18 FEBRUARY 1949, Page 18


Sut,—On a previous occasion a letter from Mr. Aubrey Buxton encour- aged me to express in your columns my profound regret at the rough justice handed out to the Karens by the British Government, a regret which, I am sure, is shared by all those who have been fortunate enough to have known and worked with these gallant and charming people. Much of what is taking place in Burma today is the inevitable and logical outcome of the ill-timed granting to her of independence. Unlike Mr. Buxton I do not conform to the view that it was the right and only policy in the circumstances ; I thought at the time, and have never had cause to change my opinion, that it was a stupid and short-sighted act. On the other hand I agree to the full with Mr. Buxton, in the Spectator of February 11th, that should the Burmese Government in a last endeavour to save itself ask this country for aid, it would be a cruel and criminal postscript to an already tragic story if such aid—whatever its form—were to result in the crushing of the Karens' efforts to achieve their freedom. We have betrayed them once and, by so doing, have forced them to fight for what they believe to be their due. No one is to blame except ourselves. The opportunity for us to combine states- manship and gratitude to a loyal minority has been callously thrown away. The best we can hope for now is that the Karens, if they win through, will be prepared to forgive and forget our treatment of them.—