HPA-AN DISTRICT, Karen State — Hundreds of ethnic Karen including members of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) gathered at the armed group’s Brigade 7 headquarters in Hpa-an District on Sunday to mark the 67th anniversary of Karen Resistance Day.
In the early morning, KNLA soldiers raised the Karen national flag and paid their respects to fallen leaders and soldiers who sacrificed their lives during a civil war that broke out in 1949, one year after Burma gained independence.
Karen troops also led military parades during the ceremony, celebrated annually on Jan. 31, which marks the founding of the KNLA, the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU). The day is celebrated by the KNLA and its supporters throughout the territory it controls in Karen State, eastern Burma.
Karen civilians, young and old and with many in traditional attire, also attended Sunday’s event alongside representatives of the KNU and community based organizations. Traditional Karen dances, including the Done dance, and other performances were held.
Founded in 1949, the KNLA has seven brigades and controls between 5,000 to 7,000 soldiers.
The armed group signed a bilateral ceasefire with the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein in 2012, despite disagreements within the organization’s leadership.
In October last year, the KNU was one of eight armed groups that signed the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement.
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