Tuesday, May 13, 2014

KNU Official Wants Japan to Consult on any Development Planned for Karen State

A Karen National Union (KNU) official told a visiting Japanese parliamentarian that it’s crucial for KNU officials to be consulted and involved when the Japanese government plans development projects in Karen State.

Padoh Aung Win Shwe, head of the KNU Foreign Affairs Department, informed the visiting Japanese MP that Japan needs to involve not only the Burmese government, but also the KNU in any development projects planned for Karen State.

The meeting was held at the KNU’s Central Liaison Office in Hpa-An on April 30th, and Padoh Aung Win called on the Japanese MP, Mr. Michihiro Ishibashi from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, to take his message back to the Japanese government. Mr. Michihiro Ishibashi’s visit was designed to observe Japan’s aid programs in Myanmar.

Padoh Aung Win Shwe told Karen News that “In Karen State, the relevant agencies [for discussion] are not only government officials and the MPC [Myanmar Peace Center]. There are also local KNU officials and there are KNU central level officials. Therefore, we suggest them to also communicate, consult and cooperate with us if they want to implement any development projects in KNU areas. Then we can build more understanding between us.”
Mr. Michihiro Ishibashi said during the meeting that his trip to Karen State was intended to observe the activities of Japanese NGO’s who are providing aid in Karen State and meet with KNU officials to discuss future aid programs.

When interviewed by Karen News, Mr. Michihiro Ishibashi said: “I came here to observe the activities of Japanese NGO’s in Karen State and to…see which areas need to be assisted more. In addition, we also have more projects [planned] to support Karen State.”
Several Japanese organizations, including government-affiliated organizations such as JAICA, have been providing various forms of assistance to Karen State such as donating clothes, providing food rations, and developing the local infrastructure.

After a ceasefire was signed in January 2012 between the KNU and Myanmar’s government, a lot of international NGO’s have become active in Karen State—including Japan’s Nippon Foundation, which is also playing a major role in Myanmar’s peace process by funding and supporting the UNFC .
Officials from the KNU claim that many of the international actors in Karen State—in their rush to “do business” in Myanmar and curry favor with Naypyidaw—have failed to consult with the KNU, thereby creating a divide-and-rule atmosphere that could derail the fragile peace process.