Burma and the Karens
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 16 2000
FROM MR J. B. SHRIVE
Sir, With the release by the Burmese Government from imprisonment of brave young Mr James Mawdsley (report, October 21) who demonstrated against the absence of democracy and the continuing persecution of the Karen people, it is timely for us to remind ourselves of the Karens. They were our magnificent allies in fighting the Japanese and are now praying for our help, it seems, in vain.
In his book Return via Rangoon the late Philip Stibbe, who was a Chindit officer imprisoned by the Japanese, wrote:
The Burma Rifles attached to our column were all Karens and mostly Christians. The American Baptist Mission has done fine work in Burma; the Karens' sincerity and spontaneous goodness and happiness are unique in my experience and make them a wonderful advertisement for their religion. To see the gaiety and serenity of their lives is an inspiration not easily forgotten . . . They were a cheerful crowd; in fact they seemed to like us as much as we liked them. We little realised, then, how much we were all to owe to them later.
What has so damaged the British character in the past six decades that the only truly prominent protest against the intended racial extinction of these fine people, who were our wartime comrades, is not by our Government but by a sole 27-year-old? Yours faithfully,
J. B. SHRIVE,
Nr Holt, Norfolk NR25 6PR.