Karen indigenous communities in Myanmar have officially launched the Salween Peace Park

Karen indigenous communities in Myanmar have officially launched the Salween Peace Park

Last month, indigenous Karen communities, the Salween Peace Park Committee, and the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) officially launched the Salween Peace Park in the Mutraw District of Myanmar’s Kayin State. A three-day event in mid-December 2018 that featured traditional Karen ceremonies and performances was held to mark the ratification of Salween Peace Park’s charter, which was developed by Karen communities to embody their “aspirations for genuine peace and self-determination, environmental integrity and cultural preservation,” according to a statement. The event also included a memorial service for indigenous leader and environmental activist Saw O Moo, a fierce advocate for the Salween Peace Park who was killed by members of the Myanmar military last year. The launch event for the Salween Peace Park featured traditional Karen ceremonies and performances as well as discussions about Karen culture and sustainable livelihoods. Photo Credit: KESAN. The Salween Peace Park is the result of several decades’-worth of grassroots efforts such as the establishment of community forests, the enforcement of fish conservation zones, and the demarcation of “Kaw,” or traditional indigenous lands. The park initiative was spearheaded by local communities, Karen civil society groups, and Mutraw District leaders in order to protect these community-based efforts as well as “to demonstrate what truly good governance could be and provide a people-centered alternative to top-down, militarized development,” according to a brief on the Salween Peace Park Charter circulated by KESAN. In particular, the park was created as an alternative to allowing the construction of hydroelectric dams…

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