Burma: Railway to Transform Relationship between KNU and Burmese Government

17.may 2012

The Burmese government will implement a plan to restart construction on the railway spanning from Thailand to Burma that was built by the Empire of Japan during World War II. This was addressed in a speech given by the Railway Minister, Aung Min, during the opening ceremony for the liaison office of Karen National Union (KNU)  at Three Pagodas Pass 15 May, 2012.

Aung Min who is a peace negotiator from the Burmese government said that his government has already spoken with the Thai government about the project. Plans to restart construction are expected to begin soon.

Aung Min who is a peace negotiator from the Burmese government spoke at the opening liaison office for KNU in Three Pagodas Pass. (Photo: Kaowao)

The construction is intended to boost bilateral trade between Burma and Thailand. Locals of Three Pagodas Pass will benefit from increased trade, said Aung Min.

The railway stretches 415 kilometers (258 mi.) between Bangkok and Rangoon. In 1943 thousands of allied Prisoners of War (POW) and Asian laborers worked on the construction of the Death Railway under the imperial Japanese army. About 1,740 people were killed and buried at the war cemetery in Kanchanaburi. Among the victims were many British.

The railway was abandoned over the past six decades during the fighting between KNU and government troops. During that time local drivers traveling from Three Pagodas Pass to Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, Kyar Inn Seik Gyi Township or Karen State used the railway as a road for their cars.

Aung Min said that the government will restart construction of the abandoned railway and will no longer allow cars to drive on the tracks. However, the government will be accommodating local drivers by building a new road for use by cars.

The KNU opened a second liaison office in Three Pagodas Pass. About 400 people attended the opening ceremony yesterday and the chief of the army from Karen National Liberation Army, the armed wing of KNU, General Mutu Say Poe, attended the ceremony.

Aung Min told the people that Burma can restore peace once the country has reformed the political situation and begins heading towards a democratic nation. Peace is important in order to develop the country.

Without having peace between the government and the ethnic armed groups, there will be no development and the country will continue to run poorly. Therefore, he told KNU leaders that maintaining a permanent peace was top priority.

Gen. Mutu Say Poe said that the KNU fought for equal rights for 63 years. There were many killings between Burmese and Karen since the time of the country’s independence.

The permanence of peace depends on the sincerity of the Burmese government when dealing with political problems.

Senior officials from the Burmese government, including Aung Min, Immigration and Population Ministers, Khin Ye, and the chief Minister from Karen State, Zaw Min, were also in attendance for the office opening at Three Pagodas Pass.    http://www.kaowao.org/2012news-May-17.php

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