Karen ethnic organizations, from both inside Burma and overseas, attended a conference organized by the Karen Worldwide alliance. The conference ran for four days, from 27th February to 1st March, and was held inside Karen State. Karen Worldwide say the conference was called in response to the current political situation in Burma.
A media statement released by Karen Worldwide estimates that 167 people representing Karen communities, religious groups, and representatives from women, youth organization attended the conference.
Karen Worldwide media statement listed the following 12 decisions that were made by consensus by those attending 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.