Today is the 63rd anniversary of Karen Martyrs’ Day that commemorates Karen leaders and civilians who sacrificed their lives for the cause of the Karen people under successive Burma military regimes.
In a letter addressing all Karen people, General Mutu Say Po, chairman of the Karen National Union, said that the sacrifice of their lives by its martyrs had help the Karen people to exist as a nation and maintained the Karen struggle.
“The 63 years of armed resistance, the sacrifice of lives by countless martyrs was for Karen people to be liberated from oppression and for them to lead a life of dynamic progress, peace and prosperity. The sacrifice of our martyrs has allowed the Karen people to exist as a nation, and for the Karen peoples’ resistance movement to continue to be active today.”
In January 2012 the KNU reached preliminary ceasefire agreement with Burma government. The KNU stressed that this is the first step towards building peace in the country.
Karen soldiers, civil society groups and observers have said that since the ceasefire agreement the KNU and the Burma government have made little progress and have yet to reach an official level of political dialogue.
General Mutu Say Po message on Karen Martyrs’ Day noted that the KNU currently faces many difficulties.
“Today, the leadership of our organization and our nation’s future political movement is faced with a challenge. It is necessary to study the features of this challenge in depth, lay down a political program consonant with the situation and face it with boldness and unity. At the same time, it is necessary to review, amend and adjust the leadership of our organization, unity within the organization, the performance of duty by individuals within the organization.”
The KNU leader’s statement encouraged Karen people to be involved in the Karen struggle.
“Now is the time…for the Karen people to participate and cooperate with unity and boldly express [the] aspirations of the Karen people. The Karen people want to live in dignity. They are a free people and have the rights to self-defense and self-development. No one can infringe on these rights.”
The Karen Martyrs’ Day is commemorated each year on August 12, the anniversary of the day when the Burma Army assassinated the Karen’s leader, Saw Ba U Gyi, in 1950. The Karen Martyrs’ Day is held to commemorate soldiers and people who lost their lives in the arm conflict between the various Burma military regimes and the Karen people over the last six decades.