AKO by ေစာမင္းျဖဴ



       The Burmese military ruling regime has used the four cuts operation in the eastern
Karen State since 1976 against Karen National Union (KNU). This operation is also known
as Scorched Earth, or the Scorched intervention military tactic. It commences annually as the
"dry season offensive" against the country's ethnic nationalities. Since 1996, over 3200
villages in eastern Burma had been destroyed and forcibly relocated or abandoned.

       The Burmese military has persuaded some of the Buddhist Karen under one of the
Karen monk and created Democratic Karen Buddhist Organisation (DKBO) and formed the
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), who is a politically naive group with very
limited political and general knowledge. Their propaganda is that the KNU is a Christian
organisation working solely for its own benefit. Moreover, the DKBA leaders were misled by
the SPDC's promise that “If there is no Marnerplaw (the KNU headquarters), the Rangoon
government will withdraw all their troops from the Karen State and within six months, would
be installed the DKBO as government and handed over all political power to them to rule
their own Karen State".

       Since then, the Burmese army and DKBA combined troops and attacked Wanka, where
KNU's base caved. During January and around Februrary 1996, the Burmese and DKBA
combined troops attacking with mortar shellings and burning down Karen refugee camps
along the Thai-Burma border at Maeramu, Bawnaw, Shoklo, Kamawlayko and Hwaykaloke,
where tens of thousands of Karen refugees lived. Within the 15 months the Shoklo and Hway
Kaloke camp were burnt down twice despite the UN and Human rights commission (Human
rights council) having passed repeatedly resolutions condemning Burma's military regime for
human rights abuses each year since 1990.

        A working committee was first formed in 1996 embodying themselves as the
Australian Karen Organisation (AKO) to make representations, and bring to the attention of
the world community the plight of the thousands of refugees that were being driven out of
their homes to the Burma-Thai border.

        The committee operated as organisation giving priority to the urgent matters and
situations that they had, and their fellowmen were experiencing.

        The AKO's objectives were to express their concern and disapproval of the
deterioration of the living standards and denial of basic human rights and injustices that their
fellow Karens and others were suffering at the hands of the military authorities in Burma. The
AKO have organised themselves, joining together to show their solidarity, and to continue
the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Burma.

      When the news of the Burmese army's attack on Karen Refugee camps circulated, the
Karens all over Australia held a teleconference and agreed for the AKO to meet with the
Australian Foreign Affairs Officials. The first Karen protest against the Burmese army's
attacks on Karen Refugee camp at the Thai-Burma Border was in front of Burmese embassy,
Canberra on the 17 February 1997. Subsequently AKO's delegation (consisting of Karen
delegates from Perth, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne) met with the Australian Foreign
Officials, after the Karen protest. Following meeting with Australian Foreign Officials, the
Karens held another meeting at Canberra to discuss the drafted AKO constitution, and made
suggestions to seek advice from the Karen National Union (KNU) to gain perspective of the
overseas Karen needs.

       Finally the Karen groups in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia finally
concluded their consultations on the 14 February 1998 and agree to adopt the constitutions
for the umbrella organisation for the Karen people in Australia, including women department
and youth department as set out hereunder. The Australian Karen Organisation was registered
as Incorporated under the Association ACT 1981, on 16 July 1998 in the state of Victoria.

       At present, there are six chapters of the Australian Karen Organisation- which operate
as the Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, Australian Capital
Territory and Northern Territory branches.

     The AKO's National general meeting is held biannually, while each state management's
annual meeting is held yearly. The AKO's National Council consists of 21 to 42 members (7
nominated members from each state) with a term of two years.

The Australian Karen Organisation is an umbrella organisation for the
Karen people in Australia and to represent them; voice their concerns in all political, social,
cultural and economic matters; and to facilitate their affiliation to the AKO.

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