Saw Ba U Gyi’s three strategies and Karen struggle for freedom
SAW EH TATAW
The Karen’s History record showed that, the Karen was the first group who came to Kaw Lah which now called Myanmar. In addition, The Karen ethnic group is a large ethnic group which has their own literature, languages, culture and their own tradition. In addition, the Karen was the largest ethnic group in Myanmar. The Karen was an ethnic that appreciate peace, freedom and equality. Moreover, The Karen does not desire violence and conflict. Kaw Lah which called Myanmar was a plentiful land which full of green plants and it’s full of fertilizer in some written Karen history. It was also good to settle so that the Karen established their live hood in this land. After the Karen established their live hood, the other ethnic groups also arrive to Kaw Lah which called Myanmar where the Karen live in as well. From then, the Karen and other ethnic group’s populations have been increased and the conflict began to happen among the Karen and other ethnic groups. Since there, the Karen people faced mistreating for various reason until this day.
According to written history, during Japanese invasion of Myanmar, some Karen people cooperate with Japanese troops and some people participate in Myanmar military. However, there is nothing change about mistreating for Karen people from both Japanese and Burmese governor. In addition, there also no opportunity for Karen people to live by themselves. During this duration, teen ages Karen girls are being raped and pregnant mother are being killed heartlessly including their baby. At that time, there was no opportunity for Karen people to learn their own literature. If the government see that the Karen were learning their alphabets their hands were cut off and if they read their language, their eyes were taken off by the government. If we carefully think of the incident of the Karen, it was only hateful and make us to be misery. After Japanese invasion, the life standard of Karen began to improve during British colonization. Many of Karen are starting to join British army to fight against Burmese and their alliances. The Karen began to study their literature and some Karen go to university during English colonization. Furthermore, the Karen also improve in educational political knowledge as they have an opportunity to study.
Since earlier Burma gained its independent from British in 1948, the leaders of the Karen peacefully started to struggle for equality and self-determination from Union of Myanmar government. In contract, the government does not approve the struggling of the Karen leaders. As the Karen was the one who appreciated peace, they did not want conflict to be happened in the country. On February 11th, 1948 more than four hundred thousand Karen people around Myanmar gather together and peacefully went on demonstration and asked for self-determination and equality with the creation of Karen state. There were four slogan they bring with them during demonstration which included that “Karen state must be given at once, show the Karen one kyat and Burmese one kyat, we do not want ethnic conflict, and we do not want state civil war”. The Burmese government refuse their attention to the voice of Karen people. The Burmese military began to oppress the Karen people and used different strategy’s to separate the Karen. Similarly, the Karen also began to fight against the Burmese military to protect themselves on January 31, 1949 and its day marked as Karen Revolution day. Saw Ba Oo Gyi was the founder and well known person of the Karen revolution.
After the beginning of the Karen revolution, the congress was held in (Papu) in 1950’s. Saw Ba Oo Gyi was a chair person and he open the congress with these speeches at the opening ceremony of the congress. His speeches are as the following below.
The Karen revolution must be the first time and also the last revolution.
If the Karen revolutionaries do not go to Yango and let their neck to be cut, the Karen revolution will never lose.
If the Karen people really need their state, they must follow what the Burmese want them to do and the Burmese people also must do as the Karen people desire not to separate from the Burmese.
By the time all the Karen people know themselves as a Karen that is the day that the Karen gain their independent and their state.
There are three ways for the Karen people to have their state due to their struggled.
The compassion of the enemy show to the Karen and accomplish their country.
The Karen win the war against their enemy and attain their country.
The various oppression of Civil and international intervention on political situation so that the Karen could acquire their country.
I want to share some ideas according to the speeches of our first Karen revolution leader Saw Ba Oo Gyi on this writing competition. As Saw Ba Oo gyi was a respected leader for our Karen people, His speeches also was remarkable on the Karen revolution. In my points of view, his speeches are all correct and Karen people are unlucky to be born in Myanmar also called (Burma). According to the world history, Burma was the only country that has the longest civil war between its ethnic group and its government. Since early independent of Burma, civil war began in Burma and still does not exist until nowadays. As Saw Ba Oo Gyi said, Karen revolution must be the first and the last revolution, it means very auspicious. Every revolution must be built only one time. The Karen revolution also must not build twice. In addition, if the Karen revolution is built for the second time it’s similar that the Karen lose the war fighting for self-determination. It is also seem as the person who formed the revolution also mislead the Karen people to achieve their goal to reach to freedom. Similarly, as he said that “if the Karen revolutionaries do not go to Yangon and let their neck cut by the Burmese; the Karen revolution will never exist”. According to this word, I would like to express that Karen people are the only ethnic group that longest fight against the brutal Burmese military. The Karen revolution is last for over seventy years but the Karen people still strong on the way of revolution because the revolutionaries are not going to Yangon and let their neck cut by the brutal Burmese military. Furthermore, he said that, “if Karen people want their state, they must acknowledge what the Burmese want them to follow. In the same ways, the Burmese also must be tolerate to the Karen not to separate from them as well as they wanted the Karen to follow”. This word means very important on current situation between the Karen and Burmese authority government negotiation on Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement which well known as (NCA) processes. On the other hand, not only the Karen signed the NCA’s but also other ethnic groups in Myanmar sign this content. They regulations are set for both Burmese authority and minorities ethnic groups that agree to sign the NCA processes. In addition, the Karen was the main person on this processes, so it was very important for the Karen leader to decide right decision.
According to the Joint monitoring Committee statement, Burmese government must respect minorities’ ethnic as the ethnic must respect them. As every little things has its own dignity, the minorities group also has its own right that the government should respect them. The next word of Saw Ba Oo Gyi was “the Karen will get their country by the day all the Karen know themselves that they are Karen”. As the Karen people were the largest group in Myanmar, there were many different tracks of Karen that share different tradition and culture. We can openly see that there were many different types of Karen rebel groups such as Democratic Karen benevolent Army (DKBA), Border Guard Force (BGF), and Karen National Liberation Army- Peace council (KNLA-PC). In my points of view, if all these rebel groups could gather into the same rebel and fight for the Karen freedom and equal right, there is no way for the brutal Burmese military to oppress the Karen people in Karen state. I strongly believe that by the day all these Karen rebel groups organize themselves as one together fight against the brutal authoritarians, it would be sure that the Karen will get their independent from Myanmar authority’s. In addition, if all Karen know themselves that they are Karen, and struggle for freedom; it will lead take us to the victory. The last word which say that there are three ways for the Karen resistance to obtain peace and achieve success. The three ways are as the statements below.
The first way for the Karen struggle to be successful was “the compassion of the enemy show to the Karen and the Karen accomplish their country’. In my perspective, this way will never come true to the Karen to accomplish their country. In addition, since Burma gained independent from British in 1948, the conflict began to happen between the Karen and the Union of Myanmar authority. At very first sight, the Karen propose to have their state in peaceful way but the Union of Myanmar government refuse to approve the Karen proposal. So, the civil war broke out between the Burmese military and the Karen armed group. In my opinions, it will be impossible for the Union of Myanmar authoritarian to show mercy on the Karen people. If the government wanted to show mercy on Karen people, the Karen would not have to fight for their freedom for over seventy years. On the other hand, during this seventy years many of Karen martyr have to scarify themselves and many innocent civilians being killed without any reason in every parts of Karen state. In addition, since the beginning of Karen resistance, the Burmese military have a plan that; they would abolish the Karen until the next generation will not know who and what the Karen people are. If the new generation want to see the Karen, they will have to go to theatre to see the Karen. If we carefully think of this plan, how can we say that our enemy will show mercy to us and give us our country? If my opinion is not wrong, our enemy will not tyrannize us for over seventy years. In addition, many women and girl will not have to be adulterous to brutal Burmese military. Furthermore, many houses were burned and many of Karen people became refugee and escape themselves into other country. Many of Karen people and other ethnic group become displace person and homeless due to civil war between Myanmar authoritarian military and minority’s ethnic groups in Myanmar. That is why I want to say it is impossible for the Karen to have their country by the first way that Saw Ba Oo Gyi said before he’s dead.
The second way for the Karen people to have their country that Saw Ba Oo Gyi expected was “The Karen win the war against their enemy and attain their country”. This way also was significantly must be analyzed through the way of Karen revolution. Since 1949 to 2020 it was over seventy years that the Karen fight against Myanmar authority system but the Karen still does not reach the victory. There were no other ethnic groups that long fight against the Union of Myanmar military such as the Karen. On the other hand, there were many obstacle for the Karen to fight against the Burmese military because the Karen have many armed struggle groups. As the Karen have different armed groups, those armed groups have different types of political view so that it make our enemy stronger to destroy the Karen revolution. Since 1994, the Karen armed group began to break up in to two groups because the enemy use strategy to unattached the Karen. The Karen Headquarter which called (Ma Ner Plaw) also fall onto the enemy because the Karen were separated into two group due to enemy persuasion. As for me, I feel that if the Karen people do not fight for what they want, they will never see victory. The only that can give the Karen country was we have to conquer the war against the brutal military of Myanmar. In addition, if we do not try to fight for what we need, we will never have it until our last breath. We must fight for our country, serve for nation, and scarify ourselves for our right. Furthermore, as our Karen ancestor said, the separate cattle will be eaten by the tiger. In the same way, if the Karen armed group still stay separate from our KNU, we will be defeated by brutal Myanmar authoritarian military. On the other hand, it is not easy for the Karen to win against brutal authoritarian military as long as the Karen have many different armed groups. In addition, if the Karen get its own independent before they can organize themselves as one; it would be very difficult to decide who will be the leader of Karen. The conflict will happen again and the Karen will fight against each other among the Karen armed groups. Our fundamental enemy which was brutal Burmese military use multifarious tactics within the Karen armed group to eliminate us not to have the same perspective to fight against them. In my opinion, I want to say that it is time for our Karen people to be unify to fight against the brutal Burmese military. If we do not get together and fight for our freedom from now, the brutal Burmese government will take control of our land and we will have to be the slave for the brutal Burmese military. In order not to be slave for the Burmese military, we must come together as one big family and fight for our self-determination and equal right. It was also our responsibility to fight for our land which called Kaw Thoo Lei also known as Myanmar. To all Karen armed groups, let’s take away misunderstanding on each other and together let’s abolish the brutal Burmese military from our land. I strongly believe that, if the Karen armed struggle groups could stand together and fight for the Karen independent, there would be no far for the Karen to reach to our ambition that we have been fighting throughout seventy years.
“The various oppression of Civil and international intervention on political situation so that the Karen could acquire their country” was the last way that Saw Ba Oo Gyi predicted for the Karen to have their own country. It was very true to current situation in Myanmar due to NCA’s peace talk processes. On October 15, 2015 Myanmar and its ethnic groups signed the NCA to welcome peace and equality into Myanmar. In my points of view, it is not possible for the other people to write our history. In addition, The Karen history must be written by the Karen and the Karen should decide their own destiny. In addition, even if the other could write the Karen history, it is not worth and accurate than we write by our own. Since the beginning of the resistance, many of our previous leaders did not want the armed struggle and they tried to get self-determination through political discussion with Union of Myanmar governments. In contract, the discussion was not approve and finally their discussion went into armed struggle throughout all around Myanmar. In comparison of current and the previous situation, we can clearly see that many situation were changed according to NCA’s processes. In addition, there were many things changing in economy, transportations, educational and livelihood. In contract, as many things were changing there were many challenges that secretly wipe out the Karen people. As transportations and Economy were developing, illegal goods and drug were importing in to Karen society and it has bad impact on some young people. Furthermore, many of villager’s land and paddy-fields that take place close to the main road were confiscated and destroy due to developing transportations system. The education also were developed in Karen state because of NCA peace talk processes. Unlike before, many villages in Karen state build-up the school and many children have an opportunity to study. In the past, there was no chance for the Karen people to study and they even say education is not more important than working on the farm. As there were developing about in educational, there were challenging about education system. As a result, there were the different between the Union of Myanmar curriculum and the Karen Education and Culture Department curriculum. In addition, because of different curriculum, many students and teachers from Karen state faced languages subject problems. Moreover, students graduated from Myanmar government school are accepted to continue their study at KNU’s school but students graduated from KNU’s school are not accepted to continue their study at Myanmar government school. In my opinion, the third way that saw Ba Oo Gyi had predicted for the Karen people to have their country also cannot be possible. As above mentions, another obstacles for the Karen to get their country through international political intervention was that there is not only one armed struggle group’s work for the freedom of Karen. In addition, this obstacle was the worst confrontation among the Karen armed struggle groups.
Last of all, different people might agree to the different content on Saw Ba Oo Gyi speeches. Some people might agree on the first prediction, some might agree on second prediction and some might agree on the third prediction. As for me I choose to agree on the second prediction which said that “the Karen win the war against their enemy and get their country. The only way that the Karen’s will get country is that the Karen must fight against their enemy and defeat them. In addition, if the NCA’s processes does not work well and the brutal Burmese military cannot approve all request, there is only way for us to fight against each other as our leader used to fight before we were born. In addition, more of Burmese military troop send to the ethnic area during NCA processes event if the statement says troops must be remove from the ethnic armed groups zone. In my opinion, we must be aware of the Burmese military activities during NCA processes as to protect ourselves from the poverty by the day the NCA is cancelled. As more troops from brutal Burmese military were send into Karen state, the Karen armed group also must gather itself as one to fight against the tremendous authoritarian Burmese military. Finally, I want to say that unity is very important for the Karen to gain the victory. In order not to reach the victory, our enemy use different strategy in both our revolutionaries and our civilians. They Myanmar government use to provide support for our civilians to separate them from us and stop supporting our revolution.
In conclusion, I want to say that as long as the Karen armed groups still stay separate from each other, the Karen will never achieve the victory of self-determination. In addition, the conflict will be continue unless the Karen armed groups cooperate each other as one armed group. As our enemy always be ready to destroy our territory, let us be prepare to against them anytime at once. In order to go to victory, let us gather together as one and fight against our brutal enemy which call Burmese authoritarian military and get our country which call KAW THOO LEI and build a peaceful country that full of love, joy, peace and equality.