The Karen Women’s Organization, the Karen Women’s Empowerment Group and Karen Women’s Union said in their statement that they, “welcome the announcement on October 13 of the Karen armed resistance groups coming together under the name of Kawthoolei Armed Forces.”
The alliance of the women’s organization said the reunification of the four Karen armed groups “meets the long held desire of Karen people everywhere, especially of Karen women. We believe this is an opportunity for both peace building, and improved co-operation that can help reduce violence against women.”
The alliance spokeswomen pointed out in its statement that the Karen armed forces were previously united under the same banner.
“The KAF was originally formed on July 5, 1949. At that time the KAF combined different Karen armed groups but over the years the alliance has split up. We are pleased to see that the Karen armed groups have reunified under the KAF banner and hope it will increase cooperation and understanding. We believe this unity will help to bring the genuine peace we all seek,” said Nan Dah Eh Kler, Karen Women’s Organization Chairperson.
Naw Ohn Hla from the Karen Women’s Union said the Karen community had been waiting for a long time for the different armed groups to shelve their factional differences and unite to fight a common cause.
“Our community has been hoping for the reunification of different Karen armed groups for a long time. We, the Karen people are not afraid of unity among the armed groups. Rather, we are afraid of the splits and disunity that have had a serious impact on the daily lives of local people. I am both encouraged by and fully support the unification of Karen organizations by the forming of KAF. This is right time to show our unity.”
The four Karen armed forces who have now combined to form the KAF are the Karen National Liberation Army or KNLA, Karen National Defence Organisation or KNDO, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army or DKBA, and the Karen National Union-Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council or KNU-KNLA-PC.