General Mutu Say Poe, the chairman of the Karen National Union in his New Year address to the community called for unity, solidarity and said that the Karen people have to be proud of their culture and traditions.
General Mutu spoke of the Karen “national characteristics – its calendar, traditions and customs.”
General Mutu stressed the importance of the Karen to know and value their history and to understand the geographical spread of their people.
“We are a distinguished nationality and we possess our own traditions, customs, literature, culture and history. We are the earliest settlers in this country. The Karen people live extensively on a wide area in this country, and a large number of Karen people live also in Thailand. Similarly, the number of Karen people, who have resettled in other countries, is not small.”
General Mutu spoke of the Burma’s government census that will be conducted in 2014 and warned of the importance of the Karen community been accurately reflected.
“The government census should reflect the true number of the Karen people. It is not necessary to separate the Karen people into different dialect groups under such names as Plon, Sgaw, Paku, Bweh, Geko, Gebah, Yin-pyu, Yin-meh, Ma-nu, Ma-naw etc. When the census takers ask you your nationality, just say ‘Karen’.”
General Mutu spoke of rebuilding unity among Karen factions, in recent years the Karen have been split by factional weaknesses.
“Unity is the pillar of strength. There is no other. Unity is the foundation of success. It is important to rebuild unity among the Karen people. Our life experiences, places of birth and religious faiths may be different, but we all are Karen. It is necessary, as well as important, for all the Karen armed organizations to reunite under the one Karen national flag, and struggle on together to realize aspirations of the Karen people. All of us must unite under the one and only Karen national flag.”
General Mutu warned that if the Karen are unable to unite under one political organization it would have dire consequences for the country.
“It is necessary to establish unity and solidarity of the Karen organizations under the one Karen national flag and struggle on jointly in one organization. If the unity and solidarity of the Karen people cannot be established, it is absolutely impossible to establish unity of the entire country. On the other hand, it is truly necessary for all the Karen people, living in different places, to actively cooperate effectively with one mind.”
General Mutu reinforced the Karen National Union’s objective of having political dialogue with the government.
“The KNU has agreed with the government to a ceasefire, because it is necessary for having political dialogue. The political objectives of the KNU are to gain equality and self-determination for the Karen people, and the emergence of a Federal Union. At the same time, the Karen and the entire people are to achieve a life free from worry and a standard of living equal to that of the others.”
General Mutu said the KNU’s political objectives are to forge a genuine peace for Burma.
“To complete its political stand and objectives, the KNU had to adopt the way of armed resistance….the KNU wants to resolve political problems by political means.”
General Mutu pointed out that the KNU had no intention in surrendering its arms.
“At the same time, as [the martyred KNU] leader Saw Ba U Gyi had instructed, arms of the Karen people shall remain in the hands of the Karen people in order not to be oppressed and bullied, as a result of the Karen people’s desire to establish peace in the country.”
General Mutu reiterated that the KNU was committed to resolving political problems through negotiation.
“To secure peace in the country, the KNU is struggling in cooperation with the other ethnic armed resistance organizations [to achieve it].”
General Mutu summarize his address to the Karen community and stressed that the struggle for freedom was far from over.,
“We must maintain, protect and safeguard our traditions, customs, literature, culture and history, and work for development. In the enumeration of the census, we have to boldly say that we are Karens. The Karen people, whether we live in the countryside, in towns, cities or overseas, and all the Karen armed resistance organizations, must be united under the one Karen national flag. Our ultimate goal and objective are the emergence of peace in the country.”
General Mutu called on the Karen people to “establish national unity of the Karen people and join hands under the one and only Karen national flag.”