The Karen National Union briefed 168 representatives from its departments and 63 Karen civil society organizations at Law Khee Lar (also known as) Lay Wah in Pa-An district, Karen State from 4 to 5 October, 2019.
The KNU said the aim of the meeting was to update community groups on the current political negotiations it faced – items discussed included the peace process and ceasefire agreement, the monitoring committee’s role, and working with other ethnic armed organizations.
P’doh Saw Hla Tun, KNU joint secretary (2) told Karen News it was important to brief community based groups. “Throughout the evolving peace process, our Karen civil society organizations should be aware of the processes. There will be roles for them to play to [help] improve the situation. If our civil society organizations know what and how we are proceeding, this will enable us to move forward in unity and in harmony to realize our goal for genuine peace.”
The KNU discussed how Karen civil society organizations, Karen political parties, Karen youth groups and Karen people could be involved in the peace process. The KNU listened to civil society group suggestions and said would consider them.
Saw Kyaw Swar, Secretary of the Karen Affairs Committee said the KNU meeting with with community groups “is good for peace building. Our civil society organizations will become more aware of how the peace process works and what are the difficulties faced by KNU. As we learn what the difficulties and conflict are, we will be able to see spaces where we can play a role.”
The KNU also took the opportunity at the meeting to pay tribute to Naw Ohn Hla and two Karen youth leaders Saw Albert Cho and S’ Thein Zaw Min arrested and jailed by Burma authorities for organizing a Karen Martyrs’ Day event in Rangoon. The KNU Chairman General Saw Mu Tu Sae Po presented the three activists with certificates of honor in appreciation for their stand on Karen Martyrs’ Day.
Naw Ohn Hla, Chairperson of the Karen Women Union and one of those arrested told Karen News of the difficulties experienced in trying to organize Karen Martyrs’ Day.
“It was difficult last year and this year was worse. It was good the KNU backed us up. We were happy to see they put out statements in support of. It was a strength for us when they released their statements. We are pleased to receive these certificates of honor because it is a sign that our leaders support us and what we were doing was right.”
Naw Ohn Hla and two Karen youth leaders were charged under section 20 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and sentenced to 15 days in jail. On the day of sentencing more than one thousand people peacefully marched to the court in Kyauk Tadar township of Rangoon in support of the Karen activists. On October 2, the police charged three women for marching under the same law.