Indeed, Unity is Strength. “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” it is said. The Karen poem (Htah) declared,
“Brothers and Sisters,
We can push up heaven,
If we are like minded,
When it is fallen.”
What a great inspiration!
The Karen leaders with various backgrounds and different idealogies established the Karen unity by forming the Karen National Union (KNU) in 1947. Again, on 11th February, 1948 the ‘All Karen Movement’ was started by the Karen people everywhere through peaceful demonstration nation-wide, expressing the (4) demands for the whole Karen nation.
Instead of seeking to resolve the political solution peacefully, the AFPFL government led by the Prime Minister U Nu used the armed forces to subdue the Karen national aspiration.
And then, the Karen Resistant Movement had to start to defend the Karen people and to achieve the political desires of the whole Karen population. Thus, the Karen Armed Struggle was born on 31st January, 1949.
Unexpectedly, the All Karen Movement was rekindled during the period of the then President U Thein Sein (2011 – 2015). The Karen Unity and Peace Committee (KUPC) was formed in 2013 with the (3) objectives:
1. Karen Unity
2. Karen Prosperity, and
While the KUPC was trying together with the Karen people to achieve the objectives, not surprisingly, the Bamar Army headed by Min Aung Hlaing staged coup d’etat on 1st February, 2021. So, then, the Karen movement was stalled.
The Karen National Union (KNU)
The last KNU Congress was held in 2017. According to the KNU Constitution, the need to convene the Congress four yearly was in 2021 but forced to be postponed due to the Covid pandemic and postponed again by the aerial attacks by the Bamar Airforce.
Despite these drawbacks, the Congress is now convening by (3) steps program through online technique. Some may see it as the “Best Solution for the Worst Situation”, but naturally others may disagree. Whatever may be, my observation is, ” the train has left the station and is now running to its destination – Election of a new KNU leadership (Central Standing Committee & Central Executive Committee members) and to lay down suitable new policies and strategies for challenges ahead.”
We all hope to see a new strong, firm, and effective leadership at the central level.
For the Sake of Unity
We all love our Karen people! Right? Out of this love we have concern and willingness to serve our people. True? We know individuals and groups – Unions, Parties, CBOs, FBOs, etc., – have been doing it and are now still striving and struggling for their people in this critical time. How wonderful and grateful we are for their services!
Surely and definitely, all these actors have their own shortcomings and strong points. Some may be political or others personal. Whatever may be, first and foremost they must clean their own houses.
Problems inside KNU
KNU is not a ‘Top Down’ organization, but a ‘Bottom Up’ one. All members are first to register at the Village level. This is an initial start for a member. The Village level has only Village organization. But Township, District, and Central levels have their respective Congress, Standing Committee and Executive Committee. Upon the foundation, the KNU Constitution/Basic Law, the Union was built up and has laws, rules, regulations, by-laws, etc. Therefore, let them clear the mess.
Let’s face the fact. I totally agree with the concerns of the international Karen groups that dealing with an international criminal organization, knowingly or unknowingly, is a grave mistake and foolishness. It must be corrected.
Besides that, receiving an unacceptable dishonourable honour from the enemy of our Karen people and the whole country is madness. This kind of similar horrible mistake was committed by the first KNU Chairman, Saw San Poe Thin, in 1948.
Damage was done by an individual or a group in these cases. The KNU has to deal with it. It must find, fix, and finish it at all.
My message to the Congress’ participants is, “Please purge, prune, and purify the KNU and elect the most suitable persons for the leadership positions, as quick as you can.”
For those who made the mistakes, I want to say as my Saviour said, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”
All the Karen organizations and individuals, “Let’s be united for One purpose. With love and concern for our Karen people, let’s stick together, strike together, work together, unite together, and win together.” That’s the way, the only way, and none other!
Most challenging One for all of us is, “How can we act to achieve the Karen Unity in Diversity?” Let’s consider it seriously and please share our thinking soon.
Pu Ta Thee (Grandfather Death)
KNU Ordinary Village Level Member
Phone – +66 82 834 1412
Email – [email protected]
Date: 28 February 2023
Note* The author is the advisor of the KNU, DKBA and KNU/KNLA PC. Former advisor to the PPST. And currently manager of the KNU Strategic Team. This analysis doesn’t reflect SHAN’s point of views.