East and the Delta

Main enemy: Imperialism

Immediate target: the AFPFL which represents those interests

Strength: the leadership of the working class, but the main strength will be the peasants, the backbone of the revolution, under the worker's leadership

Alliances: intellectuals, government employees, businessmen

Temporary Alliances: national bourgeois

Strategy: armed struggle

Military Strategy: protracted warfare

Agrarian Strategy: abolition of landlordism

Foreign policy: peaceful coexsistence[i]

 Second National Congress Objectives

With an increasingly left leaning KNUP, Saw Hunter Thamwe and the more right wing members of the KNU began to distance themselves from Mahn Ba Zan and Skaw Ler Taw. An indication of this was with the joining, in 1959, of the KNUP with the Communist Party of Burma and the New Mon State Party in the National Democratic United Front (NDUF), an alliance the KNU, under the leadership of Hunter Thamwe, did not embrace.

Concerned over the blossoming relationship between the communists and, what was by then acknowledged as the largest insurgent organisation in Burma the Burmese government, under the control of army commander General Ne Win who had taken control from U Nu in 1958, held secret, yet unsuccessful, peace talks which once again refused to give the Karens their own state.

Despite elections which returned U Nu to power, Ne Win once again took the reigns of the country through a coup in 1962. He announced the new government to be the Burma Socialist Programme Party and unveiled two major policy statements in the 'Burmese Way to Socialism' and 'The correlation of the system of man and his environment'. Regardless of the socialist tones of Ne Win's rhetoric the country was to become nothing more than a military controlled state with the army seen as the only force that could bring unity to the country.

In an attempt to bring an end to the civil war and unite the country, Ne Win once again started peace talks, in 1963, with the Karens and other revolutionary forces. The talks were once again unsurprisingly one sided with the only offer being put forward was that of the opposition groups surrendering their weapons and joining the 'legal fold'. The very real issues that had caused the revolution to continue were never addressed and once again the talks failed.

However, despite the majority Karen line, Hunter Thamwe, who was still at odds with the current political ideology of the Karen movement and had split the Karen into two factions the KNUP and the KRC, surrendered with the fifth brigade, which had by then built up an unpleasant reputation for being nothing more than criminals and bandits, commander Lin Tin.

In February 1964 Lin Tin's fifth brigade forces with supporting troops, under another defector Bo Truman, from third brigade, Nyaunglebin, launched an attack against a KNUP base  north of Papun. Seventeen supporters died in the incident including a central committee member Ohn Pe, who was brutally tortured before his death[ii]  This act of aggression by Lin Tin, which was believed to have been conducted with help from the Tatmadaw and with the full knowledge of Hunter Thamwe, led to retaliation by troops under the command of Bo Mya who burned down a number of villages in Thaton which had been under Lin Tin's control.

By the mid sixties the eastern division under the control of Bo Mya began to separate itself from the socialist struggle of the KNUP and had taken control of the Dawna range exerting control over much of the Thai border.

In the delta the situation increasingly deteriorated under new Tatmadaw tactics which had been implemented in an attempt to finally rid the area of opposition forces. The four cuts campaign, Pya Ley Pya, was engineered in an attempt to cut the four main elements needed by the revolutionaries; food, funds, intelligence, and recruits. Areas were cleared as the army moved in moving villagers to strategic areas after which the army would then kill anyone remaining.

[i] Smith, Burma and the Politics of Ethnicity, quoting 'Record of the Second National Congress'

[ii] Ibid, pp 218