Peace hopes real, but Karen remain wary

  • Writer: Saw Wei Thoo
  • Published: 15/01/2012 at 12:00 AM
  • Bangkok Post

It was a heart-pounding moment for many Karen around the world waiting to hear the outcomes of Thursday’s peace talks between the Karen National Union and the Burmese government. It was a moment of hope _ at last thoughts of a peace that we have been longing for for decades. The results of the talks are so far, confusing for many Karen _ do we have a peace deal or not? Ceasefire agreements in the past between military-backed Burmese governments and the KNU have always ended in tatters.

The KNU has been fighting against the military regime that has dominated Burma for more than 60 years. I have never known peace, my father has never known peace. We live in a country that has never reaped the benefits of the stability that peace brings.

Our village of 5,000 or so people has no electricity _ that means no refrigeration for medicine or food. It is even hard to buy candles. To get to the cities takes days during the wet season as the roads are unusable. Not only are the roads bad, but we also have to pay taxes at the many military checkpoints. Our bags are searched. If we do not have the correct travel documents, even for short trips, we are interrogated.

Our schools are run down. We cannot teach our own language to our children.

Our farmers are good at their work and care for the environment, but because of the policies of the previous military government they cannot spend time on their farms. For instance, the Burmese army places them on monthly rosters for forced labour. Continue reading “Peace hopes real, but Karen remain wary”

Burma Army wants SSA out from strategic township_ART OF WAR

The SSA in turn wanted the Burma Army to withdraw its units from Homong (opposite Maehongson) and Monghta (opposite Chiangmai). Both sides had agreed to refer to their respective superiors to decide on the matter.

Mongyawng, 2,754 square miles (7,050 square kilometers), is also located alongside the international river Mekong.

“Nothing to be surprised about,” commented a former Communist officer living at the Sino-Burma border town of Mongla, where the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) is based. “They (the Burma Army) wanted Mongla out too.”

Better known as Mongla group, the NDAA roughly occupies half of the total area of the township. It was pushed out of its two bases: Wan Kho and Pong Hiet, along the Mekong last year, but had refused to budge from the last two: Mong Fan and, more importantly, Hsop Lwe (known to Mongla as Hsop Khong) river port.

The ex-Communist Party of Burma (CPB) officer, who requested anonymity, asked rhetorically, “Who will want to leave Mongyawng once he’s there? The place is highly fertile, is known to possess several precious natural resources (iron, coal, silver etc.) and, moreover, shares border with China and Laos. Additionally, anyone who has Mongyawng has easy access to Thailand and, through it, to the outside world.”

“The Art of War” by China’s warrior-philosopher (BC 551-467), calls an area which forms the key to three contiguous states as “intersecting ground” and declares “he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command.” On such ground, he advises, “join hands with your allies.”

One of the treatise’s commentators, Ho Yanxi, also suggests. “First occupy this ground, and the people will have to go with you. So if you get it, you are secure. If you lose it, you are in peril.”