Giving the opening address at the 10th Karen Unity Seminar, the Karen National Union’s chairperson, Saw Mutu Sae Po called all the attending Karen representatives to work towards what he called ‘unity in diversity’.
General Mutu Sae Po welcome the wide variety of Karen groups attending the event before saying. “We are divided in many ways and means…this disunity is not helping our people, instead our people have suffered – being killed, displaced and scatter in different places.”
General Mutu insisted in his speech that unity is critically important for Karen to work together.
“We have been divided for so long, it is now important for us to be united. We need unity to get out of oppression and brutal treatment and not to pass on the same suffering we went through to our new generation. Unity is a key to achieving this. We have to build our unity upon the values of our diversity.”
The annual Karen Unity Seminar objective for its 10th year was to find ways to encourage Karen unity. This year seminar is held from the 28th to 31st May 2014 at Law Khee Lar in the KNU’s Hpa-an District, Karen State. The seminar was attended by as many as 200 representatives from Karen political organization, youth organizations, women organization, political parties, community based organizations and individual from inside the country and overseas.
Saw Htoo Kli, a director of the Karen Office of Relief and Development (KORD) said this year’s unity seminar discussions shifted from unity issues to peace process issues.
“Most of the representatives brought up topics during the discussion that related to the [current] peace process. The hot issue is the ‘peace process’ and people voiced their feeling as the process has a direct impact on their lives.”
Many representatives questioned the current ideas and approaches of the KNU leadership on the changing political landscape in Burma.
Saw Htoo Kli expressed his views on the issue.
“Due to our experiences throughout our history, some [of the leadership] should hold firmly on to our national struggle [ideals]. However, due to the ever-changing political environment, we have to change the dynamic and strategy of our struggle. So, sometimes on the surface, this appears like our struggle is moving in different directions.”
Saw Htoo Kli also said that Karen unity could be achieved by understanding each others’ differences.
“Self-interest and ego are some of the factors behind Karen disunity, but these can be overcome if everyone works on the basic principles and work in the interest of the people.”