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Karen National Union Delegation Visits United Kingdom

By Karen Community Association UK  •  November 1, 2013

KNU delegation in  UK, London 29 October 2013 by Karen Community Association UKKaren Community Association UK welcomes the Karen National Union (KNU) delegation visiting the UK from 28 October- 1 November 2013. The delegation consists of 7 members including 3 women. The delegation is in the UK to study the peace process in Northern Ireland. During their visit to UK, the delegation met with senior leaders and negotiators from Northern Ireland and the British Government who have been involved in reconciliation work in Northern Ireland. The delegation also visited main conflict effected areas in Belfast to see how communities on each side lived and experienced the conflict.

The delegation also met with Karen community in the UK and discussed the current situation of the Karen people, including progress on ceasefire negotiations with the Burmese government, coordination with ethnic alliances, the human rights situation in Karen areas, refugee concerns, and the political goal of the KNU to establish a federal Burma.

Despite a ceasefire agreement reached between the Karen National Union and Burmese Government almost two years ago, there is no sign of genuine political dialogue, which will provide sustainable development and long-lasting peace for Karen people. The KNU is still a banned organisation, and cannot operate legally to reach out to different Karen communities in Burma. Many Karen continue to face human rights violations including forced labour, arbitrary arrest, arbitrary detention, and land confiscation. Since the peace process began, land that Karen people have been on for generations is being seized by the Burmese authorities on a much bigger scale with little or no compensation. This brought destruction to local people.

Ten of thousands of refugees along the border of Thailand still cannot return back to their villages as Burmese Army is increasing troops numbers in the areas they fled from. There are also no significant landmines removal programmes. Refugees continue to require aid from international community and ration cuts risk forcing them back to unsafe areas.

Nationwide ceasefire is needed as a basic step towards genuine peace. However, nationwide ceasefire should not be just an opportunity for the Burmese government to increase military control as well as economic control over ethnic areas. It should lead to a meaningful political dialogue.

The Karen Community Association UK urges Prime Minister David Cameron to review policy on Burma and put political pressure on the Burmese Government to enter into a genuine political dialogue with KNU and other genuine ethnic representatives. It’s time British government pay proper attention to what’s going on in Karen and other ethnic areas, rather than a policy almost solely based on Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Military engagement without tackling the problems of impunity will not be beneficial for the people of Burma.

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This post is in: Peace and National Reconciliation, Press Release

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