The Karen National Union (KNU) is a democratic organisation respresenting the Karen people of Burma. Our goal is peace and prosperity in a democratic federal Burma.

KNU President General Saw Tamlabaw’s Address on 64th Anniversary of Karen National Day

11 Feb 2012

Dear Karen Nationals, KNU Members and, KNLA Officers and Men,

Today, the 11th of February 2012 is one of the historic days, being the 64th Anniversary of Karen National Day. On this auspicious day, I would like to wish all the Karens, at home and abroad, to be able to realize their desires fully.

The February 11, which is one of our historic days, is marked as the Karen National Day, to honor the peaceful demonstration held by over 400,000 Karen people, demanding our lost rights of equality, self-determination and peace from the ruling government. The demands written on the placards they carried said:
1) Give Karen State at once;
2) Show Equality Immediately;
3) We Don’t Want Racial Strife;
4) We Don’t Want Civil War.

The peaceful march and demands showed to the World that the Karen people love peace, they did not want conflict and they respect truth, equality etc., which were the true nature of the Karen people.

Though the Karen people made their demands peacefully, the rulers launched a violent suppression attack, instead of conceding to any of the demands. In the 64 years since, the Karen people cannot unite, have spread to various regions and have to face all kinds of trouble.

Every Karen has the duty to free the Karen people from such plight. The KNU alone cannot do it. As the fate of the entire people concerns all the Karen, every one of us must cooperate for the national cause. It cannot be done individually or by a group.

The entire Karen people must work collectively and in unity, in accordance with democratic practices. Only then, we shall reach our goal. While the entire people is in trouble, if there is no unity and if one just works for self-interest or in the interest of one’s family, it would be like pulling oneself down into the sea of misery, or putting oneself into captivity. In the matter of rights, one must obtain one’s rights from the rights of the entire nation. If we worked for self-interest, one’s own freedom and one’s own benefits, we would become divisive and without unity, we would simply drift away from victory.

Today is the time which is vitally important for all the ethnic nationalities. The current government ruling the country is a reincarnation of previous, successive military dictatorships, which had assumed different names, which finally took off uniforms and got into civilian clothes, and which is ruling the country according to the constitution it has drafted at will. Though they say that they are trying to carry out reforms for peace, or “eternal peace”, as they term it, we are still seeing that they are sowing dissension among our ethnic nationalities and among different organizations with divisive plots and crafty enticement.

If they really want to carry out reforms, promote national reconciliation and establish durable peace, they have to display, in practice, transparency in talk, behaviour and performance, which are acceptable to all the ethnic nationalities. The problems of the country must be resolved through negotiation, in a brotherly spirit and on the basis of equality. Since the KNU believes in and accepts this path, the KNU is having dialogue with U Thein Sein government, in order to resolve the political problems by political means and truly achieve national reconciliation. Though there will be serious difficulties due to numerous differences of view and matters to be settled, if all the ethnic forces at home and abroad would variously participate and act, in their own spaces, for justice, the emergence of truth and genuine unity, things would take a course in the direction of positive change. Otherwise, I would like to warn earnestly that we would not be able to escape from the malicious circle of political fight and war, from which we could not have struggled out of, in spite of years of attempt.

In our struggle for national freedom, we, the Karen people, must maintain a broad view, high standard of conviction, undiminished resolve and diligence. In our march to our goal with such concepts and conviction, we must cooperate with our fellow ethnic nationalities and those who are fighting for democracy. Only then, we will be able to achieve the Democratic Federal Union we yearn for.

Finally, I would like to remind the entire Karen people that unity of the entire Karen people is the main driving force for victory of the Karen people. As movement of the Karen people is a correct national movement, it will surely achieve victory. Accordingly, I would like to say in conclusion that with remembrance of the day on which the Karen people had shown unity, let us unite under the Karen national flag and march on in accordance with the political doctrine and program laid down by the KNU to gain the final victory.

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