Karen people living in the USA gathered in front of the White House in Washington DC to call for sanctions to be continued to be imposed on Burma. The Karen began their protest outside the White House on November 11, 2016.
The more than 700 Karen protesters said that the lifting of sanctions on Burma by the US government was too soon considering the worsening political situation in ethnic areas and the ongoing human rights violations taking place in conflict affected areas.
Karen people from as many as 18 States including Washington, California, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York and Ohio joined together to protest.
Saw Day Lay Htoo, one of the leaders of the demonstration told Karen News that it is too early to trust the Burma government.
“Although there have not been any improvement in Burma, the US government has withdrawn sanctions imposed on Burma – it is beneficial only to the authorities,” Saw Day Lay Htoo said.
“We have been worried that the Burmese government would take advantage of it. The peace process implemented by the new government has yet to produce any significant developments and yet there are still human rights violations in the regions of ethnic people, the international community, including US government should not totally put their trust in the Burmese government.”
The Karen protesters shouted slogans such as “stop human rights violation”, “withdraw government troops from ethnic areas”, “stop the dam projects” and “reconsider the withdrawal of sanctions imposed on Burmese government”. The protesters urged the international community to realize the real situation in Burma and to ban the sale of arms and ammunition to its government.
Saw Te Nee from North Carolina said, “The aims of the demonstration was very good. However, some people were not able to participate due to their busy schedule at work. They need to have a better communication for future demonstrations.”
The demonstration was held by US based Karen ethnic people worried about the lifting of sanctions imposed on Burma by the US president Barack Obama when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited the US in September.
60 days after the withdrawal of the sanctions, the US government has offered a special trade privilege status to Burma and has started buying fishery products, finished wood, jewelry – a total of 500 different goods.
Because of the civil war in Burma, over 70,000 Karen people resettled in the US through refugee camps along Thai-Burma borders.