Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


January 5, 2013

Please forward and post.

Dictator Watch has learned that the election at the recent KNU Congress was not free and fair. The top officers elected did not win a fair democratic vote. As is so common in this part of the world, votes were forced.

The actual ballots were also not counted according to established Congress procedures, by the election commission head, Pastor Robert Htwe. He then immediately burned the ballots, which both destroyed the evidence and prevented a recount.

It is no coincidence that the regime's new offensive against the Kachin was launched following its "victory" at the KNU Congress, whereby pro-appeasement leaders gained power.

The new leaders have the backing of business interests. This includes at the border, in Naypyidaw, and in Bangkok. Their ascension clearly will be good for them and their partners, although not for the Karen people.

The Karen people appreciate the semblance of peace that now exists in their homeland. However, they also recognize that the area is completely militarized by regime troops, and that the soldiers can launch new offensives, and once again burn villages and rape and kill villagers, at any time.

The General Secretary was formerly Chairman of Mergui-Tavoy District. Readers of KNU battle summaries over the years will recognize that there was almost no conflict in this district, which is the KNLA's 4th Brigade area, even though human rights abuses there were brutal and ongoing. The KNLA had been fighting everywhere else Karen people were oppressed: Why not in the 4th Brigade?

Some KNLA officers and their families in the Brigade reportedly have business deals with regime officials. They have apparently chosen to protect these interests, rather than the people.

Now, under the new leaders, it seems likely that this situation will extend to all Karen areas. The massive Tavoy project, which will be a disaster for the local people, will proceed. All other natural resources in Karen districts, including land for contract farming, will be exploited. Any KNLA units that do not fall in line with the group's policy, will be subjected to the same type of Burma Army offensives now directed against the Kachin. Indeed, there are already rumors of a new offensive against the 5th Brigade, whose troops for years have sacrificed to serve the Karen people.

Many believe that the 60+ year Karen Revolution is over, for now. Founding KNU President Saw Ba U Gyi enunciated four principles for the Revolution.

Surrender is out of the question.
The recognition of Karen State must be complete.
We shall retain our arms.
We shall decide our own political destiny.

The upper crust in the KNU, and businessmen in Burma and Thailand, will now decide the Karen people's destiny.

One can only imagine the handsome payoff the top KNU leaders received on their trip this week to meet President Thein Sein. When you betray an entire people - your people - your price must be exceedingly high.