Karen Revolutionary Day: KNU leader calls for unity and a political solution to end ethnic civil war

KNU President, General Mutu Say Poe, has called for continued ethnic Karen unity while paying respects to the Karen people in a speech marking the 64th anniversary of Karen Revolutionary Resistance Day.

In the speech, General Mutu Say Poe acknowledged the sacrifice of the Karen people in their decades-long conflict with Burma’s military.

“In the period of 64 years of Karen resistance, many of our national leaders, soldiers and people have sacrificed their lives and limbs, blood, sweat and uncountable possessions,” he said.

Karen Revolutionary Day marks the beginning of the Karen taking up arms against Burma’s government on the 31st of January 1949.

General Mutu Say Poe warned that the struggle for ethnic rights and freedom in Burma had not finished, despite the signing of a ceasefire in 2011 with Burma’s military-backed government. “The Karen people have not yet gained their demands with full guarantee, in spite of long resistance movement and great sacrifices.”

The revolution lives on

He said that although the KNU had entered ceasefire negotiations, the revolution was not yet over. “Dialogue and ceasefire do not mean surrender,” he said, “The current ceasefire is an endeavor for reaching the stage of political dialogue. However, in the current situation, we are still within the context of revolutionary armed resistance.

General Mutu Say Poe also stated that the Karen must find a lasting political solution to the conflict, by talking with Burma’s military.

“The KNU position is that as the conflict is a political problem, the best way to resolve it is through a meaningful face-to-face political dialogue. In accordance with our policy of resolving the political problem politically and based on our experience in the resistance, we have agreed to preliminary ceasefire through recent rounds of dialogue.”

But General Mutu Saw Poe warned that peace talks were still preliminary, “We still have not reached the stage of firm ceasefire.”

A United Front

Mutu Say Poe called for a united front of ethnic minorities in order to ensure that minority rights would be respected in future.

“The cooperation and participation of the ethnic nationalities is vitally important for the acceptable resolution of the main political problem that has caused civil war in Burma/Myanmar.”

“Currently, the Burmese/Myanmar government in power has made overtures to the ethnic nationality organizations to cease fire for holding talks, in order to establish peace in the country,” yet the ceasefire talks could not be seen as a stable solution until, “[A] code of conduct [is established] to be observed by the troops of both sides. “As we have not reached the stage of acceptable resolution of the political problem, peace cannot still be established.”

In finishing his speech Mutu Say Poe encouraged the Karen people to continue their fight for their rights and freedoms. “I would like to urge the entire Karen people to be patriotically motivated for advancement and growth, as a people, to be proud of your roots, to work for unity and understanding among the Karen people,” he concluded.

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