In Myanmar: Union Day among the Karen

I spent February 12, Myanmar’s Union Day, among the Karen.

Union Day celebrates the signing of the Panglong Agreement between the majority Burmans and the minority ethnics to struggle together for an independent Union of Burma.

The meaning of Union remains contested among the minorities. Indeed the Mon and Karen minorities were not even original signatories. But more on that another time…

I did not see any signs of the differences that are being negotiated with gunfire in the jungles. For most it seemed like just a day off for a swim at the water hole or a convenient holiday to get the family together for a wedding. And for others, it looked like business as usual – whether collecting alms or buying and selling at the market, doing the wash, working in the family rice fields and vegetable patches or just running around wild among the village pagodas.

Here are the pictures of my Union Day among the Karen in Hpa An, the state capital, and the surrounding countryside.

A day off –

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Business as usual in Hpa An –

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And also in the countryside –

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7 Responses to “In Myanmar: Union Day among the Karen”
  1. The name ‘Burma’ carries so much with it and Myanmar says nothing to me but these pictures speak of people not nation – and I suppose reality versus political hocus pocus. I must go back and check out what you’ve seen and said before! Thank you, Mary

    • Audrey Chin says:

      Mary… Yes, many prefer Burma to Myanmar. In truth though, that word too is a construct, a relic of a none-too-happy British colonial period. I’m just going with what’s currently being used. As you said though, in the end it should be about people not nation;) Pascal Khoo Thwe, the author of Land of The Green Ghosts says it best. When asked how peace might come to Myanmar, he said – lets not talk about unity, lets just decide not to fight each other.

  2. Audrey you are sharing a world I never get to see, the photo’s are not only educational in a sense but timeless and beautiful. Thank you. Can I ask about the young boys who were suppose to have their heads bowed, is that not a sign of the times, a new generation across the globe who are different than the last generation? The world is becoming smaller….

  3. Mc says:

    Beautifully captured and presented Aud!

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