Karen National Union
The Department of Organising and Information is one of the 14 department of KNU’s governance structure. The department was formed at the formation of the Karen National Union. During the conflicts period, the department carried out the tasks as much as they can such as field consultation, raising awareness and dissemination of information. At present, Padoh Saw Hla Tun is Head of the department while also undertaking the role of Secretary (2) of the Karen National Union. In order to implement and achieved the political vision of the Karen National Union, it is vital for the department to organise the Karen people in unity and oneness. In that way, we can achieve the political goals. The department was formed at three levels, which are Central, District and Township levels with respective heads of department who are responsible to disseminate information regarding the activities of the department and the Karen National Union as a whole.
1. Maintaining a concrete organisation (KNU) and under the leadership of the KNU, members carry out their duties in unity.
2. Public sharing of the political culture and basic principles of the KNU.
3. Achieving political vision to be free from oppression by enhancing the publics political knowledge and unity.
Leaders at Central Level
1. Padoh Saw Hla Tun - Head of Department
2. Padoh Saw Kler Say - Deputy Head of Department
3. Padoh Naw Phaw Gay Khu - Secretary
4. Padoh Saw Gipsy - Joint Secretary
There are 6 branches within the department as follows:
1. Public Outreach Branch
2. Information Branch
3. Research and Documentation Branch
4. Karen Women Organisation (KWO)
5. Karen Youth Organisation (KYO)
6. Federation of Trade Union Kawthoolei (FTUK)
o Responsible for setting up procedures regarding raising awareness.
o The branch was formed in order to contribute the Karen revolution and Karen organisations such as Karen National Union (Mother Organisation), Karen Women Organisation, Karen Youth Organisation and FTUK.
o Issue recommendation letters for those who want to be members of the Union. o Responsible for consultation with members of the organisations.
o Responsible to publish and raise public awareness regarding the organisation.
o Organise training for future youth leaders.
o The branch publishes statements, announcements and books in order to promote the activities, political will and culture of KNU.
o Information searching and publishing.
o The branch is responsible to contact information sources and Central in order to provide information of Karen situation, rights and conflict information.
o Distribution of information regarding the KNU’s political principles.
Research and Documentation
o The branch does research, development and documentation regarding Karen activities.
o Important information and the hardships that Karen people face are identified, researched and documented.
o Providing training on research and documentation through the use of contemporary and updated technologies and supplies.
Karen Women Organisation (http://karenwomen.org)
The Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO) was formed in 1949. Saw Ba U Gyi organised the establishment of a Karen women's organisation, headed by his wife. Partly due to his death in 1950 and partly because of the lack of a central Karen headquarters at the time, the organisation never became active. It was not until August 1976 that it was decided, at a Karen National Union Congress, to re-establish the movement. Naw Blue Sein headed up KWO at the District level. In 1985 KWO reformed into central level and has a membership of over 60,000 women.
KWO is a community-based organisation of Karen women working in development and relief in the refugee camps on the Thai border and with IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and women inside Burma. KWO have expanded their focus from one of purely social welfare to try to encourage an awareness of Women’s Rights and to promote women’s participation in the community decision-making and political processes.
KWO Vision: A federal Burma where all communities have gender equality, the protection and promotion of indigenous people’s rights, human rights, and justice.
KWO Mission: KWO is an ethnic women’s community-based organisation that empowers women so they have capacity and power to solve their own problems and participate in decision-making that will affect their lives.
The Goals of KWO
o Ensure that KWO is an organisation which is strong, sustainable, effective and healthy.
o Karen women are free from any kind of oppression and enjoy an adequate standard of living.
o Karen women have gender equality in all spheres of life at all levels. o Karen women are encouraged to participate in political leadership at different levels and work together to achieve federalism.
o In our community, our people, especially women and children, can practice and enjoy full indigenous rights.
KWO aims to empower women through offering various capacity building trainings to teach skills, build confidence and create new opportunities so that women will be better able to solve problems. We are working hard to educate our communities and ourselves so that we can work more effectively and advocate for our struggle on the international stage. KWO believes that women’s contribution is an essential factor in the peace-building and national reconciliation processes of Burma.
Karen Youth Organisation (http://www.karenyouthktl.org)
In August 1976 KYO was formed in the districts and P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win was elected as KYO Chairperson for the districts. Later KYO was formed at Central Level on 23rd May 1989. For many years the KYO has performed valuable work on behalf of the Karen community, helping young Karen to develop their potential to work in and on behalf of the Karen community. There are currently 40,911 KYO members.
In March 2001, the organization was revived at the first KYO congress, new leaders elected and membership renewed. Its leadership has become younger and has included more young Karen women. In 2005 the second KYO congress was held and new leaders elected. KYO’s role in the community has become more important for the younger generation. It is structured to maximize youth’s participation in and ownership of our programmes. KYO currently has committees at four levels, they are Central, Districts, Townships and Villages.
We provide training in education and formation of youth, leadership and management, social protection, community development, community organisation, political education, and other relevant programs within the Karen community to ensure that local needs are met by local solutions. Our main goal is to empower and equip youth with skills that will enable them to respond to the ever-changing needs of the community.
Our vision is to empower and equip youth through democratic leadership and socio-economic development for a better world for establishing a place of justice and peace.
Our mission is the formation and education of young people, to play a vital role for a just and peaceful society.
Our aims and objectives are to empower young people to actively share their current and future livelihoods in order to achieve the targets of development. E.g. environmentally sustainable; politically and economically accessible and socially just by:
• Helping today's youth in becoming democratic national leaders.
• Educating the youths about their responsibilities.
• Raising the living standard of the youths by improving their physical and mental power.
• Maintaining, upgrading, and encouraging participation in the various cultures of the ethnic nationalities within Burma, while promoting fellowship and cross-cultural exchange.
• Supporting the achievement of unity among the different ethnic nationalities, which are presently being oppressed.
• Establishing democracy throughout the country while promoting the concepts of a Federal Union.
Federation of Trade Unions for Kawthoolei (FTUK)
Federation of Trade Unions Kawthoolei (Karen) is an independent democratic trade union formed in October 7, 1998 and has been working for labour rights and the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma for over 10 years. It has three affiliated unions such as Education Workers Union (KEWU), Health Workers Union (KHWU) and Agricultural Workers Union (KAWU) and has over 10,000 members. FTUK has its objectives to safeguard workers’ rights; promoting solidarity among workers, work for social security, up-grading the skills of workers and to be assistance to the restoration of human rights and democracy in the Union of Burma. FTUK has been working in the community for organising and educating members about trade unions and democracy.