Du Wa Bawm Wang La Raw is the president of the the Kachin National Organization (KNO), which is a political organization founded on January 9, 1999. The main goals of the KNO are to regain the inalienable rights of the Kachin people and restore their pride and freedom by establishing an independent Kachinland. The KNO, based on the Thai-Burmese border, has many branches in foreign countries such as the US, UK, Canada, China, South Korea and Japan. Du Wa Bawm Wang La Raw talks to The Irrawaddy's reporter Sai Zom Hseng about the aims and activities of the KNO, including its desire to see a Panglong-style conference take place, as well as its interaction with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
: What is the relationship between the KNO and the KIO?
: We agreed to work together until we have freedom for our Kachin people, and we agreed to establish a federal union with the other ethnic groups.
: What activities is the KNO curently engaged in and what are the goals of the KNO?
We are trying to establish a federal union with the other ethnic groups, democratic groups and a majority of the Burmese people. We aim to attain freedom and human rights for the Kachin people, to fight for an independent Kachinland, to participate in the formation of a genuine federal union with other ethnic groups and to achieve democracy in Kachinland.
: The KIO has called for a Panglong style conference. What about the KNO?
: The current nation of Burma was based on the Panglong Agreement which was signed on February 11, 1947 at the first Panglong Conference, but later the Burmese leaders did the opposite of what the agreement required. That is why we have the current situation in Burma. There is a civil war because there wasn’t unity among the ethnic groups. We need to revive a Panglong spirit in order to have a genuine federal union. All of our ethnic groups have to sit together and discuss how to form a new government with a constitution, laws and regulations that fit our country. We strongly believe that if there is not a new conference like Panglong, there won’t be a genuine federal union and there won’t be a real government.
: The regime recently selected the new president and vice-presidents. Are they the right persons who can fulfill the country's needs?
: We don’t think that the new president and vice-presidents are the major concerns of the country. The new Constitution is the problem. Though the military generals changed their uniform and came back as a civilian politicians, they have to follow the Constitution. But we all know that the 2008 Constitution extended the dictator’s mandate. Whoever is the president, there won’t be a change for our country yet. The new government will not have the ability to unify the ethnic groups and solve the armed conflicts. If the government really wants to do this, they have to change the Constitution first. That is the reason why we call for a Panglong-style conference comprised of the other ethnic groups and the real representatives of the people.
: What is the KNO currently doing to achieve a Panglong-style conference?
: We have a problem organizing other ethnic groups because we are a Kachin organization. If the National League for Democracy or another organization can organize a conference and lead all of the ethnic groups, we will be a good follower and support them. We also have a plan to cooperate with the other groups. Currently, we are educating the Kachin community in Burma and in foreign countries about what their rights are and how to become involved in the political field.
: Some political observers said that the new parliament will bring about change in Burma, but others say change won't occur without an armed struggle. What is your opinion?
: It is dependent on the commitments of the different persons and groups. As for the people who believe in the parliament, they first have to ask whether there is any representative in the parliament who really wants change.