March 18, 2007

Question of the Day

Question of the Day and a Question of Interpretation

By – Saw Kapi

The issue of reviewing a national principle or strategy is not as arcane as it sounds: resistance groups and governments alike, both in the past and at present, have reviewed and revised their policies and principles to suit their changing circumstances. The PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), the Sinn Fein, and the ANC (African National Congress) have all done it and have done so successfully without compromising their national aspiration.

But it is often the small-minded nationalist rhetoric that clouds the substance of the issue and drags the people backward. Under the guise of nationalism, some self-proclaimed Karen firebrands like to insist that any talk or negotiation with the adversary is equivalent to surrender and therefore condemnable. In doing so they toy with the emotion of those who have suffered and sacrificed their lives under the Burmese military regime. Such type of "nationalists" often engages in slogan politics but consistently avoids answering the more important questions.

There are some politically sensitive and yet nationally important questions that the Karens as a people collectively need to answer. What should a Karen state constitute, for instance, territorially and administratively? We will not really know how and when the third principle of Saw Ba U Gyi could be completed if we cannot come up with a national consensus on this question. There must be a process where Karen political aspiration is transformed into a viable political consensus that can claim to be the collective voice of Karen people. This process of consensus building must be done well beyond the scope of Karen National Union (KNU), which has been in the periphery of Burmese politics for the past several decades.

The fact that fifty million people of Burma being under the oppressive military regime does not give any automatic right for any opposition group to claim political legitimacy over the people. Those with the fiercest rhetoric need to come to term with realities on the ground and objectively answer some of the most fundamental questions that challenge us. In doing so, questioning, interpreting and deciphering the cornerstone principles of our resistance movement – as a whole or in part – is seemingly inevitable.


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Anonymous said...

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