KNU Marks 64 Years of Resistance

KNU Chairperson Mutu Say Poe delivers a speech marking the 64th anniversary of Karen Resistance Day on Jan. 31, 2013. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / The Irrawaddy)

On Thursday, the Karen National Union (KNU), one of the world’s oldest insurgent groups, marked the founding of its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), on Jan. 31, 1949—an event commemorated every year as Karen Resistance Day.

Despite a now year-old ceasefire with the Burmese government—the first in the KNU’s history—the spirit of resistance lives on in KNU-controlled territory in eastern Burma, as these photographs by photographer Vincenzo Floramo show.

Speaking at the commemoration ceremony, new KNU Chairperson Mutu Say Poe, who played a key role in reaching last year’s historic agreement to suspend hostilities, made it clear that this was only a first step toward lasting peace.

“The current ceasefire is an endeavor for reaching the stage of political dialogue. However, in the current situation, we are still within the context of revolutionary armed resistance,” he said.

But despite the displays of military readiness, the event was not all about the ever-present possibility of war. Traditional Karen culture was also on show, highlighting the strong ethnic identity that has kept the Karen struggle alive for so long.

Underlining this strong bond among the Karen—who have suffered several episodes of internecine strife during their years of fighting for greater autonomy from Burma’s central government—members of an ethnic Karen Border Guard Force under the command of the Burmese army also attended Thursday’s festivities.

While a permanent end to the KNU’s struggle with the Burmese government remains elusive, it appears that for one day, at least, the Karen were at peace among each other.


3 Responses to KNU Marks 64 Years of Resistance

  1. You mean. 64 years of REVOLUTION against Democracy! Burma was Rich & Democratic until they rebelled against the government right after Independence.

    Please don’t forget the True History Mr. Editor. Karens never had a country or kingdom before. only small tribes.

  2. Zey Naing is right. Lower Burma is Mon Kingdom and Burma is around Bagan area, Ava area and Mandalay area. I believe the Burmese people will go back where they belong, it is Anya May(Magwe Division, Lower Part of Sagaing Division and Mandalay Division are Proper Burma). Karens people and their affairs have nothing to do with Proper Burma. So, Zey Naing’s view is unacceptable.

  3. Most old Karen who lost their resistance to Burma blame Chin ( Zochin) army in that time 1949 – 1957) But they do not understand why. Karen made mistake during their resistance time 1. Their leaders in that time have overconfident to win and did not recognized political solution is needed for to succeed in Burma. They did not try to organized other ethic nationalities in that time. They want all Burma instead of try to liberate or enjoy their freedom from Burma.It did not work because Chin ( Zochin ) army help Burmese army to retained their power in hoping that the Burmese help them back to help them for implementing Chin Lushei regulation act Where they enjoy self determination related to their resource, literature( British help them for their langues ,their literature) their custom and their own every day life administration by them self) they enjoyed during British colony and they get promised by Aung San in pong long agreement.The Karen people should do in that time is talk to to all ethic nationalities to joined them for every body got their fair share if they succeed their resistance from Burma who proud of cheating other for their monopoly.
    2. They did not try to show international communities what is going on during Mananpalaw crushing by Burmese Military
    3. They based on bitter experience rather than try to protect their God given right.
    4. They fail to recognized how this Burmese (who even care to kill their father during Burmese king time ) lying and divided strategy.
    5. They fail to recognized this military tactic the one they used for crushing Mananpalaw which they still used it for crushing Kachin headquarter( make peace others so that they have more strength to crush the strongest.)
    They fail to recognized this military seven stages for democracy is . all ethic do not have international help by look like those who do not participate for democracy .
    Wake up Karen , try to abandon history mistakes. The world is not stupid enough to bear this military 2008 constitution where democracy and ethic cleansing( killed them, expel them to other country as refugee , forced them to become Burmese) can not go together.

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