It may be spread thinly, but the KNLA soldiers on
General Mu Tu is angry. He’s angry at the Burmese military regime for attacking thousands of unarmed Karen villagers and forcing them to take refuge in jungle hideouts. He’s angry with media pundits and academics for deciding the Karen are a spent force and their struggle dead. And he’s angry with the international community for not doing more to free Burma’s 2,100 political prisoners and to stop the displacement of hundreds of thousands of ethnic people.
Gen Mu Tu waves a newspaper clipping and says: “The international community needs to send its ‘experts’ to come and investigate displacements in Karen State instead of relying on what some academics and journalists write. I don’t know where they get their information – it’s not from going inside, and it’s certainly not from us.”
Gen Mu Tu is the leader of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). He looks more like the grandfather he is than the leader of the largest resistance force fighting the Burmese military regime. But looks can deceive. We met in a safe house on the Thai-Burma border where he discussed how the KNLA has had to adapt its battle plans to match its loss of territory and inability to renew its weaponry.
In June, 1,300 government troops attacked Ler Per Her displacement camp, situated on the Burmese side of the River Moei. Thai authorities say more than 4,000 Karen villagers living in the camp and in the surrounding area sought safety in Thailand. Before Burmese soldiers left Ler Per Her, they booby-trapped and land-mined walkways; waterholes, rice stores, schoolyards and homes, making the old village uninhabitable. Continue reading “We’re not a spent force, says Karen military leader”