Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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Karen – Dta Muh Dta Ku

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

Dta Muh Dta Ku

Relates to peace

The Karen word for peace implies more than the absence of fighting.  It carries the notions of tranquillity and peace of mind. The term used suggests the Karen desire to live free from the hindrances of conflict. Its direct translation is:

– Dta Muh – Satisfied

– Dta Ku – Comfortable

The words conveys coolness of well-being. It may be necessary to fight for such ‘well-being’. In political parlance it is often used in reference to the fight for a Karen country – a fight which aims to give the Karen a ‘true peace’. An article from Tha Noo Htoo Journal, (‘Come back the right way and save your people’), a journal aiming raise Karen awareness, stresses such a need to fight to achieve peace. The Karen have committed themselves to a fight for peace:

Hser K’taw Ber Lee N’thay Nyar Nel Ter lee Per Tay Kwei na Ter mart Lay A’blut T’ao T’per Dot Hel Kay Paw Taw Hsu K’wel Dot mart Th’koot Ter lay P’pwart K’lu A’gaw T’kay. Ter Hsu Mel Ket Mel Thu T’tu Lae Dot nar N’pwart K’lu Kel Ler Ter Mu Ter Khu Hsu Nyar A’gaw Hel Kay Duu Nao Kwei Du Der Eei T’kay. Ter htu plet nay May Wel Ter Kel Ler Lay P’gaw Law

“Time to know about things, leave unimportant work and come back pick up weapons and work for our nation. Before you encountered problems you and your people must protect peace by attacking our enemies. Freedom is everything for usUnderstanding the word peace in this way may help us to appreciate the frequent failure of the “peace talks” in which the KNU engage.  From a Karen point of view the achievement of peace means far more than the cessation of fighting, and the quest itself might be viewed as entirely consistent with continuing conflict.”

The author then continues:

Hser K’taw Ber Lee N’thay Nyar Nel Ter lee Per Tay Kwei na Ter mart Lay A’blut T’ao T’per Dot Hel Kay Paw Taw Hsu K’wel Dot mart Th’koot Ter lay P’pwart K’lu A’gaw T’kay. Ter Hsu Mel Ket Mel Thu T’tu Lae Dot nar N’pwart K’lu Kel Ler Ter Mu Ter Khu Hsu Nyar A’gaw Hel Kay Duu Nao Kwei Du Der Eei T’kay. Ter htu plet nay May Wel Ter Kel Ler Lay P’gaw Law

“Time to know about things, leave unimportant work and come back pick up weapons and work for our nation. Before you encountered problems you and your people must protect peace by attacking our enemies. Freedom is everything for us. Understanding the word peace in this way may help us to appreciate the frequent failure of the “peace talks” in which the KNU engage.  From a Karen point of view the achievement of peace means far more than the cessation of fighting, and the quest itself might be viewed as entirely consistent with continuing conflict.”

The word is also used in reference to ‘peace talks’. The Karen have been involved in a number of discussions with the Burmese government which have primarily failed due to the latter’s insistence that as a military government it is unable to reach a settlement with the KNU. Despite this and the many other difficulties the Karen leadership sees in obtaining peace it is still sought after. As Bo Mya maintained in one of his speeches:

Pa Pwart K’lu T’eh Aay Lool Ter Hsot Kay Ber. Mae may T’kaw P’pwart K’nyaw Eei Eh Ter Khu Ter Poot Dot Ter Mu Ter Ku Law. Ber Hser P’yaw K’lu Do So Lay A’aye A’thaw Poe Hsu Poe Hsot Thay T’per T’thay Nyar Ter Gay Ter Aye Ber Dot Mart Aye Mart Thaw Tu Mu Ma Hser T’ni Nyar Eei Nay Law

Our nationality doesn’t like conflict basically our Karen people love unity and peace but the Burmese Generals rule the country cruelly. They do not compare good things and bad things even today.”

While many of the politically-minded Karen see peace as being only achievable through the recognition of a Karen state, for many of the villagers and the less politically minded peace retains its original meaning and a desire to be left free from complications.

 

 

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[1] ‘Come back the right way and save you people’, Lah Ka Paw, Tha Noo Htoo, Volume 3, pg 13

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