Karenni resistance fighters agree to ceasefire as number of IDPs passes 100,000

Karenni resistance forces announced the suspension of attacks on regime troops in northern Kayah (Karenni) and southern Shan states on Tuesday amid a growing crisis facing displaced civilians in the region. 

The Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF), a coalition of anti-junta forces formed on May 31, made the decision following talks with military and religious leaders late last week. 

The move comes as the number of civilians displaced by the nearly month-old conflict has surpassed 100,000, according to the United Nations human rights agency OHCHR.

The KNDF consists of civilians from Loikaw, Demoso, and Nan Mei Khon in Kayah State and Moebye and Pekhon in southern Shan State, as well as ethnic armed forces based in the region.

The KNDF did not specify how long its ceasefire would last, but said it would continue to oppose the military junta in various ways. It also urged people to be united, prepared and cautious.

On June 11, representatives of three Karenni armed groups involved in the KNDP met with army personnel from the Eastern Command and Christian religious leaders in Taunggyi, Shan State, to discuss the ongoing situation.

The armed groups that attended the meeting were reportedly the Kayan New Land Party, the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front, and the Karenni National Peace and Development Party.

“The armed groups talked to the military council about the armed conflict. Our religious groups mainly discussed allowing humanitarian channels for displaced people,” a Catholic priest from Loikaw told Myanmar Now.

The church, which has taken a leading role in efforts to mitigate harm to civilians caught in the conflict, has also been a target of attacks, with at least eight churches damaged or destroyed by the military since fighting began.

Religious leaders demanded that relief workers be allowed to transport food and other supplies safely and without hindrance. 

“The commander said he would consider measures for the displaced people. The people are in real trouble. Living in the jungle during the rainy season is very difficult. The elderly and children are especially vulnerable,” the priest said.

During the meeting, no agreement was reached to guarantee the security of displaced locals, but the situation is likely to be more stable than before, he added. 

“I haven’t heard any gunfire for a day or two since the meeting,” he said, noting that some civilians have also returned to their homes in recent days.

“But people are still very worried. There’s a ceasefire, but they don’t know how long it will last. They’re worried that troops will come and arrest them at night if they return. They are still in so much fear.”

Some residents who returned to Demoso on Tuesday discovered that their homes had been destroyed during the clashes, according to local sources.

The military has used heavy artillery and airstrikes against local anti-regime resistance forces since clashes began in the area in late May. 

In addition to killing numerous civilians in these attacks, the military has also imposed restrictions on the transport of food, fuel and other essential commodities into Kayah State since May 28, creating widespread shortages of basic necessities. 

On June 11, the day that a six-day-old boy died of a cold while his family was fleeing from clashes in Pekhon Township, the military set fire to an ambulance and vehicles carrying food and medical supplies for displaced people in the township.

In an article published by a state-run newspaper, the regime claimed that it had merely seized supplies from “terrorists”. 


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