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Home > Main Library > Non-Burman and non-Buddhist groups > Ethnic groups in Burma (cultural, political) > Single Groups > Karen (cultural, historical, political) > Karen National Union (KNU)

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Karen National Union (KNU)

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Karen National Union
Description/subject: Our Policies: "The Burmese military dictatorship spreads lies and misinformation about the KNU. We don’t recruit child soldiers, we don’t attack civilians and we are not trying to break up Burma. Read the truth about our policies here..."...Objectives: "The KNU Mission Statement is to establish a genuine Federal Union in cooperation with all the Karen and all the ethnic peoples in the country for harmony, peace, stability and prosperity for all. Read more here..."...Our Fallen Heroes: "Many brave Karen have given their lives in our struggle for freeedom. Find out more about them here..."...Our Leaders: "KNU leaders are democratically elected. Find out more here..."...Structure: "The KNU has a democratic structure, with regular elections. We also provide local services and administration in Karen State. Find out more about our structure and our democracy here..."...KNU History: "The Karen National Union is the leading political organisation representing the aspirations of the Karen people. The KNU was founded in 1947, its predecessor organisations date back to 1881..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen National Union
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 March 2011


Title: KIC News
Description/subject: Substantialsite... News, photos, articles, links, "Karen Newsletter" - archive
Language: Burmese
Source/publisher: Karen Information Center (KIC)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 March 2011


Title: KNU Web-page
Description/subject: Aims, statements, history etc. Last updated 1998
Language: English
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The Official Website of the Karen National Union (KNU)
Description/subject: Home | About us | Departments | Peace Process | Statements | Human Rights | Karen Unity | Contact...Departments: Agriculture Department; Alliance Affairs Department; Breeding & Fishery Department; Defense Department; Education & Culture Department; Finance & Revenue Department; Foreign Affairs Department; Forestry Department; Health & Welfare Department; Interior & Religious Department; Organising & Information Department; Justice Department; Mining Department; Transportation & Communication Department.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen National Union (KNU)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 22 September 2013


Individual Documents

Title: Karen Major General Nerdah Bo Mya: ‘The Government Is Playing the Game’
Date of publication: 07 April 2015
Description/subject: "Nerdah Bo Mya is a Major General and the Chief of Staff of the Karen National Defence Organization (KNDO), which was founded in 1947 to protect the Karen people and territory, and is under its mother organisation Karen National Union (KNU). Nerdah Bo Mya, 48, was born near Manerplaw—the former headquarters of the KNU as well as other ethnic nationalities and the pro–democracy movement—as the son of the late General Bo Mya who was the President of the KNU from 1976 to 2000. After being educated in Thailand and in the US, where Nerdah Bo Mya spent six years studying a Liberal Arts degree at a university in California, the young graduate turned away from a future in the US and soon returned to the Thailand-Burma border. For over 20 years, he has fought for “freedom, democracy, and humanity,” against what is undoubtedly one of the most brutal military regimes in the world. This dedicated and empathetic “rebel” leader emphasizes that it is not just the Karen people but a whole nation of 60 million people who are still suffering and need to be freed. Although the international community has enjoyed what some call a honeymoon with the Burmese government since the country started opening up in 2011, according to Nerdah Bo Mya, the government is still not showing signs of sincerity in peace talks nor genuine willingness to change. “The government is playing the game,” he says, and the international community too often indirectly participating in ongoing atrocities. In this exclusive interview with Burma Link, Nerdah Bo Mya talks about the struggle, the current state of the ceasefire and the peace process, the role of the international community, and how to build a prosperous Burma for the future generations."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Link
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 March 2016


Title: Listening to Voices: Myanmar’s Foot Soldiers Speak
Date of publication: April 2014
Description/subject: "Soldiers explained that mutual respect between all parties is needed for the peace process to be successful. Mutual respect was often mentioned in relation to the need for adherence to ceasefire agreements, reports of breaches to ceasefire agreements and concerns about the sincerity of the peace process. Generally, foot soldiers identified the need for all parties to respect the terms and conditions of agreements equally. Soldiers expressed a desire to create stronger links between what is discussed and agreed upon in peace/ceasefire agreements and implementation. Specific points of contention included soldiers carrying arms outside of their demarcated territory when agreements restricted this movement. Soldiers voiced a need for Tatmadaw soldiers to ask permission before entering their territory. One KNU soldier expressed: “Tatmadaw soldiers bring arms when they come into our regions. Don’t we have the right to hold arms? We follow the rules”..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS)
Format/size: pdf (746K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.centrepeaceconflictstudies.org/publications/browse/
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/CPCS-2014-04-Listening_to_Voices-Myanmar_Foot-Soldiers-Speak-en....
Date of entry/update: 27 September 2015


Title: The Dynamics of Karen National Union Political and Military Development: Reflecting the Shifting Landscape
Date of publication: 2010
Description/subject: Abstract: "This thesis investigates the themes and society of displaced Karen identity on the border between Burma and Thailand. The impact of the authoritarian military rule in Burma cannot be underestimated. The government exercises tremendous power to shape the social and economic environment. They determine whether a civil-society is prosperous and functions in an appropriate manner. Governments are also responsible for societal support and protection of all its populace. The population of Burma is essentially isolated from the global society through regime censorship and restrictions. The inter-linking spiral of humanitarian emergencies and continued to escalate, these include refugee, internally displaced people, the spread of preventable diseases and the illicit narcotic production. Recently, the Western governments had solidified their position towards the military junta resulting in a stalemate of diplomatic interaction, with ultimately the people of Burma being the victims of such actions. Current realities in the global sphere present the powerful Western Nations an opportunity for a change in perspective. US policy recommendations include a greater dialogue with the junta and the outcome of the election is seen as crucial to fostering better relation. It is imperative that long-essential reforms are undertaken if Burma if is to achieve lasting peace. The international community must develop coherent and focused policies towards Burma and make conflict resolution a priority. Humanitarian aid and displaced refugee support will play a vital role, and in the 21st Century regional dimensions must be addressed. The challenges of nation-state building must be made in conjunction with political, humanitarian, and economic issues."
Language: English
Source/publisher: University of Manchester (thesis submitted in 2010)
Subscribe: Peter James Bjorklund
Format/size: pdf (374K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2013


Title: Mahn Sha: The Compassionate Revolutionary (Obituary)
Date of publication: March 2008
Description/subject: "When news of the assassination of the Karen leader Mahn Sha broke, I was reminded of the advice he had once given me: “Use your journalistic skill to help poor people.” Two years ago, I visited Mahn Sha at his office in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burmese border. In our conversation, his left-wing enthusiasm was evident. It was an enthusiasm that he wanted to pass on to a younger generation—“We want more young people who will work for the sake of their country and people,” he told me..."
Author/creator: Violet Cho
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 16, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 April 2008


Title: Die Karen im Strudel der Unabhängigkeit
Date of publication: 03 July 2007
Description/subject: Angesichts des britischen Verrats gründet der Karen Anwalt Saw Ba U Gyi am 5. Februar 1947 als ersten Schritt zur Selbsthilfe mit 700 Karen Delegierten aus allen Landesteilen die Karen National Union, KNU. Als politische Organisation soll sie den Einfluss seines Volkes hinsichtlich der Verhandlungen zur Unabhängigkeit Burma’s sicherstellen. Bereits im November ‘46 ist die mächtige kommunistische Partei aus der geeinten Front der Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, AFPFL Thakin Aung San’s ausgeschlossen worden. Aung San; Panglong Agreement; The Karen during independence
Language: German, Deutsch
Source/publisher: Burma Riders
Date of entry/update: 21 August 2007


Title: A House Divided
Date of publication: March 2007
Description/subject: Infighting and unsanctioned peace overtures with Burma’s ruling regime have left many wondering about the fate of the KNU, Burma’s oldest ethnic opposition group... "As its 60th year of armed insurrection approaches, the Karen National Union is spending more of its time o­n internal skirmishes than in armed rebellion against its historic foe, Burma’s ruling military government..."
Author/creator: Shah Paung
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 15, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 May 2008


Title: Rethinking KNU Principles
Date of publication: March 2007
Description/subject: “Until the Karen go to Rangoon and surrender, the Karen revolution will never disappear”——Ba U Gyi... "Less than a month before he was killed in a Burmese army ambush in August 1950, Ba U Gyi, a former colonial-era Burmese cabinet minister and then leader of the Karen resistance, gave the above admonition to a gathering of Karen leaders from Papun District. As the father of the Karen liberation movement, Ba U Gyi outlined four basic tenets of the resistance, which he urged his fighters and followers to adhere to resolutely. He said: “Surrender is out of the question;” “We shall retain our arms;” “Recognition of Karen State must be complete;” and “We shall decide our own political destiny.” The Karen National Union, the mainstream Karen resistance group o­nce led by Ba U Gyi, adopted these maxims as the guiding principles of their fight for autonomy from the Burman-dominated military and government..."
Author/creator: Aung Naing Oo
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 15, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 May 2008


Title: The Karens and their Struggle for Freedom
Date of publication: August 2006
Description/subject: Originally published as ‘The Karens and their Struggle For Freedom’ in 1991 by the Karen National Union Reprinted under the same title by the KNU in July 1992, 18 pages, and in 1997 to include Peace talks in 1996/7, 42 pages. This version reprinted and updated with a new foreword, Chronology, colour illustrations, and images in 2006 by the Karen History and Culture Preservation Society...PREFACE (To the original Edition): "We, the Karens of Burma, have been cornered into fighting against the ruling Burmese Governments for the past fifty years. Holding the reins of all organs of the state, and in full control of the press radio, and television, the successive ruling Burmese Governments from U Nu’s AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League) to the present Military Junta headed by General Than Shwe and his State Peace and Development Council ( SPDC ), have always painted us as black as they can. They have branded us insurgents, war-mongers, a handful of border smugglers, black-and stooges of both the communists and the imperialists. Even so, to the extent of our ability we have always tried to refute the nefarious one-sided Burman propaganda of false accusations and make the true facts of our cause known to the world. In fighting against the ruling Burmese Government, we are not being motivate by narrow nationalism, nor by ill-will towards the Burmese Government or the Burman people. Our struggle was not instigated neither by the capitalist world nor by the communists, as some have falsely accused us. It has an originality completely of its own. Throughout history, the Burman have been practicing annihilation, absorption and assimilation ( 3 A’s) against the Karens and they are still doing so today. In short, they are waging a genocidal war against us. Thus we have been forced to fight for our very existence and survival. In this document we venture to present a concise outline of the Karens’ struggle for freedom; the Karen case, which we consider just, righteous and noble. We hope that through it, the world may come to know the true situation of the Karens, a forgotten people who continue to fight for our freedom intensively, single handedly and without aid of any kind from anyone..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen History and Culture Preservation Society (KHCPS)
Format/size: pdf (1.5MB)
Date of entry/update: 22 August 2006


Title: The Longest Fight
Date of publication: March 2006
Description/subject: "After 57 years of fighting for independence from the Burmese, the Karen National Union is beset by internal divisions, a lack of resources and an aging leadership..."
Author/creator: Shah Paung and Harry Priestley
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006


Title: A Soldier's Duty
Date of publication: November 2005
Description/subject: The troops of KNLA Battalion 101 stick to their guns... "...The KNU is one of Burma’s oldest and strongest armed ethnic opposition groups, and it has waged war with successive administrations of the Burmese government since 1949. Government troops overran KNU headquarters at Manerplaw in 1995, and since that time the group has lost ground in its fight for greater regional autonomy. In the last decade, other political developments have weakened the KNU. Neighboring Thailand had for many years adopted a policy of tacit collaboration with the Karen and other armed ethnic minority groups along the Thai-Burma border, hoping that they would establish a buffer zone against any encroachment by Burmese forces. This policy has changed in recent years as Thailand seeks to strengthen its economic and political ties with Rangoon. Despite more than a half century of armed conflict, the KNU has since 1995 made several efforts to open diplomatic lines of communication with Burma’s ruling junta to negotiate an equitable ceasefire agreement. In 2004, then deputy chairman Gen Bo Mya flew to Rangoon to hold peace talks with ex-prime minister Gen Khin Nyunt. The meeting—backed by some of Thailand’s top military and business leaders—produced a “gentleman’s agreement” to end hostilities in Karen State. Khin Nyunt’s subsequent ouster later in the year, however, ended any momentum towards an official ceasefire..."
Author/creator: Shah Paung
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 11
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006


Title: Myanmar: Militärregime geht auf Schmusekurs
Date of publication: 22 January 2004
Description/subject: Rangun hofiert Karen-Kommandeur. Verhandlungen mit Rebellen über Waffenruhe. cease fire talks with karen rebells.
Author/creator: Thomas Berger
Language: Deutsch, German
Source/publisher: AG Friedensforschung an der Uni Kassel
Format/size: html (6,3k)
Date of entry/update: 01 March 2005


Title: Determined Resistance: An Interview with Gen Bo Mya
Date of publication: October 2003
Description/subject: "After almost 55 years of resistance, the Karen National Union (KNU) is Southeast Asia’s oldest insurgent group. The Irrawaddy spoke to deputy chairman of the KNU, Gen Saw Bo Mya, 76, about Rangoon’s latest political gestures and the future of the Karen struggle..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol 11, No. 8
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 06 December 2003


Title: Bo Mya: In His Own Words
Date of publication: June 2002
Description/subject: "The recently published memoirs of former Karen leader Gen Bo Mya offer a glimpse into the inner workings of Burma's longest-running insurgent struggle..."
Author/creator: Aung Zaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 10, No. 5, June 2002
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The KNU: To Cease Fire, or Not to Cease Fire?
Date of publication: March 2002
Description/subject: "After more than half a century of struggle and nearly a decade of major setbacks, the Karen National Union remains defiant in the face of calls to lay down its arms. By Aung Zaw After 53 years of resistance against Rangoon, the aging leadership of the Karen National Union (KNU) is nothing if not defiant. Arguably weaker now than at any other point in its half-century-long struggle, the KNU and its military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), have faced numerous setbacks in the past decade. But asked about the prospects of the KNU entering the dubious embrace of Rangoon’s "legal fold", Padoh Mahn Sha, the KNU’s general secretary, did not mince words: "Surrender is out of the question," he told The Irrawaddy recently..."
Author/creator: Aung Zaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 10, No. 2
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The New Face of the KNU
Date of publication: February 2000
Description/subject: The KNU leadership reshuffle looks to solidify internal support as well as present a more refined view to the rest of the world, report Aung Zaw and Moe Gyo.
Author/creator: Aung Zaw and Moe Gyo
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 8. No. 2
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003