Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Naw K---, October 2015


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Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Naw K---, October 2015

Published date:
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

This Interview with Naw K--- describes events occurring in K’Ser Doh Township, Mergui-Tavoy District, during October 2015, including Karen women’s roles, the 2012 preliminary ceasefire agreement, healthcare, and the 2015 general election.

  • Karen women who live in the local area usually stay at home to look after their children and do housework. After they get married they cannot earn a living independently.
  • Even after the 2012 preliminary ceasefire agreement local women villagers who live in K’Ser Doh Township do not feel that they are safe to travel alone between villages.
  • Naw K--- suggested to the local leaders that the Karen National Union (KNU) and Burma/Myanmar government should provide more healthcare services and healthcare awareness for local villagers.
  • Naw K--- decided not to vote in the 2015 general election because she did not feel that it was relevant to her and she was unsure as to which party she should vote for.


[1] KHRG trains community members in southeast Burma/Myanmar to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in southeast Burma/Myanmar, KHRG aims to make all field information received available on the KHRG website once it has been processed and translated, subject only to security considerations. For additional reports categorised by Type, Issue, Location and Year, please see the Related Readings component following each report on KHRG’s website.

[3] Naw is a S’gaw Karen female honorific title used before a person’s name.

[4] “Losing Ground: Land conflicts and collective action in eastern Myanmar,” KHRG, March 2013; “‘With only our voices, what can we do?’: Land confiscation and local response in southeast Myanmar,” KHRG, June 2015.

[5] The researcher is referring to KHRG’s 2016 thematic “Hidden Strengths, Hidden Struggles: Women’s perspectives from southeast Myanmar,” August 2016.

[6] The KHRG community member is referring to the preliminary ceasefire agreement that was signed on January 12th 2012 between the KNU and the Myanmar government in Hpa-an. For KHRG's analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the preliminary ceasefire, see Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response since the 2012 ceasefire, KHRG, May 2014.

[7] On October 15th 2015, after a negotiation process marred with controversy over the notable non-inclusion of several ethnic armed groups and on-going conflicts in ethnic regions, a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between the Myanmar government and eight of the fifteen ethnic armed groups originally invited to the negotiation table, including the KNU, see “Myanmar signs ceasefire with eight armed groups,” Reuters, October 15th 2015. Despite the signing of the NCA prompting a positive response from the international community, see “Myanmar: UN chief welcomes ‘milestone’ signing of ceasefire agreement,” UN News Centre, October 15th 2015, KNU Chairman General Saw Mutu Say Poe’s decision to sign has been met with strong opposition from other members of the Karen armed resistance and civil society groups alike, who believe the decision to be undemocratic and the NCA itself to be a superficial agreement that risks undermining a genuine peace process, see “Without Real Political Roadmap, Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement Leads Nowhere...,” Karen News, September 1st 2015. The signing of the NCA followed the January 12th 2012 preliminary ceasefire agreement between the KNU and Burma/Myanmar government in Hpa-an.

[8] The Karen (or Kayin) People’s Party is one of four ethnic Karen political parties represented in the Burmese government, currently holding single legislative seat. Traditionally the KPP represents those Karen communities living outside of Karen State: Rangoon, Irrawaddy, and Bago regions, as well as Mon State where there is a Karen population. Saw Htun Aung Myint, the party's chairman, once served as a colonel in the Burmese Navy.

[9] Naw Si Po Ra Sein is the vice chairman of the KNU.

[10] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 11 October 2016 official market rate of 1,247.50 kyat to US $1.

[11] A standard refers to a school year in the education system of Myanmar. The basic education system has a 5-4-2 structure. Primary school runs from Standard 1 to Standard 5, lower secondary school is Standards 6-9, and upper secondary school is Standards 10-11.