“A workshop of Karen National Union, Local Communities and Civil Society Organizations”
A two-day public forum was held in Thantaung Myo Thit, Taw Oo/Taungoo District in Karen Area from April 18 to 19, 2014. This forum jointly supported by Paungu and Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN).
The event also was organized and facilitated by the KESAN, with the coordinating work of the Karen National Union's Taw Oo District's authorities, and a number of KNU departments' heads from agricultural, education, forestry, Karen political party, Karen Community-Based Organizations (KCBOs), including the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP), Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), Karen Women Organization (KWO), and local communities participated in it. There were around 200 participants turnouts at the forum. Main issues/topics discussed during the two-day forum included peace, natural resources and sustainable community development in Taw Oo/Taungoo areas.
The forum, for the first of its kind, was a very successful event held in the area because there was diversity of participants (e.g. local communities, religious organizations, local and central KNU's leaders, Karen peace group, political party, civil society organizations). Local KNU's leaders were very supportive and actively participated in the event. Four central KNU's leaders from relevant departments, as mentioned above, also actively participated and shared their works (e.g. land issues and policy) with other participants.
We found out that there were three main important issues that were needed to be discussed: peace and development projects; land issues; and livelihood of locals and their situations. The discussion went well and we came up with a good collective action plans that we have to implement it. Villagers requested KNU leaders to help them solve the problem. They would collect all the detailed information about individuals and companies that involved in land grabs and report it to district authorities.
After the forum local communities requested KESAN to organize this kind of event annually because they found it very important and useful for them.