Contemporary scholars, politicians, statesmen and laymen will be bewildered to find the word Charlatanism between the two antagonistic groups of Burmese army known as Tatmadaw and the current KNU (Karen Nation Union). But their actions and declarations clearly indicate their similarity even though they may be at each other’s throat for more than half a century.
A Short Backdrop
The British rule in Burma started in 1824 and the first Burmese army was the BIA (British Independence Army) in 1941 to help liberate proper Burma from the British rule with the help of the Japanese army. Since then it has changed from stage to stage until it became the Imperial Myanmar Tatmadaw over not only the non-Myanmar race of ethnic nationalities but also over its own population as the 2008 Nargis Constitution stipulates that the government has no authority over the Tatmadaw. A dominating State over a State.
The Karen are believed to have settled in what today is Burma in the 6th and 7th century BC. By nature the Karen are simple, quiet, unassuming and peace loving people, who uphold the high moral qualities of honesty, purity, brotherly love, co-operative living and loyalty, and are devout in their religious beliefs. . According to most historians, they were one of the first settlers in this new land which they name kaw-lah, meaning the Green Land and immigrated in stages through China into Southeast Asia, probably after the Mon but before the Myanmar, and Shan.
When the American missionaries arrived in the early 1800s they were welcomed with open arms by the Karen, who in their folklore had obscure references to a ‘white brother’ with a ‘holy book’. Quite a few converted to Christianity of various sects and many also began to go to school. When the British occupied Burma, the conditions of the Karen gradually improved. With the introduction of law and order by the Colonial Central Authority, the Karen began to earn their living without being hindered, and could go to school and be educated. The Myanmar was infuriated to see the despised Karen being treated as equal by the British.
Progress of the Karen people in almost all fields was fast, and by the beginning of the 20th Century they were ahead of other peoples in many respects, especially in education, athletics and music. It could be said that the Karen had a breathing spell during the period of the British regime.
At one time, 22% of the student body of Rangoon University was Karen. In fact, though, while the ‘Christian’ element dominated politically, they never made up more than 15% of the Karen population in Burma. The remainders are mainly Buddhist and Animist or a combination of the latter two.
Although there has been no reliable census it appears there were approximately 4-5 million Karen or about 8-10% of the population of Burma. In a 1931 slanted census there appeared to be 1.37 million that admitted to speaking Karen only and it was about this time that they began to hope for a Karen State. Unlike the Myanmar who wanted freedom from the British, the Karen sided with the British from the beginning of the Japanese invasion to the end of WWII.
In 1942, the Japanese invaded Burma along with the Burma Independence Army (BIA), who led them into the country. These BIA troops took full advantage of the situation by insinuating that the Karen was spies and puppets of the British, and therefore were enemies of the Japanese and the Myanmar. With the help of the Japanese, they began to attack the Karen villages, intending to wipe out the entire Karen populace using methods similar to what Hitler at that time was enacting against the Jews in Germany. Karen in many parts of the country were arrested, tortured and killed, a process being carried out now by the Tatmadaw. Their properties were looted, womenfolk raped and killed, and hearths and homes burned. Conditions were so unbearable that they retaliated fiercely enough to attract the attention of the Japanese Government, which improved and modified the situation.
The bitter experiences of the Karen, especially during the Second World War, compelled them to think that unless they were and had a state of our own, they would never experience a life of peace, free from persecution and oppression. This is the crux of the Karen struggle for freedom. Soon after the Second World War, all the nations that had been under colonial rule were filled with national aspirations for independence. A goodwill mission led by Saw Tha Din and Saw Ba U Gyi to London in August 1946 failed to receive any encouragement from the British government for their separatist demands. The British Labor Government’s reply was that they should “throw their lot with the Myanmar.” Despite earlier promises of support in the founding of a Karen Nation the British ignored and neglected them.
When a delegation of representatives of the Governor’s Executive Council headed by Aung San was invited to London to negotiate for the Aung San-Atlee Treaty in January 1947, none of the ethnic minority members were included. The following month at the Panglong Conference, when an agreement was signed between Aung San as head of the interim Burmese government and the Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders, the Karen delegation was not there. The Mon and Arakanese were also absent and Karenni was not invited. The British had promised to consider the case of the Karen after the war. While the situation of the Karen was discussed, nothing practical was done before the British left Burma. The 1947 Constitution was drawn without Karen participation. The Shan and Karenni states were given the right to secession after 10 years, the Kachin their own state, and the Chin a special division. The Mon and Arakanese of Ministerial Burma were not given any consideration.
In early February 1947, the Karen National Union (KNU) was formed at a Karen Congress attended by 700 delegates from the Karen National Association, both Christians and Buddhist at Vinton Memorial Hall in Rangoon. On January 4, 1948, Burma got its independence from the British. The Karen continued to ask democratically and peacefully for self-determination from the Burmese Government. The Karen State requested by the Karen was comprised of the Irrawaddy Division, the Tenasserim Division, the Hanthawady District, Insein District and the Nyaunglebin Sub-Division, the areas where the bulk of the Karen populace lived. However, instead of negotiating peacefully with the Karen, the Burmese Government and the Burmese Media said many negative things about them, especially by frequently accusing the Karen of being puppets of the British and enemies of the Myanmar. To counter the accusations and show the world that all the Karen people wanted a Karen state, a peaceful demonstration by Karen all over the country was staged on February 11, 1948, with over 400,000 Karen taking part.
The slogans of the Karen in this mass demonstration voiced the same desire as the three slogans of the British Colonies after the Second World War: Liberty, Equality, and Peace. This demonstrated that the Karen preferred to ask the government using peaceful means.
A few months after Burma got its independence, successive desertions and revolts in the AFPFL put U Nu in grave trouble. The revolts of the Myanmar Red Flag Communist Party in 1947, the Myanmar Communist Party of Burma in March 1948, the Myanmar People’s Volunteer Organization in June 1948, and the mutinies of the Myanmar 1st Burma Rifles stationed at Thayetmyo and the Myanmar 3rd Rifles stationed at Mingladon, Rangoon (August 15, 1948), prompted U Nu to approach the Karen leaders to ask them to help the Government by taking up the security of Rangoon to save it from peril. The Karen true to the democratic procedure complied with U Nu’s request and helped him out of his predicament. The KNDO (Karen National Defense Organization) officially recognized by the Burmese Government, was posted at all the strategic positions and all the roads and routes leading to Rangoon. For months the KNDO faithfully took charge of the security of Rangoon.
The KNDO was given several tasks in forming an outer ring of defense, particularly at Hlegu and Twante. Most important of all was the reoccupation of Twante town, Rangoon’s key riverine gateway to the Delta towns and upper Burma. This little town had fallen several times to the communists. Each time it was retaken by regular troops, only to fall back into the hands of the rebels as soon as conditions returned to normal and control was handed back to the civil authorities and the police. This time, a KNDO unit under the leadership of Bo Toe and Bo Aung Min was ordered to retake Twante, which was once more in the hands of the Red Flag Communists.
This action clearly proves that the Karen if there was even a genuine Union of Burma wanted to stay in the Union, but only if it was treated as an equal partner of the Myanmar race.
After Burma gained independence in January 1948, the Karen, led by the KNU, attempted to co-exist peacefully with the Myanmar ethnic majority. Karen people held leading positions in both the government and the army. However, in the fall of 1948, the Burmese government, led by U Nu, began raising and arming irregular political militias known as Sitwundan .
These militias were under the command of Major Gen. Ne Win and outside the control of the regular army. In January 1949, some of these militias went on a rampage through Karen communities. In late January, the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Smith Dun, a Karen, was removed from office and imprisoned. He was replaced by Ne Win.
These events happened at exactly the same time a commission looking into the Karen problem was due to make its report to the government and they effectively killed the report. Many Karen villages were attacked and many Karen villagers were shot and killed, women raped, properties looted and hearths and homes burnt and destroyed. On the 30th of January 1949, the Burmese Government declared the KNDO unlawful. Early the next morning on the 31st of January, the Burmese troops attacked the KNDO Headquarters at a town about 10 miles north of where most of the top Karen leaders lived.
There was no alternative left for the Karen but to fight back. An order was issued to all the Karen throughout the country to take up whatever arms they could find and fight for their lives, their honor, and their long cherished Karen state Kawthoolei. Since then the KNU has been fighting up to this day.
After Tatmadaw Take Over
Since the country gained independence from Britain (4th Jan1948) all the people of Burma especially the ethnic nationalities believed in the Union and in solving problems by democratic means, but this was put to an end by Ne Win’s military coup of 1962 (March 2nd). The tyranny of the Myanmar Tatmadaw under the various military administrations (Revolutionary Council, BSPP, SLORC, SPDC and the current quasi-military government of Colonel Thein Sein) and its ethnic cleansing policy was so intense, that it compelled all the ethnic nationalities including smaller groups such as Pa O, Lahu, Kokang, Pa Laung (Tan’g) etc. to take up arms as there was no option left.
After intense fighting and a scorched earth policy of more than half a century the Imperial Myanmar Tatmadaw realized that soon the country will lose its independence to China and the only option is to make peace not only with the pro-democracy forces but also with the ethnic nationalities. Hence in 2012 it started to change after releasing the only Burmese Nobel laureate and pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from custody. Now they have embarked skillfully on the “Divide and Rule” policy and the first causality was the KNU. Coincidentally, Mutu Say Po and his gang of Karen traitors are in power which was an easy prey for the ex-Junta headed by former Major General Aung Min.
Now with the Thein Sein administration offering an olive branch to the KNU, a temporary ceasefire has being reached. There is however little prospect for a genuine peace pact while the attitude of the Tatmadaw continues to pull the strings. But this is nonetheless one of the best offers ever made and the Karen people as a whole are exhausted of fighting for more than half a century and living in a jungle. The Karen people in particular stand at a crossroads with the resistance movement unwaveringly led by the KNU for more than half a century. The question for the Karen is: where do they go from here? The Karen people’s support for the KNU is strong in rural areas where armed resistance has been concentrated. The vast majority of Karen people throughout the country look up to the KNU as a national political body but it is a fact that the KNU leadership would prefer a political solution to this half-century of armed conflict.
With the advent of economic globalization and the digital world, the Karen’s struggle for self-determination and ethnic equality cannot be viewed exclusively in terms of politics. As a movement, they must confront cold realities. While contending with powerful currents of social greed and lack of cooperation between governments, they must make the best use of emerging opportunities brought to them by the geo-political circumstances, geo-economic trends, and technological advancement. The KNU leaders must be wise even though they are weary. Given the political trend developing nationally and regionally, most Karen accept that the KNU has no choice but to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with the new quasi-military government of Burma dominated by the Myanmar ethnic race.
To be candid most of the current Karen leaders are fairly race conscience. When the 1988 pro-democracy movement failed more than 20,000 students and intelligentsia fled to the Karen control area. Bo Mya was in command but behind is Padoh Than Aung, a Karen think tank. I went to his house in Bangkok and pleaded with him to arm the students, throw their lot with the pro-democracy movement and finished off the Junta, at a time when the old country and the international community is behind us. But he refused. I came back sorrowfully to learn that Karen leaders were not only race conscious but some of them mixed religion with politics e.g. when Bo Mya (SDA Christian) was fasting he issued orders not to attack the enemy on that particular date. It had missed the golden chance of arming the ABSDF when everything was favorable for the armed revolution and the end result was the fall of Mannerplaw and the end of Karen leadership in the ethnic nationalities.
It is everybody’s knowledge that the Myanmar administrations were and are always liars as it had a long history of lies when they called Saw B U Gyi for negotiation and then arrested him way back in 1949. It was only by a trick that he came out. Perhaps the Karen leaders have forgotten the recent history of Burma when U Aung Zeya founder of the third Myanmar kingdom (1752 to 1885) called all the learned Mon monks for a merit making and burning them alive for the ethnic cleansing of Mon race. Yet the Mutu Say Po and his gang has said that they believe that the current Burmese administration is sincere.
“Divide and Rule Tactics”
Just like in any organization there is always a power struggle within the group since KNU was formed way back in 1949. Saw Ba U Gyi himself got fed up with his colleagues when he discovered that they were behaving like dacoits and warlords and this finally led him to be trapped by the Myanmar Tatmadaw. In the current leadership, Major Tutu Lay the lawyer turned revolutionary, the late David Taw, the economist and of course Mutu Say Po the current axe handle of the Tatmadaw together with Mahn Nyein Maung have a cock eye on economics, while the rest are more or less true patriots.
In the late 2012 news leak out that the three top leaders viz General Mutu Say Poe, the commander-in-chief of its armed wing, (KNLA), along with central committee members the late David Taw and Roger Khin committed “repeated violations of KNU rules and regulations” Reliable KNU sources said that Mutu Say Poe and his group which has 10,000 troops to support him had ignored several meetings called by the central committee, which is currently led by General-Secretary Naw Zipporah Sein and that the northern faction led by Baw Kyaw Heh and a southern faction commanded by Mutu Say Poe had threatened to derail the KNU’s 15th congress. The European Karen Network accused government peace negotiators of seeking to split the Karen leadership. Clearly the “Divide and Rule” tactics implemented by former Major General Aung Min the Myanmar manipulator, and the government think tank [MPC?] now reinforced by former students leaders of ABSDF who all had meticulously studied not only the four principles of Saw Ba U Gyi but also the workings of KNU since 1988, now supplied all the necessary aspects for Mu Tu Say Po and his treacherous group to successfully implement the KNU 15th Congress in their controlled area and have Mutu Say Po himself elected Chairman of KNU. The first step of the “Divide and Rule” strategy of the Myanmar government was working well for the Tatmadaw led government.
Now it had become important to tackle the more formidable force of the amalgamation of the Non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities. The UNFC is the vanguard for the Union of Burma, to instil the Union spirit based on the principles of equality, liberty, fraternity, democracy, federalism and self-determination which the Myanmar Tatmadaw and the government vehemently hated. Hence it was important to divide the UNFC.
In the meantime the quasi-military administration under the guidance of Than Shwe, now officially retired but actually pulling the strings from behind, has nurtured the hard line generals to sideline the pro-democracy forces, and has successfully used the extremist monks, the sordid USDA, the ruling party and the ignorant populace to instil the so called Wintharnu (love for country, people and religion) spirit, by attacking the Muslim minority. Thus the regime was able to sideline the nation’s most qualified, educated, competent, sincere, dedicated and popular politician that is born in Myanmar with a Myanmar father and the only Burmese Peace Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. So naturally their next target was the UNFC. Together with the multinational corporations from the West, and successfully using the Euro Burma Office, where Harn together with the financial backing of Nazi ancestors and its European allies who are bent on creating a favorable environment for business as the German economy in Europe is showing sign of deficit, the Myanmar government has successfully divided the UNFC and compelled the skin head Mutu Say Po and his gang to quit the UNFC. In this way the quasi-military government has outfoxed both the democratic and the ethnic movements of the country.
Betrayal of the Cardinal Principles
Saw Ba U Gyi’s Four Principles have been the guiding principles of the Karen resistance for more than half a century. It was unfortunate that Saw Ba U Gyi did not have much time to elaborate on the Karen principles and too unfortunate for the Karen people of today that he did not leave the Karen a commentary that would serve as a manual to interpreting his words. Perhaps it is the current KNU leadership’s way of reading the principles that can be problematic, not the principles themselves. A call to review the principles only intends to open up discussions and debates that might generate new visions and understandings, the values that true revolutionaries always seek.
The first principle is: “Surrender is out of the question.” The great legal mind was cautious enough not to use the terms such as “negotiation” or “compromise.” He used “surrender,” and it was apparently quite deliberate. Mu Tu Say Po and his gang has not surrender but has changed the principles of revolution at the altar of economic pie and shallow thinking. Business overrules the conscience.
The second principle reads: “We shall retain our arms.” Saw Ba U Gyi was said to be reluctant to start the armed struggle although he was all for other KNU’s initiatives otherwise. In response to the pressure from colleagues and comrades, Saw Ba U Gyi left his position in the cabinet during the colonial era and joined the armed struggle whole heartedly as he also provided decisive and undisputed leadership. Saw Ba U Gyi was more than aware of the phrase he uttered:“We shall retain our arms.” He was less instructive and more determinative. The Karen like any other ethnic group needs to have their own national guard to safeguard the Karen State and when there is a Kawthoolei Police Department to provide safety and security to the Karen people within the Federal Union of Burma. That is a legitimate call and should be upheld as most of the Burmese government cannot be trusted especially the current Myanmar leaders. Has the Myanmar Tatmadaw agreed to these terms? Not to mention the federal army? Why did the current Karen leaders forsake this principle?
The third principle is rather an adamant claim: “Recognition of Karen State must be complete.” For those of us who have lived through and under the successive Burmese administrations – the AFPFL (U Nu government), the BSPP (Ne Win regime), the SLORC (Sen. Gen. Saw Maung regime), and now the SPDC led by Than Shwe including the quasi-military administration of Thein Sein– know well that Karen State or Kawthoolei has always been nothing but an empty name. The “Karen State” envisioned by Saw Ba U Gyi was and is rather an independent polity, which could otherwise be bound only by the Union’s Constitution, consented by the Karen people. Most certainly Saw Ba U Gyi anticipated a “Karen State” governed by the will of the Karen people. Saw Ba U Gyi left the people with a simple yet particular term so that the Karen Revolution would not find itself trapped as the struggle for freedom continues well into the twenty first century where the notion of “state” has been tested by the rapid changes in the world. This explicitly means that he recognized the federal type of administration has the Tatmadaw acquiesce to the Federal system. In that case more than two thirds of the Irrawaddy division are populated by the Karen not to mention the Tennasserim division? Has the government agreed to recognize this area as Karen state. What is the answer of Muto Say Po?
The fourth principle declares: “We shall decide our own political destiny.” This is the essence of federalism. Every people of distinct culture, tradition, history, and language aspires to define and decide what their political destiny will be. And, they demonstrate that inherent aspiration clearly in various ways and they pursue it almost at any cost, whereas we ethnic nationalities have fought for more than half a century against the Myanmarnization led by the Tatmadaw. Equally, that was a simple desire Saw Ba U Gyi had for his people. Of course, as for a man who led the fight for freedom and rights, his further elaboration on Karen’s “political destiny” could have been consciously meant for the Karen to decide collectively as a people. If the KNU have not done so yet, perhaps this is the time to do it. It is time for the KNU to come together as a people to collectively decide upon what their political destiny is and not only a handful of elité turned traitors pretending to be speaking for the entire Karen people. However, since there is no end to a struggle for human dignity, which the Karen struggle is about to decide collectively what their political destiny in the coming KNU Central Committee meeting I am quite positive that it will commit a grave mistake to forsake the other ethnic nationalities who are suffering like the Karen, if not worse.
Raison d’être giving by KNU
Following the decision to temporarily suspend its membership in the UNFC on August 31st, the KNU launched a campaign to clarify its position. Addressing an audience of several hundred at an event in Rangoon organized by the KUPC, where KNU chairman Saw Mutu Sae Poe explained their commitment to ethnic unity and to finding a peaceful political solution. But his words are hollow, how can there be an ethnic unity when he himself initiated for the KNU to quit? The key issue for the KNU with regard to the UNFC which resonated with the audience was the need for the Karen people to decide their own destiny. That is true but it is not only for the Karen but also every Non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities, every ethnic rebelled because they hate the Myanrmarnization policy spearheaded by the Tatmadaw and are fighting for self-determination within the Union of Burma, they believe that the ethnics “are masters of their own fate and makers of their own destination” which is the crux of federalism within the country and not a major race lording over the smaller and weaker race. So there is practically no raison d’être for the KNU to quit the UNFC.
Besides that decision was not based on KNU general consensus. Naw K’nyaw Paw, secretary of the Karen Women Organization with a membership of 49,000 Karen women, said “It is political suicide if the KNU completely stops working with the UNFC. Why the KNU would suspend working with the UNFC at this critical time and what motivations were behind the decision. The KNU have been leading the struggle for equal rights for many decades.” She added that “Karen civil society groups, Karen people in Burma and all over the world, have urged the KNU to rejoin the UNFC. We hope the KNU Standing Committee members will decide to rejoin the UNFC other we do not believe that the KNU alone can achieve peace for the Karen people in Burma. The long-term conflict in Burma will not be solved if the KNU go ahead alone. In this case the so-called peace will only benefit individuals and will be only a peace in paper, and Karen people will continue to suffer.”
The KNU has expressed frustration at what they see is a top-down leadership model in the alliance, which is chaired by the Kachin Independence Organization. But there were many ways the KNU could have found ways to resolve their differences with other ethnic alliance members within the UNFC without taking this decision.
The ethnic struggle is vertical and unlike Yugoslavia it is not horizontal i.e. there is no quarrel between the ethnic communities, KNU have fallen prey to the mechanization of the Myanmar manipulators. “The ethnic alliance never did that to any of the individual alliance members. In fact, the individual members in the alliance continued to make internal decisions and exercise internal sovereignty.” The independent human rights organization, the Karen Human Rights Group, has continued to document human rights abuses in Karen State in spite of the 2012 KNU preliminary ceasefire agreement with the quasi-military government. In a report released this year, KHRG documented wide-scale land confiscation by government or government linked companies that uprooted the lives of locals. The question can be asked: why is the traitor team take on the ongoing abuses to the government? “Even with the ceasefire, the Tatmadaw has been strengthening their military outposts in the Karen territory and has been perpetrating human rights abuses against Karen people, including land confiscation. So if we take this example, then we can see that the quasi-military government likes to deal separately with each ethnic armed group so as to weaken us. This strategy of “divide and rule” is clearly still in practice by the President U Thein Sein administration,” was proved by Naw Keynes Paw.
Naw Ohn Hla, another important spokeswoman from Karen Women’s Union of Burma said “We see that the suspension is in contradiction to KNU policies. The decision also seems to be influenced by individuals, groups and personal attitudes. Therefore, we put out our position statement to voice our concern to KNU over this action.” Mahn Hein Win Sein, chairman of Pantanal Township Karen Literacy and Culture committee, also voiced his concerns “Karen people could not go their own way by trying to separately establish equality and rights for self-determination. These issues related to all ethnic nationalities in Burma. Peace will not be achieved without the equality and unity of all the ethnic nationalities. Whether the KNU Central committee will be bewildered by the skin head liars, or follow the truth, will be decided on 22nd October 2014.
A power struggle seems to be behind the sudden withdrawal of the KNU from the UNFC. It is to be remembered that UNFC leaders dominated talks with the Burmese government about political concerns, and that all financial support and humanitarian aid for the ethnic groups had to be channeled first through the bloc.
Obviously the KNU is not satisfied with the UNFC leadership, which is dominated by the KIO as well as the New Mon State Party (NMSP). KNU leaders have painful memories of when the Kachin and Mon groups signed bilateral ceasefire accords with the government in the mid-1990s, leaving the Karen to bear the brunt of the government’s large-scale military offensives. Since then the alliance has dwindled. Then in 2011 the UNFC become the latest incarnation of previous armed alliances that involved both the KIO and the KNU. Mutu Say Po and his gang are not so broad minded, educated or far sighted and seem bent on revenge and have the“I am the monarch of all I survey” attitude. Some 65 years after the KNU first took up arms against Burma’s central government in 1949, the KNU, which is one of the oldest non state armed groups in the world, now appears to be on the verge of a major split between Mutu Say Poe and his gang of four who favour signing the national ceasefire, and those Karen nationalist led by Naw Zipporah, David Tharckabaw and Padoh Mahn who are statesman and far sighted.
However, forming an alliance to fight a common enemy is very different than forming an alliance to make peace while preparing for the worst. For instance, the UNFC wants to represent the ethnic nationalities in the proposed Tripartite Dialogue (between the Government, Democratic Forces and Ethnic Nationalities as recommended by the UN in 1994). But the ethnics led by KNU construe that democratic forces as once represented by Aung San Suu Kyi is no more. And ethnic parties that were almost strangled to death under the military regime are now alive and kicking.
Even Paul Keenan, well paid by Harn, a senior researcher at the Burma Centre for Ethnic Studies, said.“What detractors should be aware of is the fact that every delay, instigated by the UNFC, only gives the Burma Army more power and therefore defeats their own decades long arguments.”
Similarities of KNU and Tatmadaw
Both do not believe in democracy or consensus. Following the tactics of the Junta orchestrated elections General Mutu Say Po had twisted the KNU 15th congress to elect him the chairman. They both hate the word “Genuine Democracy”.
Both believe in the dictum of Chairman Mao Zedong that power comes out of the barrel of the gun. The Myanmar Tatmadaw has guns so also General Mu Tu Say Po’s KNLA has guns.
Both of them did not believe in the Union of the country what in Burmese is called Pydoungsu Seitdak that is why KNU leave the UNFC leaving the other ethnic nationalities in the doldrums.
Both believe the 2008 Nargis Constitution is the cornerstone of the country and believe that the pro-democracy movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the 8888 generation is over and belongs to history. The current Karen leadership has no inkling to throw their lot in with the people of Burma to overthrow the hated military dictatorship and it wants to be a much smaller dictator.
Both of them will recruit child solders to fight for them and place it in such a way that there was no choice for the Karen youth but to join the Karen army just what the Myanmar Tatmadaw is doing.
Both believe that there is no guarantee that the NLD will win in the 2015 elections and even if it won the elections there is no guarantee that Daw Suu will become President as the people tends to listen to the extremist monks and are very xenophobic.
Even if Daw Suu become President there is no guarantee that the NLD led government will tackle the ethnic question as it has been proven in the NLD’s Interim Constitution (way back in 1988 for although the Socialist military regime collapsed the NLD has failed to carry out the peoples’ mandate due to two important factors. First, the NLD failed to draft an Interim Constitution of Burma based on the essence of Panglong Agreement, the Draft Constitution of Burma Union and Its Territories approved by AFPFL National Convention in 1947 and the Federal Bill of Taunggyi Conference. Instead of drafting a new Interim Constitution to retain the “TRUST” of Signatories of Panglong Agreement and the non-Myanmar ethnic national leaders, the NLD cheaply revised the Constitution of the Union of Burma (1948) and proclaimed that it should be used as interim Constitution for transitory period.
The NLD consequently lost the trust of the ethnic nationals. Second, the majority of NLD’s top leaders are former military officers who were ousted by General Ne Win so that restoration of democracy in Burma is not the priority for them but toppling the military regimes is always their first priority in their head. Even if Daw Suu becomes President, there is no guarantee that she will continue with the political dialogue as she did not give preference to the ethnic nationalities. Even if Daw Suu offers a better deal for the ethnic armed organizations, there is no guarantee that she can control the Army and actually deliver it.
In his famous essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell lamented that political language, at times,“is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In fact, Orwell seems to have believed that the language used was intentionally vague, and at times meaningless, as it was deliberately designed to hide the truth rather than express it. So, in the long-term interest of the country, one should, perhaps, focus more on deeds than words in the KNU and the Myanmar peace process and the KNU should continue to show their solidarity with the UNFC and stay together come what may.
Source: Asian Tribune