November 19 |Author: Nan Paw Gay (KIC)
The spokesperson of an Italian non-government organization, Popolis, which has been working in Karen State since 2001, said it would only operate in areas under the control of the Karen National Union. In a statement to Karen News, Popili’s spokesperson (who requested that their name not be used) said.
“We have been worried about what has been happening in Karen State since the beginning of negotiations between KNU and Burmese Occupation Authorities. We believe that Karen Land belongs to Karen People, and that Burmese Occupation Authorities must prove their sincerity through concrete actions, first of all through a partial withdrawing of troops from Karen State.”
The Italian NGO noted that it is not their right to judge or to interfere in the Karen situation.
“It is our right to choose where our resources can be utilized for a more effective result. So, we have decided that our small contribution to the freedom and to the welfare of Karen People will be concentrated in areas where KNLA commanders show a resistive and honest behavior, following the Principles of Karen Revolution.”
According to the Popili statement it has been supporting Karen schools, health clinics and ‘rebuilding rural villages’ in Karen National Liberated Army controlled areas since 2001 and the NGO will also use their influence to encourage other NGOs to follow their move.
“We will try to convince them not to support “a business oriented peace process” that ignores and betrays the original goal of the glorious and long lasting Karen struggle. We are of course ready to help future economic development in Karen State, but only after security for the people and political issues will be settled, and only after a precise code of conduct for investing companies will be drawn by legitimated Karen Authorities.”
Popili’s statement warns that the Karen risk more than just their land in the rush to develop.
“The introduction of a new “philosophy” based on a consumer society point of view could quickly lead to a complete annihilation of the cultural, environmental and spiritual heritage of Karen People.”
According to the Popoli spokesperson the Italian organization “lobbies in favor of Karen self determination in front of Italian Government and Italian and European Institutions.”
The spokesperson for Popoli said in its statement that it wants to see peace in Burma but warns.
“We want to see peace…but not peace at any cost, because we believe that Karen People is the owner of Karen Land, and of its resources. And that only Karen legitimate representatives can decide the future of Karen People.”
The Popoli spokesperson said the NGO raises its funds through “private donations, raising funds in charity events like fundraising dinners, sports events, private parties, music events and concerts, selling artisans goods, and through a small percentage of taxes from Italian citizens who can decide to which charity organization donate to part of their taxation to.”