General Tamlabaw: It’s the time for real change or it’s more of the same

The Karen National Union (KNU) chairman General Saw Tamlabaw used his Karen National Day speech to warn Karen people to be both cautious and united during the ‘peace talk’ that could resolve the 63-years civil war.

“This is an important time for our Karen people. The government has said it is time want for building a lasting peace, but on the other hand they still try to divide us, our organization and split us in many ways.”
Saw Tamlabaw said if the government really wants to have change in Burma they have to gain the trust of the people by their deeds.

“If they really want to build ethnic reconciliation, build a stable and lasting peace, they need to show their actions match their words.”

Saw Tamlabaw speech is read out during the Karen National Day on 11 February, marked by
About 400 Karen civilians, members of the KNU and soldiers attending the meeting in the southern Karen region know as Mergui-Tavoy District or Tenasserim Division in Burmese.

The Karen National Day marks the historical day when 400,000 Karen people held a peaceful protest in Burma in 1948, the large protesting crowd at the time demanded an equal say and pay. Slogans used during the protest were – “Give the Karen State at once”, “Show Karen one Kyat Burmese one Kyat”, “We don’t want ethnic conflict” and “We don’t want civil war”. More than sixty years later and the Karen are still struggling.

Speaking to this year’s crowd of Karen people gathered for the Karen National Day, Saw Kwe Htoo Win, and chairman of the KNU Mergui-Tavoy District told them.

“Our Karen people need their equal rights, we’ve shown by our Karen character of not wanting ethnic conflict and that we love peace and unity.”

Saw Kwee Htoo Win said the four slogans voiced by the Karen people 64- years-ago are still relevant today and their voices demanding ethnic equal rights, peace and unity are still strong.

“Until now we haven’t gained equal rights and the rights to govern ourselves, for our people to exist as a nation. We struggle by political mean, but the Burma rulers use violence – to defend ourselves we have had to take up arms.”
Following the KNU and government delegations preliminary ceasefire arrangement signed on January 12, Burma Army reinforcements, ignoring KNU warnings, used side roads and detonated Karen landmines killing six soldiers.

Saw Tamlabaw said in his speech that any negotiations to resolve the political problems have to be “based on equality and brotherhood. The peace talk with the U Thein Sein government is to resolve political problems by political means and to gain trust and ethnic reconciliation.”

Saw Tamlabaw said. “We need to negotiate and build reconciliation, even where there are many obstacles, oversea based Karen and those inside Burma, we all need to be united to build a genuine equality, we have to work together to bring change.”

Saw Tamlabaw warned if the Karen people did not work together and the government was serious about real political change it would continue the 64-year-old civil war.

“If we don’t work together we will still be locked into political conflict and war.”

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