. Mutu Say Poe was eventually elected as the new chairman in December, 2012. (21/12/2012) David Taw died shortly after his dismissal resulting from deteriorating health conditions.
Skirmishes have decreased signiﬁcantly as a result of the new ceasefire and ongoing peace talks with the government. However Karen state remains heavily militarised resulting in some clashes between the KNLA and Myanmar army.
KNU (5) clashes Papun, Hlaing Bwe, Beelin Townships 8 soldiers killed, 2 soldiers injured
Reports are circulating that government troops are preparing for an offensive against the KNLA’s Brigade 5 in northern Karen state after the brigade barred them from conducting gold mining and other businesses in rebel-held territory. (03/01/2013)
The KNU claim the government army’s is forcing Karen civilians to attend militia training, jeopardizing ongoing ‘peacetalks’. (21/11/2012)
KNU leader Zipporah Sein met with NLD opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon. (08/04/2012)
Karen community based organisations (CBOs)
The Dawei Princess Company is involved in facilitating the peace process between the KNU and Myanmar government. Company boss U Ko Ko Maung and Managing Director U Ngwe Soe have attended all the peace meetings between the KNU and government. Dawei Princess Company finances and arranges the meetings and travel for the government peace delegation. Karen News also reported that they paid for the setup and the running cost of the KNU liaison office in Dawei (Tavoy) town. The Dawei Princess company, also known as Hein Yadana Moe, is a sub-contractor in the $60B Dawei Special Economic Zone, which includes part of the KNU’s controlled area.
Kyauk Kyi Project Pilot project: 2010 – present
A $5M (US) pilot project has been initiated in Kyauk Kyi Township, Bago Region. The project will focus primarily on resettling the estimated 1.5M Karen internally displaced people (IDPs). But it will also be used to provide food, farming equipment, clearing land mines and establishing liaison offices. The project that’s receiving funding through the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is based on a needs assessment undertaken by the KNU-related IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) assistance group, CIDKP (Committee of Internally Displaced Karen People), and also involves an initial non-technical survey of landmines in target areas. Current status: Monitoring and Evaluation (Jan.15, 2013), As of September, 2012 the CIDKP distributed 517 bags of rice to villagers. Over the next few months, it’s expected that other items such as different food products, mosquito nets and cooking utensils will also be delivered.
KNU leaders met with US Ambassador Derek Mitchell on Jan.11, 2013 in Pa-an (Hpa-an), Karen state to discuss the country’s current political landscape and ongoing ceasefires.
Norwegian Peace Association: donations for food, clothes and education supplies; partner with MPSI
Nippon Foundation – agreed to supply food donations for IDPs
- The KNU reaffirms deeply its appreciation of effort by current Burma (Myanmar) government and its processes for securing ceasefire and peace with the armed ethnic organizations. 04/12/2012
- Position Statement of KNU on Current Situation in the Country, 04/12/2012 http://www.burmapartnership.org/2012/12/position-statement-of-knu-on-current-situation-in-the-country/
- The KNU released a statement calling for tri-partite dialogue so that all ethnic and political groups can be represented and a consensus can be reached and provide a stable foundation for genuine peace and democracy in our country. 21/09/2012
- Call to immediately end all Myanmar military operations in Kachin state. 21/09/2012
- KNU Chairman Tamla Baw: “Though the government claims to be building peace with armed ethnic nationality forces, it is my analysis that, in practice, it is working with an emphasis only on business matters, rather than dialogue for peace with a political essence,” he said. 09/08/2012
- KNU Vice President David Takapaw: says INGOs are pressuring the KNU to talk with the government. 02/07/2012
- KNU chief calls for close scrutiny of Myanmar. 14/05/2012
- The KNU expressed hope that the peace negotiations would be more effective with the inclusion of the president, vice president and top military officers of the peace committee. 10/05/2012
- KNU said the government and President Thein Sein appear to be sincere about implementing peace. (03/05/2012, 08/04/2012)
- Ceasefires Are Not Peace: KNU lays out crucial steps to achieve lasting peace in Burma. 22/02/2012
- Four-point statement calling for the withdrawal of all government troops from its controlled areas: a first-stage ceasefire, consolidating the ceasefire, political talks, political cooperation. 22/02/2012
- KNU President Tamla Baw said that recent agreements reached with the Myanmar government were just “small initial steps” on the road to peace, and urged the Karen people to continue working for greater autonomy. 31/01/2012
- KNU Statement on Peace Talks. 24/11/2011
October 14, 2015 – KNLA released a statement on the NCA signing (Eng & Bur)
Sept 21, 2015 – KNU released a statement on the World Peace Day
Nov 20, 2014 – KNU released a statement on Myanmar army attacks on KIO
Oct 30, 2014 – KAF formation statement released after the meeting
Oct 29, 2014 – KNU released a statement after the emergency meeting (Bur)
Oct 14, 2014 – KNU Defense minister press release
Oct 13, 2014 – KAF Agreement in Burmese
Oct 13, 2014 – KAF Statement in Burmese
Oct 13, 2014 – KAF Statement in English
Sept 1, 2014 – KNU suspension letter
Aug 31, 2014 – KNU suspension letter
Nov 21, 2013 – KNU’s brigade 6 released a statement (Burmese Version)
Oct 26, 2013 – KNU and RCSS joint Statement (Burmese Version)
Oct 26, 2013 – KNU and RCSS joint Statement (English Version)
Sep 26, 2013 – KNU Information Release (Burmese Version)
Sep 26, 2013 – KNU Information Release (English Version)
Jul 21, 2013 – KNU Geneva call statement (English Version)
Jul 21, 2013 – KNU Geneva call statement (Burmese Version)
Jul 21, 2013 – KNU Geneva call statement (Karen Version)
Jul 17, 2013 – KNU & RCSS Joint Statement
Jan 03, 2013 – KNU-Statement on President Thein Sein invited
Dec 27, 2012 – Statement of Karen National Union 15th Congress
Sep 21, 2012 – KNU Statement on International Day of Peace
Aug 31, 2012 – Letter of Felicitation by KNU to the Wrist-Tying Ceremony
Jun 08, 2012 – Statement of KNU Central Committee Third Emergency Meeting
Apr 08, 2012 – KNU press release on meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Mar 26, 2012 – KNU Statement on the Release of Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung
Jan 26, 2012 – Statement of KNU Central Committee 2nd Emergency Meeting
Nov 24, 2011 – KNU Statement on Peace Talks
Nov 02, 2011 – KNU Statement Appealing UN and Democratic Countries
May 29, 2011 – Statement of 8th Karen Unity Seminar
May 19, 2011 – KNU Statement on Bombing near Capital of Burma’s Dictators
Feb 20, 2011 – Statement of Ethnic Nationalities Conference
Feb 08, 2011 – KNU Statement on SPDC Parliament & Government
Feb 07, 2011 – KNU Update on Impacts Resulting from Hatgyi Dam Construction
Jan 10, 2011 – State of Freedom Struggle
Dec 21, 2010 – Fourteenth KNU Congress, 3rd CSC Meeting Statement
Nov 17, 2010 – KNU Statement concerning Release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Jul 27,2010 – Pre-Election Military Operations by SPDC
Mar 31, 2010 – KNU Statement affirming Full Support for Decision of NLD
Mar 16, 2010 – KNU Statement on SPDC’s 2010 Election Law
Mar 14, 2010 – KNU Press Release on Recommendation of UN Special Rapporteur
Mar 13, 2010 – NDF Statement on Military Clique’s Election Laws
Feb 16, 2010 – New Attacks on Karen Require International Response
Feb 04, 2010 – KNU position on Refugees
Jan 28, 2010 – NDF Statement on Assassination of Mongla Leader
Jan 28, 2010 – Bomb Blast in Kyaukkyi, Bago Division, and Blame against KNU
Jan 07, 2010 – New Year Greetings & Call for National Unity by KNU