"Every Karen must be involved in political destiny"
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Every Karen must be involved in political destiny"

By Saw Ba Thin Sein Thursday, June 1, 2000

(Page 2 of 4)

Q: What about relations between the KNU and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army?

A: Some of our troops were influenced by the SPDC and persuaded. We have to try and reorganize them and make them understand. They always state that they are also struggling for equality and freedom. Since we both have objectives it is better to be united and struggle together. But the problem is that since they are under the direct control of the SPDC, I think it will take time.

Q: What are your concerns for Karen refugees along the border?

A: Well, the number of refugees along the border increases on account of the SPDC launching attacks all along the border especially in the mountain region such as Taungoo, Nyaunglebin, Thaton, and Hpa-an area districts. That is why many villagers move out of their villages and cross the border to the refugee camps.

Q: What about Internally Displaced Persons in Karen State?

A: In one district report I received recently, there are 8,000 IDPs in Nyaunglebin district area alone hiding in the jungle. They need clothes, medicine and rice. So we are telling NGOs what they can do and asking the Karen community around the world to assist.

Q: We have a report that the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] recently visited Karen State including areas controlled by the KNU. Was there any agreement between the ICRC and the KNU?

A: We don’t have any particular agreement with the ICRC yet. But the ICRC met us once before moving into the KNU area. We told them very frankly that if they move out from the capital of Karen State, they have to move out by themselves with their own ICRC flag and they cannot come with SPDC troops and that we will try to contact them wherever they arrive if they give us information. There shouldn’t be any troops accompanying them whenever they move. They understand the situation. We recently received information that they came to the Paloo area. They stayed there only one day with one car. So next time they want to come see the situation by themselves, we cannot object because they have permission given by the SPDC. If the SPDC can give them permission why can’t the KNU because the KNU are the ones suffering the oppression from the SPDC troops. So I would like them to see for themselves, with their own eyes what is happening in the KNU area. That’s why we agree. The only thing is that if they want to move in and out, they must inform us of the number of people in the party and who the driver is.

Q: If the ICRC helps IDPs do you think more Karen will go back and settle in Burma?

A: I don’t think so, but still to a certain extent there will be some Karen people staying because the ICRC have told us that they would be responsible for feeding these refugees and they would prevent them from becoming forced porters or forced laborers and that they would not be forcibly moved out from their villages. I told them all along the border area, maybe in some villages you will be able to do this. But I told them that the root problem in Burma is a political problem and that unless and until you can solve this main problem this will be a temporary measure for the villagers only.

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