June 27, 2007

Revitalizing Karen National Movement

Revitalizing the Struggle: It is a must, not an option

“Only a consistent, cohesive and reasonable strategy that emanates from a new wave of critical and pragmatic younger generation Karens – who understand the real politics of our times – will be able to revitalize our struggle.”

By - Saw Kapi

Quite some time ago when I read some of the most ridiculous lines from a self-appointed nonetheless misguided “watchdog” threatening to "reveal" my political “secret" in the Karenissues forum, I found it difficult to pay any scant attention; with all due respect, I just assumed that the irrelevant jingo can say what he normally say within his narrowly confined, irrational circle of associates.

It is, in fact, troubling to note that there is a huge gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics - the ease with which some of us are willing to accuse each other, which often result in our singular inability to build a viable consensus to tackle the critical problems confronting our people.

The Burmese military regime’s relentless and unilateral subjugation over Karen villages in the rural parts of Burma is no doubt appalling, but so far as the Karen people are concerned the whole grotesque infightings among the different Karen factions is a remarkable failure in establishing much needed functional unity.

It is never easy, although obvious and unsurprising, to see that the Karen resistance movement, at home and abroad remains as fragmented and self-consumed, thus ineffective, as ever before, but most notably in the recent few months. If the inference is concerned with a sitting government in a functional polity, this realization wouldn’t mean much; but when it is seen in regards to a nation that is facing an active campaign of ethnic cleansing at home, and an international ignorance – as shameful as this may sound – then, the problem is both real and urgent.

Karens in the rural parts of Burma, especially in areas that are frequently penetrated by the imposing Burmese troops – mostly in the eastern side of Salween river, and increasingly everywhere else – are losing their land, their rights, their freedoms and their livelihood at an alarming speed, unprecedented in their turbulent history with the Burmese military occupation. Many of these rural folks that have loyally served as the backbone of Karen resistance movement have been forced to become refugees within self-confined, isolated camps in Thailand, while some of the more fortunate ones are now scattered around the world – thus demoting the status of our national resistance to a more humanitarian strive than a national political fight.

In the early 1960s and 70s, the Karen National Union was regarded as the main body that brought to the fore the Karen struggle as – more than a mere question of a humanitarian issue that needed redress – a national fight for freedom and rights. It must also be acknowledged, as uncomfortable as this may be to some, that the Karen struggle for self-determination has now been reduced to a mere slogan politics, with the regular releases of press statements from the headquarters situated usually a few miles within Thailand. The problem is indeed more exhaustive than a mere ideological or personal quarrels between a few rival political groups; rather, it is an expression of a prevailing factionalism that seems to consume members of various Karen communities regardless of where they are based.

This author's frequent visits and involvement in many activities organized by different Karen groups seem to leave him with the same conclusion: that there is a need for a collective national strategy developed by a national movement that speaks and represents Karen people everywhere.

And only a consistent, cohesive and reasonable strategy that emanates from a new wave of critical and pragmatic younger generation Karens – who understand the real politics of our times – will be able to engage national public opinion and revitalize our struggle. Nonetheless, those in the dogmatic camp seem to regard any move to encourage critical thinking as a threat and hence continue their ardent attempt to disrupt and discourage it at all cost. And yet, after all, reforming and revitalizing our national movement is not even an option - it is a must.


3 comments:

Front Films said...

Dear Friends,

I have finished the film I told you about, it is in Karen and I look forward to you seeing it. Please take look at a clip on my site: frontfilms.com I can send you a dvd too. Keep up the work! ~Matt

Anonymous said...

What is Karenissue forum? Which forum are you referring to? I'm out of context. It'd be good if you can spell out or give a brief explanation in the text of your essay. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

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