Salween Peace Park, Myanmar: Strengthening Karen People's Resistance, Resilience and Response to Conflict and Covid-19 Crises

Salween Peace Park, Myanmar: Strengthening Karen People's Resistance, Resilience and Response to Conflict and Covid-19 Crises

The Salween Peace Park is an initiative in Myanmar declared by Indigenous Karen people in December 2018 to bring peace, cultural harmony, self determination, and environmental integrity after 70 years of armed conflict in the region. However, the community continues to face threats from the Burmese military dictatorship. In this webinar, Saw Paul Sein Twa and Naw Wah Ku Shee talk about the experience of the Karen people working towards self determination, navigating a global pandemic, and facing a violent military offensive.

with Saw Paul Sein Twa and Naw Wah Ku Shee

Date: Sunday August 1st of 2021

Time: 14:00 (UTC/GMT)

Duration: 90 minutes

Download: [ Video ] (567Mb) | [ Audio only ] (76Mb)

More information

After enduring more than 70 years of civil war, and with a long-term vision of fostering peace, cooperation, cultural resilience, sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity conservation and local livelihood improvement, the Indigenous Karen People in northern Kawthoolei, southeastern Myanmar established the 5,400 km2 Salween Peace Park. This bold community-governed initiative has received positive international response, being awarded the prestigious Equator Prize and Goldman Environmental Prize in 2020.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with an intensified armed conflicts including airstrikes after the Feb 1 Burmese military coup, have seriously impacted the Park's security and stability. Two-thirds of the population have been displaced into the jungle or have temporarily sought shelter across the border in Thailand. However, the resistance continues. As much as possible, local people have used their traditional knowledge and practices, such as traditional ritual lockdown, to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen Civil Society Organisations are taking many risks in responding to the humanitarian emergency, by supporting those displaced by the war. The SPP Governing Committee has been mobilising external support, encouraging communities to find local solutions and mitigation plans, channeling pivotal news updates, and sustaining the forests, mountains, and rivers as a safe-haven.

About the presenters

Saw Paul Sein Twa

Paul is an indigenous Karen from Burma/Myanmar, co-founder and Director of the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)— a non-profit NGO, Member of the ICCA Consortium, dedicated to livelihood security and respect for the Indigenous Karen people in Burma/ Myanmar. Paul has worked for decades to better the conditions of his people, most recently as one of the main inspirers and key supporters of the self-proclamation of the Salween Peace Park by its custodian communities. The Salween Peace Park (SPP) is an emblematic territory of life of enormous importance for both nature and culture. It protects the last dam-free main river in Asia and 5,485 km2 of globally significant biodiversity. In 2020, the Salween Peace Park was awarded the Equator Prize.

Naw Wah Ku Shee

Naw Wah Ku Shee is a prominent Karen activist working to promote human rights, democracy and peace, with a focus on women and ethnic communities especially in conflict areas of Burma/Myanmar. She is currently director at Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN), the largest network of Karen community-based organisations. She is also a member of the Karen Women's Organisation's Steering Committee, with a membership of over 60,000, working to empower women in the struggle for peace and gender equality and for a federal democratic Burma.