The Huffington Post
Thailand seeks to mediate peace talks between Burma’s ruling junta and the Karen ethnic group that it’s been trying to wipe out for 60 years. Norway, meanwhile, hopes to heal the rift between warring Karen factions.
When we think of the face of the opposition to Burma’s ruthless ruling junta, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi usually comes to mind. Now in her fourteenth year of on-again, off-again house arrest, she emerged as a national leader when thousands of protesting students and monks were mowed down by the junta on August 8, 1988. The 8888 Uprising, as it came to be known, was reprised, if on a lesser scale, in 2007 when over 100 civilians and monks were killed during the “Saffron Revolution.”
But the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council — the predictably Orwellian type of name that dictatorships tend to adopt) faces another insurrection in Burma, one with which the West is less familiar. Minority groups have been battling to establish their own states — not to mention escape ethnic cleansing — for years. Eventually, cease-fire agreements with the junta were signed by all, except for the Shans and the Karens.
The Karens, the largest such group, inhabit the Burma-Thailand border region, as well as the Irrawaddy delta, the part of Burma hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis. They’re waging a war against what they call the three A’s — annihilation, absorption, and assimilation — in the form of the Karen National Union (KNU) and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). Continue reading “Twin-Track Talks in Burma Raise Peace Hopes”