KNU Leaders Urge Youth to Maintain Tradition

By Nyein Nyein 13 August 2017

Papun Township, KAREN STATE — On Saturday, ethnic Karen in their colorful, traditional attire joined the commemoration of the 67th Karen Martyrs’ Day, the day when Karen nationalist and Karen National Union (KNU) founder Saw Ba U Gyi and Maj-Gen Sai Kay were killed in an ambush by the Myanmar Army, near Toh Kaw Koe village in Kawkareik Township, Karen State.

Wreaths were displayed for the sacrifices and respects were paid through a military parade in KNU-controlled area in Papun Township, near the Thai border.

To more than 1,000 participants, KNU leaders delivered speeches and honored fellow KNU soldiers that have died in the Karen armed resistance over the past 68 years, as well as their family members.

“We must not skip commemorating Karen Martyr’s Day. If we skip it, younger generations will be unaware of it,” said Naw Myaing Poe, the chief justice of the KNU.

The day is in remembrance of soldiers, commanders and members of the public who have sacrificed, and it is important that the younger generations know that Karen people have their own national leaders like Saw Ba U Gyi, she said.

“We have such great leaders and we can now live upon sacrifices they made during the time of the military dictators. It is obvious that we are still under the control of the military,” she added.

Saw Ba U Gyi set four principles for the revolutionary cause. These were: “Surrender is out of the question; the recognition of Karen state must be complete; we will retain our arms; and we shall decide our own political destiny.”

“As we are working to resolve the political problems by political and peacful means, there is a need for us to maintain always the revolutionary alertness so that we may not be violated by military means. We fully have the right and freedom to defend legitimately our people against all malicious dangers, said KNU chairman Saw Mutu Say Poe in his prepared statement that was read on Saturday.

The KNU continues Saw Ba U Gyi’s struggle for equality for ethnic groups and recognition of Karen State, said Padoh Saw Hla Tun, a KNU joint-secretary. He said that the KNU leadership carries these principles in political decision-making.

Our struggle has changed from armed struggle to political dialogue, but our desires and principles have not. We stand firmly on Saw Ba U Gyi’s four principles, he said, adding that the KNU’s policy on the current political dialogue with the government is also based on the principles of federalism and self-determination.

After the KNU signed a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the former government in 2012 and the nationwide ceasefire agreement in 2015, KNU leaders said there were increased interactions between young people inside the country and on the border.

KNU vice chairman Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win urged the youth to learn about and maintain Karen literature, history, tradition, and culture, so that ethnic Karen would continue to thrive in the world.

“We, Karen, each of us has the responsibility to main our nationality,” he said. “All Karen, especially youth, must know about the culture and heredity. We must maintain our language and our tradition. Not only knowing them, we must practice them in our daily life.”