By Saw Lahkbaw*
Karen Martyrs Day is not a day to be celebrated with light-hearted activities. It is a day of mourning and honoring our martyrs. Celebrations not acknowledging the services and sacrifices of our martyrs is disrespectful. Celebrations without taking the time to remember what our fallen died for is an inadequate response.
Karen Martyrs Day is a day of grieving for all Karen people. The commemoration serves as a reminder our struggle is unfinished and achieving our liberty now falls on our shoulders – the day is a call to action.
When we celebrate our fallen heroes with songs and speeches, their spirits live on with us. They speak to us through their speeches. The fallen heroes talk to us about their visions for a free Karen. They have set a course for us to take through their sacrifice. Stories of their bravery refreshes our courage. Their sacrifice is sacred. The principles they set forth fighting for our freedom serves is our foundation to build on. Since our journey is not complete, their failures serve as our teachers.
Kawkoh Saw Ba Oo Gyi, not only gave light to the course of our struggle, but was a freedom fighter and diplomat. His wisdom is never out of fashion. He is a beacon for the Karen freedom struggle for generations to come.
Saw Ba Oo Gyi laid down his three scenarios for the Karen armed struggle to achieve victory. Among the three, he predicted there will be a time when we have to force our will upon the enemy, when the enemy is dragged into an endless crisis – that foretold opportunity has now arrived.
Saw Ba Oo Gyi, our first President of the Kawthoolei Government, left us too early, however, his wisdom is with us forever – he lives among us through his guiding principles.
We have lost many lives, but our struggle lives on. Our revolutionary people’s army continues the fight and our government structure guides our struggle.
Currently, we have a hero, beloved of the people, who declared there has not been a time better than now for us to unite to achieve our goal.
Since the beginning of our armed revolution, many have sacrificed, but their hopes and dreams live on.
A celebration lacking respect of those wishes and teachings is a thoughtless celebration. Failure to recognize our heroes is denying their existence.
For us to live as a nation with dignity, we have unfinished work, but the strength we possess from our youthfulness offers us a historical opportunity.
May the spirit of our fallen heroes relive through us as we celebrate Karen Martyrs’ Day with honor.
*The views in this article are those of the author. Saw Lahkbaw can be reached at email: firstname.lastname@example.org