The 2014 Karen New Year is first time hundreds of Karen villagers east of Myeik were able to celebrate.
On January 1, 2014, hundreds of Karen villagers in Paluk and Palaw townships and other eastern parts of Myeik town, Tanintharyi region came to celebrate the Karen New Year in Ka Pyaw (Pa Pyin) village.
The Karen National Union (KNU) Mergui-Tavoy chairman, P’doh Saw Beeler in his speech to the large crowd said.
“Due to the armed struggle and political problems [in our country] our people have been scattered throughout the country, others fled to neighboring countries and others have resettled overseas.”
P’doh Saw Beeler told the New Year crowd that the political struggle has forced Karen people to live in dire circumstances for years.
“It is a challenge for our people to exist as a nation. Our people want to live as a nation – in freedom, dignity and peace.”
P’doh Saw Beeler said that Karen must be united and work together to be part of the Burma’s political solution.
“For the Karen to continue to exist as a nation all the Karen [factions] must unite and work together.”
P’doh Saw Beeler stressed that the KNU was working for a peaceful political end to Burma’s decades of armed conflicts.
“We reached a cease-fire with the government in 2012 and are trying to resolve the political issues and to build a genuine peace. In the peace building process it is important all Karen understand each others views and cooperate with each other.”
The celebration of Karen New Year in Ka Pyaw is three days, and the festival includes sports, traditional ‘done’ dance and the singing.
This 2014 Karen New Year is 2753. The Karen New Year was celebrated all around the area in Tenintharyi region, in cities and the KNU control area. The celebration of Karen New Year has been more organized and widespread celebration after the KNU reach cease-fire with the government in 2012.
P’doh Saw Eh Kaw, chairman of KNU Ler Mu Lah township told Karen News.
“This is the first time that the Karen villagers in rural area especially Karen villagers who remain in Burmese Army forced relocation site for more than a decade join together to celebrate the Karen New Year. At the beginning the villagers are fear to raise the Karen flag, but we have to encourage them there will be no action taken from the government. The villagers are still in fear to express their selves as they have been living under suppression for a long time.”
Villager, Naw Pa Saw Paw from Ka Pyaw told Karen News what the New Year celebration meant to her.
“This is the first time we have celebrated the Karen New Year in our village. Before we never had a chance. We are happy and in the future we want our Karen people to have more freedom to celebrate not only our Karen New Year but also to enjoy our traditions.”