Despite its Legal Status, Karen Martyrs’ Day Well Attended

For the second year running the Burma’s government allowed Karen people to commemorate their Martyrs’ Day in Rangoon. The 65th Karen Martyrs’ Day was held at the Judson Hall on August 12, 2015.

This year’s event organized by Karen youth groups packed out the Judson Hall including representatives of the Karen National Union. Organisers said many people did not attend as under the existing laws the KNU is regarded as illegal and could be arrested under Article17/1.

Padoh Thamein Tun, Executive Committee Member of the KNU who attended the event spoke to Karen News about the event.

“We didn’t have this chance to hold this kind of event during the previous governments. We all knew it. We are allowed to do this only under U Thin Sein government. We are an armed group and the works we do are considered to be against them, however, this government gave us permission to hold this event. All in all, this government is a better prospect compared to the previous governments – it is showing a willingness to peace build for the whole country.”

Naw Say Moo Paw, a Rangoon based Karen Singer (a.k.a) Kabyar Bwe Hmu told Karen News that she is grateful to be able to attended the event as it is a significant day for Karen people.

“We are thankful to those authorities who allowed us to do this. When we do this, it is important that our new generation get involved. This is a privilege for our people.”

For young Karen people growing up in government controlled areas and studying at government schools, they know little about the assassination of the Karen’s charismatic leader, and KNU former president, Saw Ba U Gyi, who was murdered on August 12, 1950. This day is now designated to commemorate his death and all those soldiers and Karen people who died in the armed struggle for self-determination.

Naw Hsa K’pru Moo, Karen Youth, who attend the event told Karen News that the commemoration is an opportunity for her to learn about Karen Martyrs and the Karen struggle.

“I studied about Myanmar martyrs at school. We learnt about them from school textbooks. But, we never had the chance to learn about our Karen revolution and Karen leaders. We didn’t know about them. We only learnt about this through this kind of event. It helps me to know more about our Karen national leaders, the need for unity among Karen youth and to know more about our Karen struggle.”

Saw Tun Tun, a coordinator from Youth Circle who took part in the organizing of the event spoke to Karen News.
“The most important thing for doing this is for this kind of event to be officially allowed – this will be reassuring for the peace building process, that is now only at the ceasefire stage, and for overall national reconciliation efforts.”

Padoh Thamein Tun, said that by commemorating Karen Martyrs’ Day in places like Rangoon would bring many positive outcomes – it is an opportunity for the Karen community on the border and inside the country to be reunited and to exchange experiences and the event allowed them people who don not know about Karen Martyrs’ Day to talk about Karen history.

Padoh Thamein Tun said that it is important for youth to take up the Martyrs unfinished work and fulfill it.

“A message I would like to pass to our youth is that do not consider this just as an event, but strive to keep our martyrs’ spirits and goals inside our hearts and continue to accomplish the goals of our Martyrs that we have yet to achieve.”

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