KNU President's Address on 56th Anniversary of Martyrs' Day
(Aug. 17, 2006)
August 12, 2006
Dear All Karen Nationals, Officers and Men of the KNLA,
On the occasion of 56th Anniversary of Martyrs' Day, firstly, I would like to wish you all health, peace of mind, unity and fortitude during this time of the struggle for our freedom, because our enemy is always trying to eliminate us and our people, and split our organization. Hence, we must always be on the alert and be united in our collaborative effort.
There is an old Karen saying: "If we are united, we may bake stone to get it soft like taro and build a ladder to climb up to the sky." In the long years of our revolutionary struggle, we have gone through various kinds of difficulty and misery, but we remain alive today because of the protection and support given by our people. We do not receive any assistance from another country. Our people feed, help and protect us until they have to sacrifice their lives. Many of our women had to suffer the indignity of rape. We have no choice but to struggle on to free our people from tyranny and injustices. Another old Karen adage says, "The enemy's love is not even as good as your own people's hatred of you." If you look at peoples of advanced countries, you will see that they protect their own people and oppose the enemy with unity. They face death or life together. For that reason, their countries remain strong and their enemies cannot destroy them. Take example from the Second World War. As we are still in the stage of struggle to free ourselves from oppression, unity among us is the most important factor. If you are not united, how can you face the enemy? If we are united, victory shall be ours.
Another point is that we are not alone in the country we live in. As there are many nationalities, we have to establish a state constitution and political system in consonant with objective conditions. Accordingly, we, the Karen revolutionary resistance adopted the position that our country must be established as a Federal Union, at the Mawko national Congress held in 1956.
On account of this, we receive support, understanding and also acceptance from other groups. The main thing is we have to receive support and approval from all the nationalities and the democratic organizations. No other country can fulfill our aspirations for us. Only when we, and the entire people, are united in our thoughts and action, we will be able together to realize our goal. For that reason, in order for all of us to have equality, we have to build friendship, understanding and form alliances with other groups, agree to establish a genuine Federal Union, live together in it and accept democracy fully, with all the Member States having the rights to self-determination. We have to change the rule of military regime to a federal system of governance, based on democracy. Consequently, we have to form friendship with other nationalities and other democratic organizations for mutual understanding and support. We also have to be always careful that our activities do not weaken our own arrangements.
Wanting to be liberated from repression and domination, we, the Karen people, have organized ourselves in stages. In 1947, we formed the Karen National Union (KNU) and started the peaceful struggle for freedom and establishment of a Karen Land. Gradually, the political tension increased and the peaceful struggle of the Karen people was transformed into an armed struggle, at the beginning of 1949. However, as the question of the Karen people is a political one, the KNU leadership has always striven for resolving the Karen question politically. Since 1956, we have accepted democracy and also federalism, because they are in consonant with the objective conditions of the Karen people. Our administrative and organizational structures, as well as our procedures, are based on democratic principles and practices.
During the period of armed struggle for self-defense, we have to practice democratic centralism and collective leadership. Especially, in the areas of political activities, to eliminate weaknesses as far as possible, we have to practice collective leadership. On the other hand, as the SPDC generals practice dictatorial governance, they are not the same as we are. We have learned that the SPDC representatives do not want to discuss peace with our central leaders. As they want to deal only with the military establishment, it is against our principles and that is causing a lot of concern for us. Since the problem of the Karen people is a political one, the only correct way is to resolve the problem politically with the KNU central leaders. Otherwise, we are much concerned that the blood of our martyrs and comrades, who have shed their blood and sacrificed their lives, in the 56 years of our struggle, could become worthless. This is my call to the entire Karen people to be acutely wary of the peril. As my final advice, I would like to say, let us all be united in our thought, action and in our political stand.
Let us stand with unity, courage and determination until we gain our freedom. May all of you be well and free from all kinds of danger!
Saw Ba Thein Sein
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