COLUMN: Start Caring For The Karens

Tah Si Soe Thaw, Reporter

Courtesy of Tah Si Soe Thaw

On the first day of February, news broke out about how the Burmese military overthrew the short-lived democratic government. They cut off the internet, shut down banks, cut off flights and more in order to cut the country’s connection with other parts of the world.

When word got out, I didn’t know how to feel. On one hand, I was empathizing with them, yet on the other, I was kind of frustrated that this was publicized more than the mass ethnic cleansing that is going on in the country.

In no way am I belittling the events happening in Myanmar at the moment. I saw the recorded videos of civilians protesting and some people have died and got shot just because they were there protesting.

I feel angry that one of the protestors got shot when they did nothing but stand there.  There were also some civilians that were held captive and later freed, but they were injected with drugs and were later conned to burn down their own villages.

Aside from the Burmese military hurting their own people, they’re known to abuse and kill ethnic minority groups. The military seizing all power could make it harder for these groups.

The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims is really well known, yet there’s not really much done to help them. They’re still being wiped out, just as the Karen, Kachin and many more.

As a Karen, I feel like it is my duty to let my voice be heard and speak out for the Karen people who can’t. The Karen people have been fighting the longest Civil War, which has lasted over seventy-two years and is ongoing.

At this point there’s nothing we want more than peace. It’s heartbreaking to see pictures and videos showing the Karen people having to run for their lives and getting tortured, beat and killed when caught, it’s always hard to watch knowing that there’s nothing we can do aside from trying to raise awareness and letting our voices be heard.

I consider myself lucky to have never dealt with any of that, that’s why seeing it happen hurts more. Families are being torn apart and they go to sleep not knowing if the next day will be their last, something that I never have to worry about.

While I’m at school learning, there are children out there running away. While I’m busy wasting food, people are out searching for food.

I want people to be aware, there’s very little coverage about what is happening with the Karen people and other minority groups. I’m tired of seeing innocent lives being taken.

I’m waiting for the day where these people will be free and find a place they can call home, even if it takes a while.

To educate themselves, people can start by reading articles about the lives affected by the cleansing, watching documents or to just simply ask the Karen friends that they have. In order to help, people can start by spreading awareness using their social media, getting in contact with people that can help and donate through links and signing petitions.