Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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Karen – Dta Thu Taw Dta Na Ni Lo Tha

May 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Confidence, Karen

Dta Thu Taw Dta Na Ni Lo Tha

Relates to confidence-building

A word for confidence-building emerged in the post-Manerplaw years after the KNU, still reeling from the loss of its headquarters, embarked on a number of peace negotiations with the Burmese military. In 1996, a number of Karen leaders were sent as envoys for the purpose of building up trust between the two sides.

On the their return they used the expression, (dta thu taw dta na ni lo tha), to discuss their activities.


– Dta Thu Taw – Building

– Dta Na Ni – Trust

– Lo Tha – Two Sides

Although the 1996-1997 negotiations proved to be unsuccessful, the Karen National Union had maintained close relations with a number of Burmese army contacts resulting in further attempts at confidence building in late 2003 when another team was sent to prepare the way for a new round of talks in January 2004.

It must be noted that this word has still not found popularity within the Karen population due to the fact that it is too long. While a number of Karen leaders may use it, the majority of the population would be more familiar with the expression used for ‘peace talks’. One person we spoke to who is responsible for writing a number of articles in the Karen Information Centre’s newspaper, which is widely distributed in KNU controlled areas of Karen State, confirmed that it was unlikely he would ever use the word due to its length and the fact that many of his readership would not understand it.





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