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Burmese Government and Aid Donors Should Not Seek To Divide Karen

By European Karen Network  •  October 4, 2012

Recent developments in Karen State have raised serious questions about the Burmese government’s sincerity in its peace negotiations with the Karen National Union (KNU).

After more than sixty-years of conflict, and past occasions when the government of Burma did not act in a truthful and honest way during ceasefire negotiations, building trust is an essential first step if future dialogue leading to a permanent ceasefire and a political solution to conflict in Burma is to be successful.

By seeking to divide the Karen National Union and encouraging some members to set up an unauthorised liaison office, the government of Burma is not acting in an honest and constructive manner that will create trust. Instead the government of Burma appears intent on continuing to use divide and rule tactics against the Karen. The use of such tactics can threaten the entire peace process.

If the government of Burma wanted to demonstrate to the Karen and to the world that it was genuine in wanting dialogue and peace, it would not seek to use divide and rule tactics, and would withdraw permission for the unauthorised liaison office to open.

We are also concerned that international aid money that should be used to help the needy and promote peace is being used in a political manner in collusion with the Burmese government. We are concerned about the role of some individuals working for the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative with regards to the unauthorised liaison office.  The way that this and other peace funds are operating, with a lack of transparency and proper consultation with Karen political and community organisations is creating suspicion and mistrust. By operating in such a way the peace funds may undermine the peace that they are supposed to be supporting.

We call on the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative to publish details of all meetings and conversations held with those involved in the unauthorised liaison office, and also to publish all internal memo’s, emails and other correspondence, and those with and by consultants, relating to this matter. Only through honesty and transparency can trust be rebuilt.

We know that many Karen in Burma and around the world are deeply concerned by recent developments in the current peace process. We must remember that the Karen have faced many challenges, many attempts to divide us, to crush us, to assimilate and destroy our culture and our race. Despite all the challenges we have faced we have never given up and we have never been defeated. We can adapt to new situations and overcome any challenge as long as we can stay united and determined, and never give up hope.

The European Karen Network will continue to stand by the Karen National Union and support their efforts in peace negotiations. The Karen National Union is the organisation, which speaks for and leads the Karen in our struggle to gain rights, protection and self-determination that guarantees genuine freedom for the Karen people and all in Burma.

The Karen will be free.

For media interview, please contact: 

Padoh Zaw Naung (Norway) +4790014182 
Htoo Ku Hsar Say (UK) +447940522425

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