Saturday, Sep 14, 2002
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This Day That Age
On September 12, the Burma Government passed a Legislation demarcating the boundaries of the separate State for which the Karen hill tribes had been fighting for four years. The Karens numbering about two million were expected to have their own State as soon as the entire area could be cleared of rebel elements. Excerpts from the Editorial: "From the time she became independent of Britain, Burma had had to face a series of internal upheavals and the Government in Rangoon have not been able to exercise effective control over all the country. Both the Communists and the Karens have their own armed forces and, though two years ago the Government forces were able to recover most of the major towns held by the insurgents, it still seems as if even Rangoon is within the orbit of rebel raids; we hear now and again, for instance, of that city's water supply being cut off by the rebels. While continuing their fight against Communist forces, the Government have shown a willingness to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Karens.
"From the time it became evident that the Communists had infiltrated into the regular armed forces, the Burmese Government had to rely increasingly on units made up of Karens and other frontier tribes. It was only a matter of time before the Karen National Defence Organisation became the militant arm of the Karen National Union. Some Britishers sympathised with this separatist movement, but soon found that the Karens were not as anti-Communist as they hoped they would be. By 1949 regular fighting between the Karens and the Government forces had begun, despite an offer from Rangoon to concede the "principle" of a Karen State. The British Government fortunately came forward with an offer to supply arms to the Rangoon Government; otherwise the Karens might have been even more successful.
``Burma has always resented assistance from abroad which seemed linked up with conditions interfering with Burmese independence of action. However, British influence might have been working quietly to bring about a settlement of the Karen issue... It now remains to be seen whether the present Rangoon demarcation will be acceptable to the rebels."
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