Karenni Youth Say Meeting With State Counsellor Both Satisfies and Disappoints

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Activists who participated in a meeting with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Loikaw, Karenni State this week said that they left the exchange with mixed feelings.

Seven youth met Aung San Suu Kyi at the state government’s hall on the afternoon of January 15. She also attended the 68th commemoration of Karenni State Day on the same day.

They discussed current lawsuits brought against Karenni farmers by the military, a controversial statue of Aung San Suu Kyi’s father Gen Aung San, and the youths’ six-point demands for change. These include: the establishment of a youth center in Karenni State, state government assistance to ethnic Kayah, Kayan and Kayaw youth, job creation for youth, the withdrawal of local administration order Article 88, and a review of the youth policy.

Karenni youth Khu Persakwar Leh was among those in the meeting. He said that he did not agree with the State Counsellor’s take on the discussion around the Gen Aung San statue and the youths’ six demands.

“We were satisfied with the discussion about the issue of the farmers, but we weren’t satisfied with the discussion about the statue and the youth issues,” Khu Persakwar Leh told Kantarawaddy Times.

According to those in the meeting, Aung San Suu Kyi said that since Gen Aung San was her late father and a family member, she did not want to address the dispute around the statue of him in the Karenni State capital. She instead directed the youth to further discuss it with Union-level ministers.

Chairperson of the Karenni State Farmer’s Union Khu Tu Reh said that he had expectations after the youth meeting with the State Counsellor that action could be taken regarding the army’s prosecution of farmers.

The Burma Army has brought charges under five criminal acts against 41 Karenni farmers, 11 of whom are currently in prison. The charges are related to the farmers attempting to reclaim land that the military seized.

“When I talked about this issue, they say that they are really upset about it. I requested that they have sympathy and mercy for these farmers. They said that they would help. Regarding the farmer issue, I think we can expect something from them,” Khu Tu Reh said of the government delegation in Wednesday’s meeting, which included the State Counsellor, Union ministers, the Karenni State chief minister and state government officials.

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