Karen people across Myanmar celebrated Kayin New Year’s Day yesterday after a year marked by violence, displacement and dwindling aid.
Kayin New Year is celebrated on the first day of Pyatho, the 10th month of the Burmese calendar, and annually sees Kayin communities come together to celebrate their unique cultural identity with song and dance performances while dressed in traditional clothes.
Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein was on hand — dressed in traditional Kayin attire, no less — to give a speech at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
၅.၁.၂၀၁၉ ရက္ညေန ၅ နာရီ ၃၀ မိနစ္—————————–လႈိင္သာယာၿမိဳ႕နယ္၊ ေအာင္ေျမသာယာဘုရားအနီး၊…
While the celebrations serve as an affirmation of Kayin identity and a show of force and unity for Kayin communities across Myanmar, they are also a stark reminder of the progress that needs to be made to normalize ethnic relations in Myanmar.
Fighting has continued since 2016 between the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Border Guard Forces (BGF), displacing thousands from their homes in Kayin State. Earlier this year, refugee camp officials estimate 5,610 are internally displaced.
Earlier this year in March, the Myanmar Army also deployed six battalions in territory controlled by the Karen National Liberation Army, resparking open conflict between the two factions.
Moreover, needed aid in these camps has dwindled since the Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw U Thuzana, the much revered yet controversial monk from Kayin State, passed away in mid-September while in Bangkok for treatment.
Myanmar’s internal conflict is the longest ongoing civil war in the world, beginning shortly after independence in 1948.
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