“We plan to protect the people in the areas we control as much as possible from the increasing human rights violations committed by the military council.” – Padoh Saw Kler Say (Spokesperson, KNU)

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An interview with KNU spokesperson Padoh Saw Kler Say

In this interview with Karen Information Center, Padoh Saw Kler Say, the spokesperson of the Karen National Union (KNU), talked about the future plans, current activities, and some decisions made after the 17th KNU Congress.

Q – Can you tell us about the current activities of the KNU after the congress?

A – After the congress, there were some changes in the departments. So there have been discussions about that. We’re also discussing who should develop the departments. And we’re also making other necessary preparations.

Q – Did you have different challenges in holding the 17th congress than in previous ones?

A – This congress presented us with greater challenges than the previous ones. We have already said a lot about that. We did our best to hold the 17th congress taking into account the security situation, the external political situation, and Covid-19. We held the congress in three stages. The first and second stages were regional meetings. The third stage was held online due to the security situation and difficult transportation.

Q – One of the decisions of the congress was to establish Kawthoolei National College. What were the reasons behind the decision to establish the college and what stage is the college at?

A – We decided to establish Kawthoolei College because we need to improve our educational standards and because there is a need. The reason for this decision is that we don’t want the role of Karen people to fade away and we want to further improve their lives by improving education. We have been planning this for a long time. And it’s been a few years since we introduced junior colleges in the respective districts. From there, we want to move forward to Kawthoolei National College. Since we have also fulfilled the educational needs of the Karen people before, we believe it’s now time to move up to the national college level.

Q – Does the dissolution of the Alliance Affairs and Organization Departments by congress mean that these activities are no longer necessary?

A – They are no longer called departments because they’re directly related to politics. It was decided to continue these activities by forming a special committee instead.

Q – We have learned that congress has decided that chairs at the central, district and township levels will not be allowed to serve two consecutive four-year terms. Is there a reason for this change?

A – The main reason for this decision is the idea that a person shouldn’t always be in that role and position.

Q – The congress’s statement mentioned that a team has been formed to investigate criminal businesses. Have the investigations started yet?

A – We’re still preparing for this matter. To be precise, we’ll do it after the meeting of the Central Committee after the 17th Congress.

Q – How will the KNU bring about transparent change by listening to the voices of the people?

A – We have always listened to the voices of the people. We always have to listen to people’s voices because there are different social strata. If some people want to discuss with us, we have to listen and then act accordingly. So we plan to do what needs to be done by taking a close look at the diverse masses with their different ideas.

Q – People are satisfied when they see points 5 and 6 of the statement, which say that the organization will cooperate with the forces of the revolution against the military council. What else would you like to say to the public about this?

A – We don’t have anything special to say about the fact that people are happy to hear this. First of all, thank you very much for that. We’re open to cooperation and constructive criticism is welcome.

Q – What actions does the KNU plan to take against the military council that is committing human rights violations and mass killings in KNU-controlled areas?

A – We plan to protect the people in the areas we control as much as possible from the increasing human rights violations committed by the military council. We’re also collecting data and evidence on these human rights violations and plan to present it to and discuss it with the relevant organizations.

Q – Please tell us if you have any plans to help people affected by the armed conflict between the Myanmar army and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)?

A – We have recently been talking to relevant organizations and countries about how we can help people affected by the war. For example, we have asked some ASEAN countries to offer us humanitarian assistance. We have also asked some international organizations like NGOs for this kind of help.

Q – As a KNU spokesperson, please tell us your personal opinion about the changes that can be expected from the 17th KNU congress.

A – Among those present at the 17th congress were many young men and middle-aged men. I personally believe that there will be more transparency in the future and that our future projects can be implemented more effectively.

Sent by KIC.

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