The Karen National Union’s (KNU) Vice-Chairperson, Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein, urged Karen people to recall the four founding objectives of their struggle. Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein was speaking at a ceremony marking the 66-years since the Karen held a massive march in Rangoon to demand equal rights from Burma’s government, then newly independent from the British.
“Today is one of the most important days for the Karen people both in Burma and across the world. We need to recall what our national leaders first demanded in 1948, equal rights for ethnic minorities, an issue over which we have been fighting for over six decades,” she said.
Karen National Day commemorates the 11th of Febuary 1948, when over 400,000 Karen took to the streets in Rangoon to demand from Burma’s Post-Independence Government equal rights for Karen people.
The ceremony, held at the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 3 area, Nyaunglebin district, was attended by Karen leaders including, the Joint-Secretary of the KNU, Padoh Saw Thaw Thi Bweh, KNU Brigade 3 commander Brigadier General Saw Eh K’lu Thein, leaders from Nyaunglebin Township, military officers, and civilians from Shwegyin, Mone, and Kyaukgyi townships – it was estimated that as many as 500 people attended.
The founding objectives that the Karen demonstrated for were – ‘give the Karen State at once,’ ‘give the Burmese one Kyat and the Karen one Kyat’, ‘we do not want communal strife,’ and ‘we do not want civil war.’
General Saw Eh K’lu Thein stressed ethnic unity at the ceremony.
“Our people have been struggling for a Karen State of our own since straight after Burma’s independence in 1948. We need to rethink and move forward together under one banner even if there are different opinions among us,” he said.
Saw Leh Lo Thaw, a villager who attended the ceremony, told Karen News that even though ethnic Karen had “different opinions” over how to achieve a positive peace during the ceasefire process, he believed that “our leaders effort’s will be successful.”
The ceremony finished with a public conference on the ceasefire and the peace process talks between the KNU and Burma’s government.
This is the first time that a celebration of Karen National Day was held in Nyaunglebin district with KNU leaders.