Saw Ba U Gyi Three Strategies 


 

Ehthemoo Po

Burma was colonized by the British in the early 19th century. It remained a colony until the end of World War two. During the war, Japan invaded Burma and recruited the help of Burma's largest ethnic group -- the Burmese. The British found allies in Burma's second largest ethnic group -- the Karen. While the British had ensured the Karen their own land once the war had ended, tragically it never came to pass. The British ended up winning the war, driving out the Japanese forces -- but in 1948, instead of giving the Karen people independence and their own land they had been promised, the British left the country entirely over to the Burmese -- leaving it up to them to create a political infrastructure. None of the other ethnic groups were ever recognized politically, and the Burmese looked to take over their land by any means necessary. This began the world’s longest running civil war. 
My thoughts are one, the Burmese and Karen people have been on the opposing side since the beginning of time. They were fighting against each other in a war -- this caused bad blood between each other. After the British left the country entirely over to the Burmese, this gave them an advantage, an opportunity to disregard and kill any other ethnic group who were not Burmese. This was already a poorly structured way to rule a country. Sadly, the oppression continues to this day. 
Fortunately a wit minded, courageous man who turned his back on wealth and career,  persevered through the struggles and continued to rebelle, so his people, the Karen people, could finally gain their independence, and have a land of their own to call home. This leader whom we know till this day is Saw Ba U Gyi. He was a smart man who came from a wealthy family. Saw Ba U Gyi earned his degree from Rangoon University in 1925, then went to London to later on become a lawyer. Two years later he was called to the English Bar and then returned to Burma where he began his fight to help his people.  Saw Ba U Gyi, founder of the Karen National Union and modern Karen armed revolution, once told Karen leaders that there are three ways for the Karen struggle for freedom and autonomy to succeed; armed struggle, political dialogue and a negotiated settlement with the Burmese government; and international intervention and arrangement on the Karen people’s behalf. 
First and foremost, let's begin with the definition of armed struggle -- “noun. Political conflict involving weapons; (now especially) irregular, often protracted hostilities in which a rebel or nationalist group uses arms in an attempt to gain political rights or overthrow an existing government or regime.” What are the advantages and disadvantages of war? The advantages are peace, love, and money. The disadvantages are death, debt, and sadness. All of these things can happen as a result of war. We can connect previous wars from the past to today to figure out the tactics used to have made one side victorious. If war were to never exist, life today would be very different. There would be no America. Honestly would countries even exist? The pro in war is if you win, you get the victory to do anything that you want.  In conclusion, if we weigh out the factors of having armed struggle, if the Karen people were to go to war with the Burmese regime and win, then we can claim our own land. But if we lose the war, consequences are deadly.  War should be avoided in any way possible. The rewards can be great but the loss is too great. The Burmese militia has 10X better equipment, supplies, and soldiers than the Karen Army. Let’s just say we lose the war -- what have we gained? There are other ways to solve this issue to get our freedom. Don't get me wrong though, when an enemy attacks and kills our people, by any means we should do the same. To the public, nothing seems to be working; no strategy seems to be successful. And the idea of embracing the wide range of insurgent forces in Burma is a deeply difficult sell. 
Secondly, there should at least be efforts to explore the potential of talks. Making peaceful negotiations sounds like the best and humane way to settle about these problems… yes if only people could keep their word and promises.  Many have real concerns about the process and its implications, a negotiated peace has been the end of every war in modern history. It has been the end-game to every conflict and the reason for lasting peace. It has also often been a deeply flawed process and, with the Burmese military sitting on the opposite side of the table you can bet things won’t go smoothly. Getting to negotiation is a major process in itself, that planning and “confidence building” would take years. “A rush to negotiations would be self-defeating. The biggest obstacle to talks is mistrust - and to overcome that will inevitably take time,``''Confidence-building between warring parties can take years. Spoilers on all sides - whether they are within the Burmese government, political factions, the insurgency, or the region - may try to disrupt the process. If anything, we are seeing an intensification and spread of the conflict - which underscores the difficulty of achieving constructive talks.” In history, the British promised the Karen their own land once the war was over. Sadly this has never come to pass because look at where we are now. Also, making peaceful negotiation can be misleading and false, because you never truly know someone's true intentions. They can easily turn their backs against us. Setting aside how time consuming peaceful negotiations are, it is a peaceful way to fight for our freedom and land. 
Last but not least, when it comes to the ideals of intervention, preserving life has always remained an essential part of justifications with respect to intervention. It should be the duty of states to intercede in the name of oppressed populations. This is equal to more traditional and outdated defence issues such as arms and territory. When intervening ….. Some folks would bring up humanitarian intervention being justified for both sides. In other words, if a country fails to provide its citizens the basic "capabilities," such as the capability to live a healthy life, then outside intervention is justified. Some critics contend that modern philosophical arguments for humanitarian aid fail to recognize the flaws of current international law itself. Therefore would outside countries be willing to help even with their own issues within their countries themselves? Another thing to keep in mind is with the ideals of intervention, will it  just create more chaos and disaster? Including more states that may get involved and it turns into a mass war? On the other hand, let me make an analogy here; this ongoing situation reminds me of the “What they eat in heaven story.” In Hell there is a large banquet table filled with lots of food -- there is plenty of food to go around for everyone. Each person has a really long spoon that can reach the food. There is only one problem. The people in Hell are starving. Meanwhile in Heaven,  there is a large banquet table filled with lots of food -- there is plenty of food to go around for everyone. Each person has a really long spoon that can reach the food. The only exception here is that everyone in Heaven is happy and full. Why? The reason is, the people in Heaven are feeding each other. The moral of this story reminds me of a lot of real world issues. Although the moral of the story is important, it is not an easy task, solely because of human nature. We must think of others before thinking of ourselves. When we help one another, we know there is trust to have each other's backs. 
Saw Ba U Gyis three ways for the Karen struggle for freedom and autonomy to succeed; armed struggle, political dialogue and a negotiated settlement with the Burmese government; and international intervention and arrangement on the Karen people’s behalf -- According to my research and logic, the second one is the best one to choose from -- political dialogue and a negotiated settlement with the Burmese government. 
Negotiating gives you mutual understanding that results in a long-term relationship goal. Negotiating will take time -- time to come up with a statement that will be fair and just. Negotiating will help us get to know the Burmese military and government more. Negotiating will enhance our listening skills. To settle a problem, we must listen attentively and carefully. Doing this, you will be able to know more about the opposing side. Peaceful negotiations will work only if you put in the effort -- in other words, one person on the Karen side will not be able to do this alone. We need teamwork and collaboration. The Karen people must unite. Hatred for each other will only make matters worse. We must keep our emotions in check. There are six stages of negotiation, according to Troy Media. The first stage is “orientation and fact-finding.” we must know who we’re dealing with before we make an actual negotiation. Research. Find out their intentions behind this. The second stage is “resistance.” we know in a negotiation it will not flow smoothly the way we want it because it’s just not that easy. When negotiating we must expect it but persist. We must deal with it. The third step is “reformulation of strategies.” here is where we think outside of the box and have a plan B. This step is a place where we can reevaluate where everything is going. The fourth step is “hard bargaining and decision making.” What will they accept or deny? This is the time to come up with options for mutual gain. The fifth step is “agreement.” This is where complex details are sorted out and questions are answered. From everyone. Not just government officials. Everyone. Last but definitely not least, we must follow up on the negotiation. Is everyone abiding by the rules? Are there any changes to be made? This last step will take a long time. But there will be one day where we eventually reach it. This negotiation will settle the violent acts. This negotiation could involve help from allies. I chose this second advice from Saw Ba U Gyi because I think the third one can connect with this one (international intervention). 
Despite the issues in the world today, oppression in Burma can not be forgotten and set aside. We must spark something that will stay alive. We must begin and continue to push on to get where we need to be -- to finish what Saw Ba U Gyi had in mind. 
I would like to finish this essay off with a quote from Saw Ba U Gyi -- “In history, we find that in spite of various difficulties and hardship, all the just revolutions when led by perseverance and courage eventually triumph without exception. I firmly believe that the just revolution of the Karen people shall  be victorious eventually, in spite of all the hardships and difficulties.” 

 His legacy will live on and remain in our hearts forever. It is now up to the new generation to continue to fight for our freedom. 
 

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