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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 Saw Tamla Baw’s Address on 62nd Anniversary of Martyrs’ Day

08 Aug 2012

Respected KNU Leaders, Comrades from the KNLA and the Entire Karen People,

Today, August 12, 2012 is the 62nd Anniversary of Martyrs’ Day, on which we commemorate President Saw Ba U Gyi and the many Karen comrades, who had sacrificed their lives in the struggle for the entire Karen people’s rights to self-determination and national equality. On this historic anniversary, I would like to address all the Karen people, officers and men of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), while commemorating the Karen martyrs.

Firstly, I would like to say that the objective of our commemoration and honoring the martyrs, who had struggled for justice and freedom, is for us to remember them and follow the path they have paved with their lives, blood, sweat and tears. While we are shouldering the unfinished duties of the martyrs, we must all work together for the new generations to inherit and uphold the traditions, ideals and convictions of the martyrs.

Though the Karen people’s revolutionary resistance has been 63 years long, we have not reached the goal we desire, and we are still within the state of national liberation movement. We have learnt bitter lessons a number of times in our national liberation movement because of the sowing of divisions and discords, by various means. In the history of our national liberation movement, while there have been many martyrs the Karen people can be proud of, there have been many despicable and loathsome opportunists also. Opportunism and tokenism cannot uplift either the interest of our people or an individual’s quality and progress but cause only regression. For that reason, all the Karen people, by eliminating opportunism and tokenism within themselves, must march on to victory with the spirit of the martyrs, revolutionary vigilance and political alertness.

Regarding the current political situation, I would like to say that the current government, which came to power through 2010 elections, in accordance with the 2008 Constitution, is carrying out reforms. Though it is said to be building peace with the armed ethnic nationality forces, it is my analysis that the government, in practice, is conducting dialogue with emphasis only on business matters, rather than dialogue for peace with political essence. Moreover, the other fear we find is that, in addition to the very weak participation of the Tatmadaw (government armed forces) in the peace building process of the government, the acts of Tatmadaw, in some cases, are a hindrance and danger to the peace building process. In order to be able to put out the fire of ongoing civil war, we view the participation of Tatmadaw, with a correct attitude, is extremely important.

Accordingly, I would like to urge President U Thein Sein government to conduct a transparent and politically meaningful negotiation, if it desires to establish genuine peace with the ethnic nationalities and proceed to a modern, developed, and democratic new State. Otherwise, the civil war will go on.

Victory of the Karen people’s revolutionary resistance, yearned for by the Karen people, will be achieved only by leadership of the KNU, participation by every Karen in the movement and marching on by upholding the revolutionary and political principles laid down by our Martyr, Saw Ba U Gyi, namely - (1) Surrender is out of the question; (2) We shall retain our arms; (3) Recognition of Karen State must be complete; and (4) We shall decide our own destiny.

Finally, in conclusion, I would like to say that let us march on to victory by cooperating together with the other fellow oppressed ethnic nationality forces and forces fighting for democracy, as the goal of the Karen people’s revolutionary resistance is the establishment of a genuine Democratic Federal Union.


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Karen National Union