KNU's Struggle for Democracy & Equality of ALL Nationalities
( S.H.A.N. & Burma’s News Published by Burma’s Chinese 貌强 23－8－05)
Hand-Tying Ceremony of the Year 2744 Karen Era The 19th of August 2005 is the auspicious day of traditional Hand-Tying Ceremony of the Karen people. The Karen people, starting from about 2744 years ago, had entered into and settled down in the land now known as Burma and they are a people with their own traditions, literature and culture. The Hand-Tying Ceremony is one of the traditions and culture of the Karen people. Since it is a good custom and practice for the Karen people to maintain and observe this cultural tradition, the KNU, highly appreciate and praise the observation of it. At the present, the Karen people do not still have the right to decide their own political destiny and have to exist under the rule of the ultra-nationalist military dictatorship, they have no freedom in the fields of political, economic, social and cultural development. It has become a matter of concern for Karen people, because the language, literature and cultural activities of the Karen people are taking a turn to fade and vanish, in the repressive environment. For that reason, with the realization of this true situation, all the Karens participate unanimously in the struggle for the right of the Karen people to decide their own destiny. History of the Karens and KNU
The Karens of Burma, have been cornered into fighting against the ruling Burmese Governments for the past forty-three years. Holding the reins of all organs of the state, and in full control of the press, radio, and television, the successive ruling Burmese Governments from U Nu AFPFL (Anti-fascist People Freedom League) to the present Military Junta headed by General Than Shwe , have always painted KNU as black as they can. They have branded KNU insurgents, war mongers, a handful of border smugglers, black-marketeers and stooges of both the communists and the imperialists. Even so, to the extent of his ability KNU has always tried to refute the nefarious one-sided Burman propaganda of false accusations and make the true facts of his cause known to he world. In fighting against the ruling Burmese Government, KNU is not being motivated by narrow nationalism, nor by ill-will towards the Burmese Government or the Burman people. KNU’s struggle was instigated neither by the capitalist world nor by the communists, as some have falsely accused him. It has an originality completely of its own. Throughout history, the Burman Chaovinists have been practicing annihilation, absorption and assimilation(3 A) against the Karens and they are still doing so today. In short, they are waging a genocidal war against KNU. Thus KNU has been forced to fight for his very existence and survival.
Karen National Union(KNU) Kawthoolei
The Karens, A Nation, Their Nature and History
The Karens are much more than a national minority. The Karens are a nation with a population of 7 million, having all the essential qualities of a nation. The Karens have their own history, own language, own culture, own land of settlement and own economic system of life. By nature the Karens are simple, quiet, unassuming and peace loving people, who uphold the high moral qualities of honesty, purity, brotherly love, co-operative living and loyalty, and are devout in their religious beliefs. Historically, the Karens descend from the same ancestors as the Mongolian people. The earliest Karens (or Yangs as called by the Thais), settled in Htee-Hset Met Ywa (Land of Flowing Sands), a land bordering the source of the Yang-tse-Kiang river in the Gobi Desert. From there, the Karens migrated southwards and gradually entered the land now known as Burma about 739 B.C.. The Karens were, according to most historians, the first settlers in this new land. The Karens named this land Kaw-Lah, meaning the Green Land. They began to peacefully clear and till this Green Land from all hindrances. Their labors were fruitful and they were very happy with their lot. So the Karens changed the name of the land to Kawthoolei, a pleasant, plentiful and peaceful country. Here they lived characteristically simple, uneventful and peaceful lives, until the advent of the Burman.
Pre World War II Eras: Burman Feudalism, British Imperialism and Japanese Fascism
The Karens could not enjoy their peaceful lives for long. The Mons were the next to enter this area, followed at their heels by the Burman. Both the Mons and Burman brought with them feudalism, which they practised to the full. The Burman later won the feudal war, and they subdued and subjugated all other nationalities in the land. The Karens suffered untold miseries at the hands of their Burman lords. Persecution, torture and killings, spppression, oppression and exploitation were othe order of the day. To mention a few historical facts as evidence, people may refer to the Burman subjugation of the Mons and the Arakanese, and especially their past atrocities against the Thais at Ayudhaya. These events stand as firm evidence of the Burman feudalism, so severe that those victimized peoples continue to harbour a deep -seated resentment of the Burman today. At the time, many Karens had to flee for their lives to the high mountains and thick jungles, where communications and means of livelihood were extremely difficult and diseases common. The Karens were thus cut off from all progress, civilization and the rest of the world, and were gradually reduced to backward hill tribes. The rest of the Karens were made slaves. They all were forced to do hard labour and were cruelly treated.
When the Brithish occupied Burma, the conditions of the Karens gradually improved. With the introduction of law and order by the Colonial Central Authority, the Karens began to earn their living without being hindered, they could go to school and be educated. This infuriated the Burman, to see the despised Karens being treated equally by the British. Progress of the Karens in almost all fields was fast, and by the beginning of the 20th Century, the Karens were ahead of other peoples in many respects, expecially in education, athletics and music. It could be said that the Karens had a breathing spell during the period of the British Regime. But during the Second World War, in 1942, the Japanese invaded Burma with the help of the Burma Independence Army(BIA), who led them into the country. These BIA troops took full advantage of the situation by insinuating that the Karens were spies and puppets of the British, and therefore were enemies of the Japanese and the Burman. With the help of the Japanese, they began to attack the Karen villages, using a scheme to wipe out the entire Karen populace which closely resembled the genocidal scheme Hitler was enacting against the Jews in Germany. The Karens in many parts of the country were arrested, tortured and killed. their properties were looted, their womenfolk raped and killed, and their hearths and homes burned. Conditions were so unbearable that in some areas the Karens retaliated fiercely enough to attract the attention of the Japanese Government, which mediated and somewhat controlled the situation. Post-World War II Eras: Demand for the Karen State, Tensions and Armed Conflicts
The Bitter experiences of the Karens throughout the history of Burma, especially during the second World War , taught the Karens one lesson: as a nation, unless they control a state of their own, they will never experience a life of peace and decency, free from persecution and oppression. they will never be allowed to work hard, to grow and prosper. Soon after the Second World War, all the nations under colonial rule were willed with national aspirations for independence. The Karen sent a Goodwill Mission to England in August 1946, to make the Karen case know to the British Government and the British people, and to ask for a true Karen State. But the reply of the British Labor Government was to throw their lot with the Burman.The Karens deeply regretted this, for as it predictably has turned out today, it was a gesture grossly detrimental to their right of self-determination, only condemning them to further oppression. It is extremely difficult for the Karens and the Burmans, two peoples with diametrically opposite views, outlooks, attitudes and mentalities, to yoke together.