MYANMAR/Burma: Karen People Worldwide Call For Genuine Peace And A Federal Union Of Burma

Representatives from Karen organizations worldwide today call for genuine peace throughout Burma and for national reconciliation towards the establishment of a federal union. They also appealed to the international community, especially the European Union and the United States, to maintain pressure on the Burmese Government until there is tangible political change for the Karen and for all the people of Burma.

Today’s appeals were the result of a four-day conference organized by the Karen National Unity Committee from 27 February to 1 March in Kawtholei, Karen State. The conference was attended by 167 Karen participants, including community and religious leaders, as well as representatives from women, youth and other Karen ethnic organizations from inside Burma and around the world.

“We welcome the peace initiative of the Karen National Union (KNU),” said K’nyaw Paw, Executive Member of Karen Women’s Organization and Presidium Board Member of Women’s League of Burma. “We are collectively calling on the Burmese Government to genuinely commit to a ceasefire with the KNU, stop military operation in Karen areas, start political negotiation, and guarantee ethnic rights for the Karen people and for all the people of Burma.”

Participants of the conference also expressed their support for the KNU in working with other ethnic and democratic alliances including United Nationalities Federal Council for the establishment of a federal democratic Burma.

“We acknowledge that there have been some political changes in the central parts of Burma,” said Zoya Phan, Chair of the European Karen Network and Advisor of the Karen Community Association UK. “However, the situation in Karen areas has not improved and the rights and protection of the Karen have not been guaranteed. These are critical issues that must be addressed in order to achieve lasting peace in our communities, and for there to be significant political reforms in Burma.”

“As Karen overseas, we pledged to do all we can to support the ceasefire negotiations between the KNU and the Burmese Government,” said Saw Kenneth Moe, Vice-Chairperson of the Karen National Fellowship–Korea. “Karen people around the world have pledged to work in unity and we hope the international community will stand with us by pressuring the Burmese Government to work sincerely for peace and national reconciliation in our country. International governments could also play a concrete role as observers to make sure the process is transparent.”

The conference also stressed that development projects, many of which are already underway in Karen areas, must take into account the local people’s rights to participation in decision-making, right to land ownership and well being of future generations. The Burmese Government’s economic policies must be based on the long-term benefit of the people, especially local communities.

Statement from Karen Worldwide Seminar

A Karen Worldwide Conference was held on 27 February to 1 March 2012 regarding the current political situation in Burma and the future of Karen people. A total of 167 participants comprised of Karen communities, religious leaders, and representatives from women, youth and other Karen ethnic organizations, from both inside Burma and overseas, attended the conference.

The following decisions were made by consensus in the conference:

1. We welcome the Karen National Union (KNU)’s four-step roadmap regarding the on-going peace talks with the Burmese Government.

2. We, Karen communities around the world, both inside Burma and oversea, will support the ceasefire and peace talks between the KNU and the Burmese Government as best as we can.

3. A nationwide ceasefire must be implemented. Ceasefire and peace processes must be conducted with transparency and involve third party international observers.

4. Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) should not be repatriated until genuine peace is achieved. At that point, repatriation must be completed under the observation of the international community.

5. The international community should maintain pressure against the Burmese Government until a genuine peace is achieved.

6. We call for the release of all political prisoners including Mahn Nyein Maung and other KNU and Karen communities members.

7. Development projects must take into account the local people’s rights to participation in decision-making, right to land ownership, and the well being of future generations. The economic policies must be based on the long-term benefit of the people, especially local communities.

8. We recognize the urgent need to fight against drug and gambling, and work together as a national cause.

9. In order to prevent ineffectiveness during the peace negotiation taken by the KNU, there should be good management in political, military, economic and organizing sectors.

10. We will work to promote unity and solidarity among Karen ethnic organizations. Karen people from different communities and organizations around the world will work together to protect and promote our Karen cause.

11. For the purpose of safeguarding the future of Karen nationality, and based on Karen national solidarity, we will hold an inclusive congress with participation of all the Karen people.

12. We will continue to work together and collaborate with other ethnic nationalities to achieve the political aspirations of the Karen people, such as nationality equality and the right to self-determination.

Source: Karen National Unity Committee

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