Ethnic Group Demands Correction To Their Identity In The 2014 Census

The Geba ethnic group currently incorrectly classified as a Karenni ethnic sub-group by the government has called on the government and relevant officials to correct their identity in the coming 2014 census, as the group recognized itself as Karen.

The call was made in a statement released by representatives of the Geba ethnic group after a conference held on February 7 at Lektho sub-township in Thaungdaungyi Township, Karen State.

Attending the conference were the Ethnic Affair Committee Chairperson, Sai Paung Na from Amyotha Hluttaw [House of Nationalities], members of parliament, Padoh Saw Eh Wah, Chairperson of the Karen National Union (KNU) Taungoo district with his members, other government officials and 566 Geba ethnic representatives from more than 100 villages. All the representatives agreed to recognize the group as Karen ethnic.

Saw Ju Ni, the chairperson of the Geba Ethnic Affair Committee told Karen News that, “We will know our future clearly only if we know our history clearly. That’s why, we organized this event, if our history is not clear, our future will be vague.”

In a statement addressed to the Union government, both parliaments and the Central Census Commission, the Geba ethnic group demanded that its classification code for ethnic sub-group be put under the Karen ethnic group.

According to Saw Ju Ni, Geba ethnic history shows that before 1950, the Geba were recognized as Karen. However, when Burma conducted an ethnic verification in 1951, the verification committee team did not reach as far as Thandaungyi Township in Karen State where the majority of Geba ethnic reside, due to armed conflict. The verification team met with some Geba in Loikaw Town [in Karenni State], so, they were registered and classified incorrectly as Karenni.

General Saw Hla Ngwe from the KNU Taungoo district who attended the conference explained that the Geba are already recognized as Karen by the KNU.

The Geba were also approved as Karen at an emergency conference organized by the Karen National Unity Peace Committee held in Rangoon on 5th February this year.

General Saw Paw Doh, the chairperson of the Karen National Unity Peace Committee said, “The Geba group has been recognized as Karen sub-group without objection. We also support the Geba ethnic committee to propose the change to the relevant [government] department.”

Sai Paung Na said at the conference that as the majority of Geba live in Karen State, the issue will be submitted to Amyotha Hlutta’s [House of Nationalities] Ethnic Affair Committee for the issue need to be considered seriously.

Officials from the Immigration Department of Karen State attended the conference, but did not comment on the issue. According to the code list put out by the Ministry of Immigration & Population, the Geba are classified as Karenni sub-group, Code No.205.

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