Karen leaders in the Irrawaddy Region ignored warnings and threats from Burmese authorities trying to stop Karen people commemorating the annual Martyr Day on August 12.
The Karen leaders from Hinthada Township are angry at the Burmese authorities for disturbing and threatening law suits over the commemoration of the 68th Karen Martyrs Day.
Officials from the Kayin People’s Party’s said they ignored warnings and threats from the government and held the Karen Martyrs’.
Saw Kyaw Gyi, event organizer and official of Kayin People’s Party in Hinthada Township told Karen News about the government interference.
“We were stopped several times. On the 11th, we were called to the district office. We were also threatened that night. They said that they would use force to ruin our event if we were to continue to hold this celebration. But on the morning (August 12) they came and told us to continue and said that they would take legal actions after the event.”
Saw Kyaw Gyi said that this was the third time the Karen Martyr’s Day was held in Hinthda Township – the day is a historic day that all Karen people honor and hold in high esteem.
Martyr Day activities include the singing of the Karen National Song, saluting the Karen Flag, saluting the deceased Karen Martyrs and the placing of wreaths given by each township.
Event organizers said that Saw Kyaw Gyi, the KKP officier for Hinthada Township who organized the event, together with P’doh Mahn Nyein Maung, the head of the Karen National Union Alliance Affair Department and Executive Committee member and three other event organizers are now the focus of an investigation at the township office.
The Karen National Union’s Executive Committee member, P’doh Mahn Nyein Maung said the disruptions by government authorities was a deliberate attempt to sabotage Martyr Day and is not seen as a positive move.
“This act of disturbing and disrespect of ethnic people traditions, culture, and historical heritage is insulting to the dignity of the ethnic group. It is an insult to all Karen people. They [government authorities] will have to be held accountable for this. This type of action adds difficulties to the ongoing peace process and to national reconciliation.”
The celebration was attended by a crowd of about 1,000 youths from Myan Aung, Lay Myat Nar, Zalon, Danu Phyu, Ma Au Pin and Hinthada Townships.