Pa-O National Celebration in US

AAP staff report
ST. PAUL (March 7, 2009)

The Pa-O ethnic community of Minnesota, was joined by 500 other friends and fell ethnic groups from Burma, in its National Day celebration last month in St. Paul. As a cultural day set on he full moon of Dann See Lar Bhaw, it is celebrated simultaneously in Pa-O communities around the world.

The event was part historical, cultural and political, with leaders networking to make an impact on democracy as the looming 2010 elections come to Myanmar with a military regime still unwilling to allow fair elections or relinquish power.

Some of the guests were said to have lived in the jungle along the Thai border as refugees for as long as 15 years, according to Khun Aung Naing, member of the Pa-O National Day Celebration Committee – U.S.A.

According to the program, the Pa-O have Mongoloid descendants and they spread throughout the region that is now Cambodia, Vietnam as early as 2500 B.C. The earliest settlers to the Thahton region of Burma arrived around 681 B.C., where they founded the Royal City of Suvannabhumi (El Dorado), which is now called Thahton. Around 158 dynasties ensued up to the last king Manuhar, who took Mon queen.

The presentation followed that the “awakening of the Pa-O national spirit” arose in the latter part of the colonial age, when Pa-Os in the hills launched a national movement against imperialists after forming the “Five Precepts Association.” The peaceful effort began with boycotting gambling houses, opium dens, and liquor shops run by Imperialists.

By 1947, the Five Precepts Association had allied with other groups, including the Karen ethnic group, and demanded the country abolish land schemes, representation in the country and the army, and to grant them a national day.

After independence in Burma, and the coup that followed the first appearance of a federal democratic union representing all ethnic groups, the Pa-O, Chin, Kachin and Karen ethnic leaders held a meeting in Rangoon and form an Ethnic Nationals Committee to address oppression of religion, literature and culture and struggle for democracy and self determination.

The fight has continued ever since.

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