Rebel groups reject ‘terrorist’ label

Two ethnic armed groups, the Karen National Union (KNU) and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), released a joint statement on February 16 to say that all ethnic armed groups should be regarded as peace partners and not as terrorist groups, adding that the peace process should be accomplished in cooperation with them.

The KNU delegation led by General Saw Mutu Say Poe met the KIO’s central committee on February 16 at the KIO headquarters in Laiza, Kachin State. They discussed current political affairs and peace process during the meeting.

The statement urged everyone involved in the peace process to cooperate to achieve the ultimate goal and to find solutions to encourage everybody to take part.

“We just exchanged views about the peace process. We need a stage where everyone can participate in the peace process. We’re a group which signed the national ceasefire agreement. We met central committee members of the KIO, which is a non-signatory,” said a KNU spokesperson.

The statement quoted a pledge about peace and national reconciliation from February 2015, signed by 55 political parties and government, military and ethnic armed representatives, saying they would address problems with political dialogue rather than military means.