War, Peace Talk & War Crimes

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – December 27 Scenes
MoeMaKa, December 28 2022

War, Peace Talk & War Crimes

Every day in the news, the number of armed forces members killed in battle, the number of wounded, and the number of civilians who died due to being captured and killed by armed groups, heavy weapons or bullets are all included almost every day. As months and years pass, these news articles seem less strange.


In today’s news, we see news around Kawkareik, Karen State, where battles are currently going on. These include news of civilian casualties, the news that a bomb fell on a monastery, killing a monk and injuring some people, and the news that there is no traffic due to a possible weapon landing in Kawkareik. The Kawkareik-Myawaddy road, which is the main road for Thai-Myanmar border trade, has been cut off for several days. Goods coming from Thailand cannot reach Hpa-An via Kyondoe, and goods from Myanmar cannot be delivered to Myawaddy on the Thai border.

It was also reported in the news that trucks are facing difficulties crossing the bridge between Kawkareik and Myawaddy because armed groups detonated mines last week.

In Karen State, in addition to the KNU, there are other small armed groups conducting their activities, such as the DKBA that separated from the KNU, a breakaway armed group from the DKBA, the BGF (Border Guard Force), which converted from the original main DKBA before the 2010 election, and the KNU/KNLA (PC), which separated from the KNU in 2007 and stood as the Karen Peace Council.

After the military coup, the main group, KNU, became the target of the military council because it accepted and supported the NUG government, which includes majority members of the NLD party. Since mid-December last year, clashes between the KNU, other armed groups, and the military council troops have been taking place across Karen State. Before the Lay Kay Kaw incident, there had been battles in areas like Hpapun District, but they were not as widespread as they are now, and only in 2022 did the fighting intensify and expand.

The military council is trying to control the area dominated by KNU because Karen State is a place to get weapons, bullets, explosive bombs, technology, and military training for the armed activities taking place in lower Myanmar after the military coup. Karen State is the number-one priority place to escape to for those who are politically opposed to the coup and those who have to flee from being arrested for doing CDM.

Thailand is a country that accepts refugees and political opponents more than other neighboring countries such as China, India, and Bangladesh, so people are leaving the Myawaddy of Karen State bordering Thailand and living illegally in Thailand.

At a time when these battles, war refugees, and roadblocks are happening, five of the ethnic groups that have signed a ceasefire (NCA) are holding talks with the military council in Nay Pyi Taw from December 27 to 29. In recent weeks, seven NCA signatories, including these five, sent a letter requesting informal talks with the military council. The news of the meeting emerged after the initial dejection of the military council. It is reported that among the 7 groups that requested, the RCSS Shan Armed Forces and the New Mon State Party did not attend the discussion.

Doubts are now prevailing about what benefit there is in discussing with the military council—a body unworthy of the name of the government that has committed and continues to commit most of the war crimes. There are serious doubts about whether these meetings will prevent or stop war crimes such as the killing, arresting, and torturing of civilians and the burning of houses.

There is also the question of how to prevent such war crimes from being perpetrated if not through dialogue. Another question is whether the military council can be quickly toppled by international pressure or the escalation of the revolution.