Karen Day in D.C.

About 10,000 Karen from all over the US gathered at the nation’s capital on Monday, November 6th for a rally to draw attention to the atrocities committed by the Myanmar government towards ethnic and religious minorities. Among them were KOM program manager Morrison Johnny and staff, Julyna Loo, Ta Da, Marner Saw, Paw Boh Htoo and many more Minnesotans.

The rally was organized by the Karen Organization of the United States of America (KOUSA) in order to unite the Karen people living in the U.S., thank the U.S. government for supporting Karen refugees and other refugees from Burma, and ask the government to speak out against the atrocities being committed by the government of Burma (Myanmar).

Karen organizations from all over the U.S. were invited to participate including KOM, the Karen Organization of San Diego, the Karen Association of South Dakota, and many more. However, not just organizations traveled to D.C. to show their support, but also Karen refugees from Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, New York and other states, bringing friends and family by plane, car or van.

Don dancers from Utica, New York performed in front of the capitol building in Washington.

Also, invited to the rally was Isaac Six, Congressional Relations Specialist with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In his speech he encouraged everyone gathered there by saying, “No matter what you think of other faiths or other people groups, we can all stand in agreement in saying that no human being should be subjected to the types of atrocities occurring in Burma today … If we’re willing to persist with movements and events like these, to continue to stand in unity, not just for ourselves, but for all who suffer injustice, then I believe we’ll move down that path [towards a free and truly democratic Burma] and we’ll bring peace with us as we go.”

As more leaders and supporters spoke, members of the crowd adorned the speakers with yarn leis to honor them. In his speech in both Karen and English, Morrison Johnny from KOM proclaimed, “We came here to be part of the solution. No matter what, we have to work together to reach to our goals. There is no freedom without sacrifice.”

The sheer number of people who gathered at the capitol, and the words spoken by the addresses show that the Karen and others in the United States will continue to advocate for freedom and peace for all in Burma, no matter how long it takes.

Read an article written by the Star Tribune about Karen Day in D.C. here.

Watch a video of KOM Program Manager, Morrison Johnny, giving a speech at Karen Day in D.C. here.

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