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The Struggle to freedom


Bu Gay Soe Lamyint 

The Karen ethnic group is one of the largest minorities in Myanmar with an estimated population of 5 to 7 million. There are approximately twenty dialects of which Pwo Karen and Sgaw Karen are spoken by the majority of the population. During the mid-1900s the Karen National Union, founded by Saw Ba Oo Gyi, declared war on the Burmese government in the hope to gain independence upon victory. To accomplish such a victory, Saw Ba Oo Gyi commented on three ways the Karen leader should abide by; Armed struggles, political dialogues and a negotiated settlement with the Burmese government, and international intervention and arrangement on the Karen people’s behalf. Seventy years have passed but the conflict remains between the Burmese and the Karen people. There are many pros to the statement however there are more cons. The concept has led to very little success in the initial goal for the Karen people due to many reasons. Armed Struggles have caused post-traumatic destress disorder, poor mental health of many individuals, the separation of families, and the death of many innocents, which only became worse over time. International intervention opens too many opportunities for the people of power from other nations to take over. Political dialogue and a negotiated settlement with the Burmese Government forces the Karen people to compromise not for their benefit but the benefit of the Burmese government.
The Karen National Union declared war against the Burmese government in early 1949. Seventy years later, it seems the civil war will never end with the path of both parties fighting for territories and wealth in an educated generation. Decades of armed conflict have devastated many Karen people. War can result in many negative consequences such as mental health, prevalence rate, and low mortality rate. War is impacting our nation in a way that leaves families in pieces and veterans affected due to violence in the never-ending civil war. Despite the will to fight for their country, they are disregarded and go unrecognised to receive support for their life and families. On the other hand, our military leaders focus on the importance of gaining power rather than peace and protection for our people, culture, and motherland. Furthermore, The Karen nation faces internal conflicts among warlords trying to balance the true goal of gaining independence, wealth, and religion. Creating disputes between citizens of Karen leads to a path of setbacks for the nation. Most of our people in developed countries understand the generation of gaining independence via war is long concluded. However, with Karen military warlord’s dictatorship of the nation and the Burmese military regimes, it appears bloodshed is conceivably the only path to independence. 

The best outcome from any conflict is to compromise and negotiate terms acceptable to all parties to minimise or remove tensions. However, this requires all parties to cooperate and have trust in one another to gain a successful outcome. If Karen and Burmese settle their differences and agree on terms that protect the civilians in any shapes or form for the cultures, and the future of the country, this could potentially be the best cause of action for both nations. Additionally, this path will demonstrate no casualties for both nations, less destruction of lands and developed areas, and the freedom for both nations which will result in the benefits of civilians, economic growth, and the reserve of cultures. Despite the benefits of the path outcomes, a recent agreement between nations was held in 2015 to conclude conflicts and aside from the differences. However, the Burmese military violated the agreement resulting in more conflicts and less trust among nations. This is the ideal path to independence, nevertheless, the Burmese military regimes have demonstrated their capabilities of protecting their words and making the Karen nation who seek independence under the Burmese military dictatorship an impossible task.

The people of power will take over if we let it and permitting international intervention will lead to exactly this. Accepting international intervention and arrangement on Karen peoples’ behalf may help obtain peace but discourages their right to freedom. This statement opens up to defeat and provokes outsiders to take over leaving the Karen people powerless. Given the chance, the dominance of leaders in other nations can show up to intervene and restrict the lives of the Karen people as they have it their way. The Karen people are already suffering enough from just the Burmese government who have enacted abusive law and enforced poorly conceived policies that had led to the displacements of many Minor ethnic groups. Although international intervention may be beneficial to the Karen people by the potential formation of relationships between nations which could then develop into successful international relations, the Karen people need to construct the foundation of their nation. Moreover, as Karen are not the typically outspoken personnel and have little experience in such areas, it would take time and education to succeed in any goals we may have. Regardless of the potential success of Saw Ba Oo Gyi’s approach, the prospect to rely solely on Karen people by having their say will sufficiently develop themselves as citizens and a humble nation.

The culture of military regimes makes it hard to obtain freedom for the Karen nation with many military groups competing and fighting among themselves to gain popularity over the support of the Karen nation. Popularity means they can develop a powerful military group with financial support and the leader of the group has the power to distribute or ultise in any shape or form. Also, this system develops many individuals wanting to command military groups to gain power which results in the Karen nation divided into many forces that opposed one another. The developing countries have demonstrated that military dictatorship in this generation will not involve peace. It is evident that most military in third world countries specialise in the deployment of violence, poor management for the civilians, and taking advantage of their power. Saw Ba Oo Gyi left us three ways of gaining independence and freedom in which are, armed struggles, Political dialogue and a negotiated settlement with the Burmese Government, and International intervention and arrangements on Karen people’s behalf. All three paths can be viewed as a successful outcome when conducted correctly. However, due to the current system set by Karen military groups and the Burmese military regimes, paths left by Saw Ba Oo Gyi seems impossible to perform. Furthermore, our leaders seem to prioritise the wrong goal in overcoming the obstacles they face. They fail to maintain the next generation’s future, civilian protection, and peace among all Karen organisations which resulted in an outcome that sees armed struggle as an impossible task. Being a leader requires selfless ambitions however the current leaders in the Karen nation have not proven to be one. This affects future generations in foreign countries with high education who are unable to use their full potential and knowledge in assisting the Karen nation in which the political dialogue and a negotiated settlement with the Burmese Government may seem out of reach. Additionally, Burmese military regimes have demonstrated terms met in agreements are nothing but words. Rather than developed countries gaining the freedom for the Karen nation, our leaders should develop relationships with other nations which could potentially have many positive impacts on the path to freedom. The Karen nation must rely on themselves to build a strong foundation for future generations to continue. To succeed in such freedom and independence, unity is a must for the nation to develop its full potential. Our leaders of the Karen nation must set examples for future generations and focus on building an unbreakable structure for all Karen to unite. Whether you are a leader or a civilian, we share the same goal and that is to gain freedom and independence for the Karen nation.