Karen people across the world took the time to remember their fallen heroes. It was significant that in Karen State the Karen National Union commemorated the 62nd Karen Martyrs’ Day with a military parade in its Brigade 6 area at Noh Poe-Htee Mu Hta village in Myawaddy Township. This is the first time that a military parade was openly held in a government-controlled area.
The commemoration ceremony was attended by as many as 400 people including members of the KNU and villagers from Noh Poe, Htee Mu Hta and Meh Ka Nae. Captain Hla Min, the Karen National Liberation Army, Brigade 6 Special Battalion Commander, said with pride that this was their first time in that area that they had a military parade included in the program.
“It is the ceasefire period and it is good we can have a military parade in Noh Poe village – to raise our patriotism and nationalism. In the past, we could only have a military parade in the jungle when we commemorated our Martyrs’ Day.”
Among those attending the event were Saw Popo Htoo Aung from the KNU’s Nyaunglebin District organizing department and Saw Eh K’Lu Say, Vice chairperson of the Karen Youth Organization who made speeches to the gathered people.
A young villager from Meh Ka Nae village told Karen News.
“This is my first time attending Martyrs’ Day held at Noh Poe village. It is an honor. I gained a lot of knowledge from listening to the speeches given by Karen leaders about our Martyrs’.”
The commemoration program included the raising of the Karen flag to the half way to mark and honor the many lives that have been sacrificed, a military parade, honoring the families of the fallen and presenting a wreath to the Martyrs Pillar.
The Martyrs’ Day commemoration ceremony has been held 13 times at Noh Poe village. As well as a military parade, this year’s event also included a singing competition and a football competition that began on August 11.
Karen Martyrs’ Day was also held in the KNU’s Brigade 7 in Pa-an District and by the KloHtooBaw Karen Organization with its armed wing, the DKBA holding commemoration events at the Kaw Thoo Mwe Khee area in Myawaddy Township – as many as a thousand people attended. The 88 generation student leaders, Ko Mya Aye and Ko Htay Kywe were among those who attended the Karen Martyrs’ Day ceremony held in Kawkareik Township.
On the Thai-Burma border the 62nd Karen Martyrs’ Day was commemorated by students from Kaw Th’Blay School run by the Karen National Defense Organization.
Karen Martyrs’ Day marks the death of the first Karen national leader, Saw Ba Oo Gyi, who was killed on August 12, 1950 by the Burma Army. The Karen Martyrs Day was ratified during Karen Government on April 1951 and since its inception it has been commemorated – this is the 62nd year.