Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Speech as KNU Representative in the UK on Global Day of Action in London - By Bwa Bwa Phan

March 9th 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and supporters, thank you for coming to today’s global day of action. We are not here to criticise the British Government, we are here to ask for their support to our cause. As you all know, Karen civilians are being attacked in eastern Burma by the Burmese Military Junta. This fact is well documented by independent human rights groups. The United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued an `expression of concern’ regarding the new attacks on the Karen people. The Karen National Union (KNU) does not believe that this alone is an adequate response.
We need the attacks to stop.

Over the years there have been many `expressions of concerns’ by the General Secretary and Presidential Security council statements. However, none of them have halted the attacks or persuaded the military Junta to enter into genuine dialogue, with the democratic forces in Burma. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma has described the attacks on ethnic peoples in eastern Burma as being a breach of the Geneva Convention, but still the attacks go on.

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) is the only protection Karen civilians have from the Junta’s attacks. Without the KNLA, no humanitarian aid would be able to reach Internally Displaced People, who are in hiding. Since the regime is blocking aid reaching people who are hiding in the jungle, cross-aid is the only way to provide food, medicine and shelter to those on the run from the new attacks. Unlike the dictatorship, the KNU agree to meet all requirements regarding aid delivery. The KNU would like to make it very clear to the world, we have repeatedly tried to enter into dialogue for a peaceful resolution of the problems in Burma and are ready for any future talks. But the Military Junta demands what amounts to a total and unconditional surrender.

Who will then protect the Karen civilians, the UN?

The UN Special Rapporteur often has to wait for weeks to get a visa just to enter Burma, at times they have not been allowed to talk to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or the 2100 political prisoners that are held unjustly and in appalling conditions. What hope is there of UN protection for vulnerable Karen civilians in the jungle. The reality is none.

If the attacks by the Junta are to stop we need real pressure by the UN. We need genuine dialogue with all stake holders, for national reconciliation and peace. We have made these facts plain in many letters to the UN and governments but they have gone unheard.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is why we are here today. If our letters go unheard, then our voices should not.

The attacks on Karen civilians in eastern Burma must stop.

Thank you