The Karen National Union met with refugees and representatives of civil society organizations in Mae La refugee camp on the Thai Burma border to discuss and explain its ongoing peace building process with the Burma government. The meeting took place on Thursday, August 29 and came on the back of rumors circulating throughout the refugee population that there were plans to send them back to Burma.
Anxiety among refugees has been high since the KNU signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burma government in 2012, a recent survey by Thai authorities to gauge where refugees wanted to be sent and the acceptance by the international community of the Burma Government.
Pdaoh Saw Hla Tun, an organizer of the meeting at Mae La told Karen News that it is important Karen people are informed about the peace process.
“Although the KNU and the Burma government are working on the current implementation of the peace building process, it also indirectly relates to everyone. Our purpose for holding the meeting is to let people and organizations know about its progress.”
Padoh Saw Hla Tun said since the KNU and the Burma government signed the ceasefire agreement there have been numerous issues including land confiscation, economic development projects and rumors about refugee repatriation were causing uncertainty amongst Karen.
Padoh Saw Hla Tun said that a survey being conducted in refugee camps had also added to refugees’ anxiety. Padoh Saw Hla Tun said that in order to ease refugee anxiety and to keep the peace process transparent, it was important to hold these meetings to discuss the issues of concern with the refugee populations.
The Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People discussed the current situation of the 400,000 Internally Displaced People in southeastern Burma.
Speaking at the meeting, Saw Taw Ni, the secretary of CDIKP said that displaced people should be a priority when plans are being made to return and reintegrate people back to Burma.
“Taking into account the current political situation, we need to be prepare and have arrangements prioritized, first for the internally displaced communities rather than refugees in the camps. Without preparing for IDP reintegration or arranging for their housing first, will make it impossible to return or resettle refugees.”
The Mae La meeting included a session for questions and answers or comments where attendees raised questions or made their comments to the KNU representatives.
Over 250 individuals and representatives of civil society organizations attended the meeting. The KNU delegation include Padoh Saw Dot Lay Mu – head of KNU Agriculture Department, Padoh Saw Hla Tun – Central Organizing and Information Department, Padoh Saw Ba Tun – secretary of Forestry Department and Central Economic Committee, Padoh Eh Klu Say and Padoh Saw Lay Say.