Karens in Malaysia Observe New Year Day
By Tara Horn, 16 Dec 2006 – Kuala Lumpur: Several hundred people assembled in Kuala Lumpur today to observe the Karen New Year Day. The Malaysia Karen Organization put on the celebrations, which were held at the International Youth Center in Kuala Lumpur. This is the fifth year that the Malaysia Karen Organization has honored their national holiday in Malaysia. Hundreds of Karen living in exile in Malaysia attended the event.
There are currently estimated to be around 4000 Karen living in Malaysia, the majority of whom are refugees living without legal identity documents. The Malaysia Karen Organization works to promote the safety of the Karen people in the country. Today’s festivities were also attended by representatives from the UNHCR and Medicine Sans Frontiers, also known as Doctors without Borders, as well as representatives from the other ethnic nationalities of Burma in Malaysia.
The event included performances of traditional Karen songs and dances, with performers wearing their respective traditional dress. Karen leaders gave speeches in Karen, Burmese, and English on the history of the Karen nation and the Karen New Year, as well as the background on the current political situation in Karen State and Burma, and the role that the Karen have played in the democratic struggle in Burma.
The current New Year on the Karen calendar is 2746. The Karen year is measured from the date of arrival of the Karen people in their current homeland in the east of Burma.