Defending Kawthoolei: The story of Salween Peace Park

A new video from YLNM, IPCM and Kalikasan PNE shares the inspiring story of the Indigenous Karen People’s defence of their ancestral territory- Kawthoolei- through the creation of Salween Peace Park. It is accompanied by a photo story from YLNM Regional Coordinator for S.E.Asia, Clemente Bautista.

The Salween Peace Park and Karen People’s Defense of Land and Life

By Clemente Bautista. 18/03/2019

The Salween Peace Park is a 5,200 square kilometer forest park in Hpapun District, Karen State. It is home to the Karen people, one of the biggest indigenous people groups in Myanmar.

From one generation to another, the Karen people have protected and defended the huge area overflowing with natural resources, high biodiversity, unique ecological landscape, along with the people’s rich cultural heritage.

On December 18, 2018, the Karen people formally declared the establishment of the Salween Peace Park. It is an aspiration came true on by the Karen which fighting to protect their Kawthoolei, the name of their ancestral homeland.

Almost a month after the establishment of the Salween Peace Park, a meeting was held on January 14-16, 2019. It was attended by solidarity missions both from the Philippines and Myanmar and had a meaningful community exchange and sharing on the experiences and lessons of grassroots organizations from Yes to Life No to Mining Network, International People’s Conference on Mining, and the International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self Determination and Liberation.

The Salween Peace Park is an example of a community-based, people initiative which help in protecting the environment, conserve our resources and respect the rights of communities. This an example of an emblematic case which successful in stopping destructive projects like big dams and large-scale mining.

The Salween Peace Park ensures the ecological conservation and people-centered resource management in the area. At the same time, the people continue to actively confront great challenges and grave threats from the power generation and commercial mineral extraction projects that the Burmese government wants to implement in the area.


For more than a decade, the Karen people have been opposing the construction of the 1,365 MegaWatt Hatgyi Dam which is being pushed by the Burmese government along with Thai and Chinese companies.

However, the historic struggle of the Karen people and their triumph in protecting Salween Peace Park prove that they will never bow down to such exploitation and destruction. The majestic land and river of Salween bears witness to this commitment of the people to defend land and life.

Part of the community’s collective efforts is the formation of training programs for its members. KESAN with the Karen people has built an Indigenous Eco-Training Center, which they collectively operate and maintain under the supervision of KESAN staff based in Mutraw District.

They cultivate their own organic farmlands, grow free-range chicken and swine. The training center has also hosted several training and activities that includes the use and transfer of indigenous knowledge and introduction of new technologies for the betterment of people’s lives.


Karen men and women work hand in hand in continuous development of the community. It also notable that Karen women are also in charge of gathering wood and leaves in the forest to build their houses.

The culture of weaving to produce the indigenous attire of the Karen people is very much alive in the community. Materials like cotton, thread and color dye are readily available in their forest. Members of the community keep wearing their traditional attire as cultural pride and as a result, kept the existence of weaving among the Karen people.

The peace that ushered in Salween Peace Park is largely due to Karen people’s struggle to protect their community and uplift the lives of their people. However, genuine peace — when there is no more threat to their lives remains a dream to be fulfilled.

In the midst of all this, the Karen People continue to assert their right to self-determination. With the establishment of Salween Peace Park as “a space of peace, self-determination, environmental integrity, and cultural survival,” the Karen people have re-envisioned their indigenous territories that they shall pass on to the next generation.

 

Related Posts

Building a post-extractive society in Southeast Asia
Webinar: Building a post-extractive society in Southeast Asia
Defending Kawthoolei: The story of Salween Peace Park
Myanmar-Philippines: Exchange for peace and peoples’ defence of land
Slow Death in Siberia

Slow Death in Siberia

Press Release: Slow Death in Siberia
The Philippines, a nation rich in precious metals, encounters powerful opposition to mining
Philippines bans new open-pit metal mines
In Indonesia, women farmers crush cement mining and production factories
Resistance, exchange, (post)extractivism: YLNM Coordinators meet in Galicia- in photos
Safeguarding People and the Environment in Chinese Investments- A guide for community advocactes
To change a BIT is not enough
Philippines: Green group calls for immediate enforcement of suspension, closure orders on 26 large-scale mines
VICTORY! OceanaGold loses ISDS claim against El Salvador
Philippines: Indigenous Peoples Rally in Support of El Salvador against Oceana Gold
Interview with freed environmental defender Beejin Khastumur
Beejin Khastumur: Environmental defender’s trial saga continues
All that Glitters is Not Gold: Resisting Mining Plunder in The Philippines
REVIVING RIVER MYNTDU, REVIVING A LOST CULTURE
Take Action: A Fair Trial for Environmental Defender Beejin Khastumur
Victory! Oceana Gold Pulls Out Drilling Operation after people’s barricade
Save Dory’s home from toxic mine waste!

Save Dory’s home from toxic mine waste!

  • Written on: 17 June 2016
  • Posted under: Campaigns
300 Tibetans protest gold mining at a sacred mountain in Tibet
Outcry as Adivasi activist Gladson Dungdung is prevented from traveling to the UK
Open Letter: Adivasi rights activist Gladson Dungdung prevented from boarding a Delhi-London Air India Flight
Good news for the only place on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together
Filipino environmentalists join global protests to demand justice for Honduran activist Berta Caceres
Nueva Vizcaya stops entry of mining firms

Nueva Vizcaya stops entry of mining firms

Global Civil Society Organisations Call for Release of Mongolian Environmental Defender Beejin Khastumur
Urgent Action: Call for the release of imprisoned Mongolian environmental defender
Leader of NGO Opposing Illegal Mining in Mongolia Arrested
Bayto, the village that stood up to mining

Bayto, the village that stood up to mining

Shan civil society groups call for gold mining suspension
India: Tribe set to resume David & Goliath battle with mining corporation
Burying the Law to Make Way for a Coal Mine

Burying the Law to Make Way for a Coal Mine

The Coconut Revolution: Resisting Rio Tinto’s Panguna Mine

The Coconut Revolution: Resisting Rio Tinto’s Panguna Mine

  • Written on: 19 February 2016
  • Posted under: Videos
Adivasis’ Last Stand: The New Battleground Against Mining is Khandadhar
Voices of Indigenous Women Human Rights Defenders from the Philippines
Philippines: Indigenous Peoples Seeking Lepanto Mine Closure
Mongolia: YLNM members DMNN suffer threats and assault for investigating illegal mining
Balok Sea Turns Red from Bauxite Mining

Balok Sea Turns Red from Bauxite Mining

  • Written on: 06 January 2016
  • Posted under: Videos
Villagers in Myanmar retake land from mining company
Mongolia: Demonstrators stage sit in to demand an end to illegal mining
At COP21, the people and future generations will be failed once again
LAKBAYAN 6: RESIST IMPERIALIST PLUNDER, STOP LUMAD KILLINGS!

LAKBAYAN 6: RESIST IMPERIALIST PLUNDER, STOP LUMAD KILLINGS!

  • Written on: 17 December 2015
  • Posted under: Campaigns
Climate Change and Coal Mining in India

Climate Change and Coal Mining in India

Protesters demand Aquino government close mines linked to paramilitaries
Inside the indigenous movement to protect India’s commons
No Response, No Accountability for Tenasserim Coal Mine Damage
YLNM Coordinator ‘Enteng’ Bautista tailed and harassed by suspected military agents
Coal, Which Built a Chinese City, Now Threatens to Bury It
Indonesia: Farmer Anti-mining Activist killed in Selok Awar-Awar
Heed the Costs of Gold Mining

Heed the Costs of Gold Mining

Philippines: Environmental groups and communities protest Mining Philippines 2015 Conference
#StopLumadKillings | Philippine Groups protest mining conference
Addressing Lumad killings, mining abuse & internally displaced people
India’s Coal Rush

India’s Coal Rush

  • Written on: 09 September 2015
  • Posted under: Videos
Our Resistance, Our Hope: Unity Statement of the International People’s Conference on Mining
Lianga Massacre: Lumad leaders killed in Philippine ‘mining capital’
Photo Story: Communities tell OceanaGold to abandon Didipio mine
Bangladesh Government says NO to Phulbari Coal Mine
How radio protects community forest land- Cambodia

How radio protects community forest land- Cambodia

  • Written on: 21 August 2015
  • Posted under: Videos
Against Letpadaung: copper mining in Myanmar and the struggle for human rights
Achievements of the Global Day Against Mega Mining
Philippines: Environmentalists hold protest-dialogue to reject multinational mining in Lobo
Greenpeace, villagers fight to keep coal mining from ‘life-giving’ Mahan forest in India’s energy capital
Villagers oppose laterite mining on Koraput hill
Mapping Gender Based Violence and Mining Infrastructure in Mongolian Mining Communities
Soil mining continues unabated on Palora Hill
People’s Victory – Environmentalists hail exit of mining giant in Tampakan
The Horrors of Rat Hole Coal Mining

The Horrors of Rat Hole Coal Mining

  • Written on: 24 June 2015
  • Posted under: Videos
The Bloody Illegal World of Sand Mining

The Bloody Illegal World of Sand Mining

  • Written on: 22 June 2015
  • Posted under: Videos
Mining Affected Peoples to Unite at International Peoples Conference on Mining, Manila 2015
Glencore? No More! London protestors call for end to Glencore’s mining abuses in the Philippines and worldwide
Palawan Brooke’s Point Pastor

Palawan Brooke’s Point Pastor

  • Written on: 08 April 2015
  • Posted under: Videos
Philippines: Palawan Indigenous Group calls on Citinickel to stop all mining operations
‘We will never give our land’. In India millions protest removal of the need for local consent in land acquisition for mining.
Philippines – 20 years of mining plunder, pollution and destruction must end.
Hunger Strike and Protest: Mongolian Government Gives Green Light to Hundreds of Mining Projects
CONDEMNED: Russian Coal Mining and Shor Displacements

CONDEMNED: Russian Coal Mining and Shor Displacements

  • Written on: 05 February 2015
  • Posted under: Videos
At a Glance: The Philippine Mining Situation
Alyansa Tigil Mina: Mining in the Philippines

Alyansa Tigil Mina: Mining in the Philippines

  • Written on: 10 December 2014
  • Posted under: Campaigns
Coal Mines Polluting South Kalimantan’s Water
Vedanta & Niyamgiri: Supporting Evidence
Mining in India: Films

Mining in India: Films

Mining in India: Reports

Mining in India: Reports

Greenpeace: Coal in India

Greenpeace: Coal in India

The God of the Mountain: Vedanta’s Assault on Niyamgiri

Start a Conversation. Share Words of Solidarity.

This website is about building a movement. We can only build a movement when we connect with one another. We invite you to do just that…

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *