AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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8th National Karen Youth Seminar was held successfully

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

The 8th National Karen Youth Seminar was successfully held from 3rd - 6th January 2017 at Morrisset Outdoor Education Centre in Sydney, New South Wales. Congratulations to Sydney Karen community leaders, AKO New South Wales Chairperson and its dedicated team for their extraordinary effort for a successful event.

There were roughly around 120 people attended the 8th National Karen Youth Seminar with participants from Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia. Joining Aussie youth at this seminar is a dedicated Karen young girl who flew all the way from New Zealand just to experience the seminar.

The National Karen Youth Seminar is a biennial event which is held in Australia since 2000. The event has come about after the leaders of the AKO believed that there is a need for the youth in Australia to be exposed to the idea of culture maintenance, political awareness, being aware of Karen values and customs. It is to uphold and maintain Karen values and traditions and at the same time to adapt to Australian culture, values, and its rules and regulations.

The National Karen Youth Seminar was held alternatively between VIC and NSW in early years in a small group. But as the years progressed, the number of participants has increased due to the arrival of Karen refugees from Thai-Burma border across Australia under Australian refugee settlement program.

The aim and objectives of the seminar were to;

  1. To promote and facilitate networking among the Karen youth in Australia
  2. To empower the Karen community in Australia
  3. To equip and empower for future Karen leadership
  4. To maintain and promote Karen tradition and Culture
  5. To strengthen Karen national value and beliefs
  6. To raise awareness about the Karen situation

Recent activities

Multicultural celebration event, Victoria

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

On the 29th March our AKO Australia Karen Organisation in Victoria members were invited to participate in an event called Global Pathway at Trinity College. We were able to show primary school children our traditional performances, instruments and our way of living in our Karen State. There were over 248 teachers and students that can to our station showing interest in our culture. As we engaged with the students and teachers, we realised many of them were surprised.

We were able to get to teachers and students to participate in dancing and playing the drums. In the end the organiser of the workshop came and reported back to us on how the majority of students was mesmerised by our culture display and performances.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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Read a full information on the establishment of AKO (Read more >>)

AKO >> About Australian Karen Organisation

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

Since Karen people came to live in Australia, they have seen that organisation is very important for the community in this country. Even though they were less in number, they started organising themselves as a group. After the Karen people started growing in number, in 1996 they started organising a committee. The purpose for this committee is to work for the Karen people who had resettled in this country especially in socio-political perspective. For the Karen organisation to be recognised in this country, this committee started writing basic constitution for the first time on February 17, 1997. The same year, the Karens in different states started organising committees for the first time through Teleconference. On February 14, 1998, the Australian Karen Organisation's constitution was recognised by the Australian government. And in April, 1998, the Australian Karen Organisation's committees from all over Australia held the first national conference in Sydney. On July 16, 1998, the Australian Karen Organisation was recognised by the Australian government.

AKO - Mission & Vision Statement

  • The Australian Karen Organisation (AKO) was registered as Incorporated under the Association Act 1981 on 16 July 1998 in the state of Victoria.

  • At present, there are seven chapters of the Australian Karen Organisation which operate as the Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Northern Territory branches.

  • There are many Karen community members living across Australia who migrated under the SHP Program Visa Sub Class 200, 202, and 204. It is estimated that the number of Karens in Australia are about 20,000, with a majority of Karen refugees resettling in Victoria.

AKO - Vision statement

  • Our vision is for the well establishment and resettlement of the Karen community in Australia.

AKO - Mission statement

  • Our mission is to represent and act as an umbrella organisation for the Karen people in Australia and to represent them and voice their concerns in all political, social, cultural and economic matters and to facilitate their affiliation to the AKO.

AKO - Objectives

The Objectives of the Australian Karen Organisation are as follow:

  • To encourage and foster the development and perpetuation of the Karen culture and language.

  • To act as the representative of the Karen community at all levels of government and other authorities, be they State, Federal or Local.

  • To act as the representative of the Karen community in the Ethnic Affairs Commission and other cultural, social or political organisations.

  • To promote public awareness for the problems and hardships suffered by the Karen ethic group have been forced to emigrate from homeland and take refuge in foreign lands.

  • To represent the Karen ethnic group and participate in forums and conferences at national and international level in order to achieve Equality, Peace, Freedom, Justice and Human Rights for the Karen in Burma and abroad.

  • To initiate and participate in welfare projects for the Karen communities in Australia and in areas where they have been forced to take refuge from the onslaught of the illegitimate Burmese government.

  • To prepare and maintain a census of the Karen people in Australia.

In order for our Objectives to be fulfilled we, therefore, want to encourage our people to work together for peace in order that our people would be in stable in the countries where we live. Our greatest hope is that we want to see all the Karen people working in peace and harmony.

Structure of the AKO

  • The AKO has a Central Committee to co-ordinate the activities of the AKO and to be the ultimate authority in matters of policy, discipline and direction.

  • A Management Committee is appointed in every branch to manage the affairs of the branch in the state in which it has been formed.

  • Within the each state’s Management Committee are two departments. One of which is the Youth Affairs Department which is to focus and institute programs on matters pertaining to the Karen Youth in Australia and overseas, and to network with other youth groups around the world.

  • The latter department is the Women Affairs Department which is to focus and institute programs on matters pertaining to the Karen women and women of the world and to network with other women organisation around the world.

  • Sub-committees may also be formed as and when necessary to facilitate and implementation of programs initiated by the AKO.

P.O BOX Information

P.O. Box 58 Guildford, Sydney NSW 2161 Australia: Tel: (61-2) 9788 7633; Tel/Fax (61-2) 9632 6248.

P.O Box 679 Mirrabooka, Perth WA 6061Australia: Tel: (61-8) 9349 4073 Fax: (61-8) 93495254.

P.O. Box 1278 Werribee Plaza, Melbourne VIC 3030 Australia: Tel/Fax (61-3) 9734 0400.

P.O. Box 421 Zillmere, Brisbane QLD 4034 Australia: Tel: (61-7) 3205 7039.

P.O. Box 982 Mawson, Canberra ACT 2607 Australia; Tel: (61-2) 6296 7191.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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AKO >> Executive Committee

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

President

AKO - Executive Committee

Saw LWIN OO

Vice President 1

AKO - Executive Committee

Mahn ORLANDO

Vice President 2

AKO - Executive Committee

Thataw KUNOO

General Secretary

AKO - Executive Committee

Sanlwin Y SHWE

Joint Secretary (1)

AKO - Executive Committee

Ester KYAW

Joint Secretary (2)

AKO - Executive Committee

Ler Say WAI

See more..

Youth Department Coordinator

AKO - Executive Committee

Ku Gay Htoo MAY

Women Department Coordinator

AKO - Executive Committee

Crystal GAW

Education Coordinator

AKO - Executive Committee

Saw Moo K'Lue DI GAY

Cultural Coordinator

AKO - Executive Committee

Maw Noo THA HEH

EC Member

AKO - Executive Committee

Lulu JOHNNY

EC Member

AKO - Executive Committee

Kaw Hser Paw HLAING

EC Member

AKO - Executive Committee

Melvyn PARNELL

EC Member

AKO - Executive Committee

Eh Soe KYAT OO

EC Member

AKO - Executive Committee

Nay Moo LERCY

P.O BOX Information

P.O. Box 58 Guildford, Sydney NSW 2161 Australia: Tel: (61-2) 9788 7633; Tel/Fax (61-2) 9632 6248.

P.O Box 679 Mirrabooka, Perth WA 6061Australia: Tel: (61-8) 9349 4073 Fax: (61-8) 93495254.

P.O. Box 1278 Werribee Plaza, Melbourne VIC 3030 Australia: Tel/Fax (61-3) 9734 0400.

P.O. Box 421 Zillmere, Brisbane QLD 4034 Australia: Tel: (61-7) 3205 7039.

P.O. Box 982 Mawson, Canberra ACT 2607 Australia; Tel: (61-2) 6296 7191.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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Contact us

P.O BOX Information

P.O. Box 58 Guildford, Sydney NSW 2161 Australia: Tel: (61-2) 9788 7633; Tel/Fax (61-2) 9632 6248.

P.O Box 679 Mirrabooka, Perth WA 6061Australia: Tel: (61-8) 9349 4073 Fax: (61-8) 93495254.

P.O. Box 1278 Werribee Plaza, Melbourne VIC 3030 Australia: Tel/Fax (61-3) 9734 0400.

P.O. Box 421 Zillmere, Brisbane QLD 4034 Australia: Tel: (61-7) 3205 7039.

P.O. Box 982 Mawson, Canberra ACT 2607 Australia; Tel: (61-2) 6296 7191.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

P.O BOX Information

P.O. Box 58 Guildford, Sydney NSW 2161 Australia: Tel: (61-2) 9788 7633; Tel/Fax (61-2) 9632 6248.

P.O Box 679 Mirrabooka, Perth WA 6061Australia: Tel: (61-8) 9349 4073 Fax: (61-8) 93495254.

P.O. Box 1278 Werribee Plaza, Melbourne VIC 3030 Australia: Tel/Fax (61-3) 9734 0400.

P.O. Box 421 Zillmere, Brisbane QLD 4034 Australia: Tel: (61-7) 3205 7039.

P.O. Box 982 Mawson, Canberra ACT 2607 Australia; Tel: (61-2) 6296 7191.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

P.O BOX Information

P.O. Box 58 Guildford, Sydney NSW 2161 Australia: Tel: (61-2) 9788 7633; Tel/Fax (61-2) 9632 6248.

P.O Box 679 Mirrabooka, Perth WA 6061Australia: Tel: (61-8) 9349 4073 Fax: (61-8) 93495254.

P.O. Box 1278 Werribee Plaza, Melbourne VIC 3030 Australia: Tel/Fax (61-3) 9734 0400.

P.O. Box 421 Zillmere, Brisbane QLD 4034 Australia: Tel: (61-7) 3205 7039.

P.O. Box 982 Mawson, Canberra ACT 2607 Australia; Tel: (61-2) 6296 7191.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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AKO >> Media Statement

Statement from Karen Women's Movement

2nd - 3rd February 2017

Law Khee Lar, Karen State

In order to strengthen Karen women’s rights and the women’s movement across Karen communities, Karen Women Organisation brought together the second Karen Women's Seminar in Lay Wah (Law Khee Lar), Karen State, on 2-3 February, 2017. Around one hundred women attended the seminar, representing many Karen civil society organisations from various parts of Karen state, local and international chapters of Karen Women Organisation, human rights groups, and local communities.

The aims for holding the two-day seminar were to establish a network to support the Karen women’s movement. The participants discussed a range of critical issues, including the need to empower women’s voices in the ongoing peace process, and how to address the problems and difficulties that Karen women face on a daily basis. Social justice issues such as refugee repatriation and rehabilitation, and the protection of women and children were also in the heart of the discussions and deliberations.

In this seminar, the women participants reviewed and discussed Karen women’s activities during the Democratic transition period, and developed strategies for how to promote and advance the work of women’s rights organisations. At an all-female assembly, women safely raised their voices, and found opportunities for collaboration and assistance among like-minded women’s rights advocates.

At the conclusion of this Karen women's seminar, the attendees jointly and endorsed the following resolutions to address the ongoing lack of gender justice that Karen women face every day.

    Karen women in the Karen communities will be actively involved in building the future of Karen people by creating strong networks and links between Karen women, by receiving and sharing technical assistance from the respective organisations.

    Karen women will actively participate in and take responsibility of the peace process with the Myanmar Government, and shall campaign through legal means. Karen women’s participation in politics shall increase, through the cooperation of women in local communities to share information and advice about women’s rights and political engagement.

    Karen women vow to cooperate and help each other to fight for human rights, particularly those of ethnic nationalities, as well as advocating for basic healthcare, education, legal protection of women, environmental protection, land ownership rights, and refugee repatriation and rehabilitation.

Contact Persons:

  1. Naw Ohn Hla: +95(0)9778432670,+95(0)9454718543 (For Karen and Burmese Language)
  2. Nan Tin Tin Hlaing: +95(0)9425041734,+95(0)9794614185 (For Burmese Language)
  3. Naw Htoo Htoo: +66(0)872051856 ( For Karen,Burmese and English Language)
  4. Naw Ler Lah Khu Htoo: +66(0)862078993 (For Karen and English Language)

9th AKO Biennial General Meeting Statement

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

9th AKO Biennial General Meeting Statement

23rd - 25th September 2016

Sydney, Australia

The Australian Karen Organisation (AKO - Inc.) 9th National Biennial General Meeting was held on the 23rd to 25th September, 2016. Representatives from the five states/territory attended.

The following resolutions were made unanimously:

  1. AKO reaffirms and uphold the Karen four slogans of peaceful demand and Saw Ba U Gyi’s Four Principles till completion of Karen national and political objectives.

  2. AKO supports the Karen revolution by all political, moral and with the accomplishment of the Karen national objectives – equality, genuine federal union with self-determination.

  3. AKO believes that the NCA agreement as it currently stands is not weighted equally between the ethnic nationalities and the central government. The agreement would be more fairly balanced without the Burmese military’s ‘The Six Peace Principles’.

  4. The 21st century Panglong conference is a good platform if every stakeholder is participating with sincerity to achieve true national conciliation. In reality we see clearly that the Burmese military is against the change that is why the Burmese military is the obstacle to national conciliation being achieved.

  5. Development projects, land confiscation and extraction of natural resources in the ethnic areas need to be consulted and agreement reached with locally effected people according to the norms of international law.

  6. AKO does not support the premature repatriation of refugees along the Thai-Burma border due to the instability of the area caused by the Burmese military.

  7. AKO urges international governments to continue cross-border funding in supporting the Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) along the Thai-Burma border.

  8. AKO calls on the Burmese military to unconditionally cease fighting in Karen state and all ethnic areas in order to make the national cease fire legally binding.

  9. AKO urges KNU leaders to stand firm according to the Karen revolution principles.

National Executive Committee

Australian Karen Organisation Inc.

Media Contact:

Sanlwin Y Shwe: (+61) 41203 9426

Thataw Kunoo: (+61) 43053 9668

P.O BOX Information

P.O. Box 58 Guildford, Sydney NSW 2161 Australia: Tel: (61-2) 9788 7633; Tel/Fax (61-2) 9632 6248.

P.O Box 679 Mirrabooka, Perth WA 6061Australia: Tel: (61-8) 9349 4073 Fax: (61-8) 93495254.

P.O. Box 1278 Werribee Plaza, Melbourne VIC 3030 Australia: Tel/Fax (61-3) 9734 0400.

P.O. Box 421 Zillmere, Brisbane QLD 4034 Australia: Tel: (61-7) 3205 7039.

P.O. Box 982 Mawson, Canberra ACT 2607 Australia; Tel: (61-2) 6296 7191.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

Recent Activities

Multicultural celebration event, Victoria

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

On the 29th March our AKO Australia Karen Organisation in Victoria members were invited to participate in an event called Global Pathway at Trinity College. We were able to show primary school children our traditional performances, instruments and our way of living in our Karen State. There were over 248 teachers and students that can to our station showing interest in our culture. As we engaged with the students and teachers, we realised many of them were surprised.

We were able to get to teachers and students to participate in dancing and playing the drums. In the end the organiser of the workshop came and reported back to us on how the majority of students was mesmerised by our culture display and performances.

Karen New Year (era 2756) Celebration (Queensland)

Karen New Year (era 2756) Celebration (Queensland)

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

Among many of the Karen’s ceremonial events the Karen New Year Eve is considered to be a very significant social and traditional event, widely commemorated around the world by the Karen people. Historically, the Karen New Year Eve is relative recent and it was first officially celebrated in the year of 1938. The occasion is held on the first of the month of Therlay (January) in accordance with the Karen calendar year.

For the Karen community living in Queensland, united under the leadership of the Australian Karen Organisation (AKO), the event is held every year in a most fashionable way. As the number of our Karen community members grow in size every year the event has become a very vibrant and elaborate ceremonial event which attract many other community members to join us in the celebration. Each year the celebration is held at a different location since the Karen community in Brisbane is geographically expanded between North and South, therefore the event is routinely held between the Northern and Southern suburb of Brisbane yearly.

This year, 2017 the event was held at North side of Brisbane at (add…) and there were over 600 attendees including guests from other community members and community organisations, such as MDA, QPAST. This year it had been a successful year for our Karen community living in Brisbane and we took pride in making this event ever grow bigger and stronger. This year celebration agenda includes several activates, such as Karen traditional dance called Doe Dace organised by South siders and the children Doe Dace initiated by the North siders. Doe Dace is a form of performance which has widely known as traditional and symbolic for the unity of the Karen people across the globe. In the ceremony there were several guest speakers from other community leaders and community organisation representatives, songs performance presented by youth department, women department and other talented individual youngsters from the community. There were also award presentation, mainly sport activities that usually happened one to two weeks prior to the actual celebration date. In the sport competition there were many groups and various sport activities, such as man and women soccer groups, cane ball and men and women volleyball teams. As always, refreshment and food prepared by community members and served by youth followed after the celebration.

Karen New Year (era 2756) Celebration (Perth, WA)

Karen New Year (era 2756) Celebration (Perth, WA)

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

The Karen Community in Perth celebrated the Karen New Year on the 29th December 2016, the 1st Thalay 2756 in Karen. They estimated that one-thousand people attended the event. The people who attended were mostly Karen people from Western Australia (WA). Also, there were many Karen people from the eastern side of WA that attended the Karen New Year. The Minister of Parliament (MP) of WA were invited as a guest speaker on the day.

The event ran from 10am to 2pm. During the celebration, the MP gave a brief speech as well as Karen New Committee, followed by few group songs from the churches. Four groups of Karen traditional Don Dance performance was well organised by the Australia Karen Organisation (AKO) WA which went as planned. They presented gifts to people who were over the age of 70 years during the event. During the Don Dance, they served lunch to everyone. The meals that was served were Karen and Burmese curry. Everyone was pleased with the celebration of Karen New Year. The amount of people that came to celebrate the Karen New Year in 2756 was fantastic. The event was organised by social groups, religious groups and political groups of WA.

Karen New Year (era 2756) Celebration (Melbourne, Victoria)

Karen New Year (era 2756) Celebration (Melbourne, Victoria)

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

The 2756 Karen New Year celebration in Werribee Victoria was celebrated successfully on the 29th December 2016. This Year, the event was held at Werribee Baptist Church, with over 500 attendees. Karen New Year is an annual event celebrated on the first day of the month Pyathoe (Therlay in Sgaw Karen or Htike Kauk Po in Pwo Karen) on the Karen calendar. This was an opportunity to proudly showcase varieties of the Karen Cultural traditions. Nonetheless, it was no exception this year.

In Karen culture, music and dance plays a vital role, therefore, during this event these attributes were proudly demonstrated. This included the Don Dance performances by AKO (Australian Karen Organisation) and AKP (Australian Karen Preserving) Youth. Also, a Bamboo Dance by Geelong Youth was presented. There was a song by Geelong Youth that demonstrated the importance of Karen people uniting. A special guest who is a singer from Melbourne Mr Eh Mwee, sang a song called “welcome to Aussie”; a beautiful yet meaningful song that highlights the beautiful body of Karen and Australian cultures.

There was a Karen Culture Show that showcased traditional clothing and baskets. This opportunity displayed the uniqueness of traditional costumes, with admiration of the workmanship put into each handcrafted pieces.

An award ceremony was included for students who had attended Karen School. The students had recently participated in a poem competition, which required them to write about Karen New Year. This was in honour of the event. Other events that took place was the Karen New Year soccer tournament, featuring various teams from around Victoria.

As always, the Karen Women’s group worked tirelessly to prepare tasty and delicious Karen traditional food. This was served by AKO Youth to conclude the celebration, and was enjoyed by all attendees.

This event was passionately organised to ensure that no matter where Karen people live, important traditions are upheld for future generations.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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AKO >> Cultural Promotion

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

AKO aims to maintain and promote Karen culture within the Australian multicultural community. The organisation proudly has a cultural department in each state. Young people are encouraged to learn their traditional music and dances, and to be proud of their cultural identity. Don Dance and Bamboo Dance are the most well-known Karen dances. The Karen harp is a traditional harp training from time to time. These performances in Karen cultural events and in multicultural events help celebrate multiculturalism in Australia.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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AKO >> Language & Education

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

As a small community, Karen people are aware of the importance of maintaining their language and literacy. Karen elders found it very difficult to learn English, while young people are learning the language rapidly. English has even become their native tongue. Keeping our culture and language alive will reinforce our children’s identity. Children benefit from learning to value their roots and their culture. Children need to be taught to embrace their differences and uniqueness while proudly own their Karen identity. AKO has been encouraging parents to teach the Karen language. Karen classes have been organised on the summer holiday, however, the AKO committees are now trying to change Karen class to every week. During the year, teachers would volunteer from the community to make this change possible.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

AKO >> Advocacy and Settlement support

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

AKO has been advocating Karen refugee’s issues and struggles to Australia, both locally and at a federal level. Resettlement of Karen refugees to Australia is proposed through the humanitarian and refugee program. The majority of Karen refugees have arrived to Australia with visa class 202, 200 and 204. AKO assisted the new arrival, especially with visa class 202, with initial settlement needs, such as: meeting new arrivals at the airport, registering with Centrelink and Medicare, school enrolments, assisting with temporary and permanent accommodations, connecting with the local community groups and using public transport. AKO also assisted with ongoing needs such as, issues with utilities bills, real-estate agents, banking, liaising with school, health services and legal services.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

AKO >> Sports & Recreation

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

Sport is an important activity for youth with opportunities to socialise and build friendship among young people. AKO organises soccer tournaments twice a year especially during New Year celebration and the Wrist Tying ceremony. Many teams register and played against each other to win the AKO cup. Not only Karen community teams but also teams from other local ethnic groups participated in these sport events. Indoor volleyball and cane ball matches, mini track and field are also organised for community in celebrating major events. Fun event and outing activities are also organised occasionally to bring the community together.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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AKO >> Events

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

Karen New Year and Karen Wrist Tying ceremonies are the main secular events that Karen citizens celebrate every year. The Wrist Tying ceremony is a traditional event that Karen people have been practicing over decades. It was passed onto us by our ancestors. It used to be a ritual unity event in old days from our Animist ancestors, however it is now celebrated in a way that is keeping the culture alive for our new generation. It is celebrated in Laku (Karen month) which falls around August.

New Year is a time to farewell the past year and welcome the year ahead. The Karen calendar is based on lunar months. However, the particular time is chosen by our Ancestors after the completion of harvest time. It celebrates the consumption of new crops after a long year of hard work on farms and paddy fields. The day of Karen New Year falls on the 1st of Thalay (Karen month) which is usually around the end of December or early of January.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

AKO >> National Karen Youth Seminar, Australia

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

The National Karen Youth Seminar is a biennial event which is held in Australia since 2000. The event has come about after the leaders of the AKO believed that there is a need for the youth in Australia to be exposed to the idea of culture maintenance, political awareness, being aware of Karen values and customs. It is to uphold and maintain Karen values and traditions and at the same time to adapt to Australian culture, values, and its rules and regulations.

The National Karen Youth Seminar was held alternatively between VIC and NSW in early years in a small group. But as the years progressed, the number of participants has increased due to the arrival of Karen refugees from Thai-Burma border across Australia under Australian refugee settlement program.

The aim and objectives of the seminar were to;

  1. To promote and facilitate networking among the Karen youth in Australia
  2. To empower the Karen community in Australia
  3. To equip and empower for future Karen leadership
  4. To maintain and promote Karen tradition and Culture
  5. To strengthen Karen national value and beliefs
  6. To raise awareness about the Karen situation

8th National Karen Youth Seminar's video clip (like & share)

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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An overview of the Karen people

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

Karen people are well known as the indigenous people of Burma and second largest ethnic group after the majority Burman. Karen people mostly live in the western Burma region (Delta), Rangoon, Pa Gu divisions and eastern Burma, along Thai Burma border. They can be found, also in northern and southern Thailand as well.

Karen people are very optimistic, love their land and value peace. However, they have been oppressed by the ruling Burmese military junta for over sixty years. They have been tortured, killed, forced to be military slaves, punished and otherwise mistreated. Moreover, their villages are attacked, burnt down to ash and women raped. Consequently, they have to flee to the neighboring country of Thailand to seek protection in refugee camps. There are over 140,000 Karen refugees, currently residing in seven refugee camps in Thailand and larger numbers living in regions inside of Burma along its eastern border as internally displaced people after fleeing into the jungle to escape the random brutality of the Burmese military.

Karen refugees started arriving in Brisbane in 2006 after the Thai government allowed them to resettle into Western countries as part of the humanitarian resettlement program of the UNHCR. The number of Karen in Brisbane and Logan city is now over 700 persons. The Australian Karen Organization Inc, Queensland Branch (AKO-Qld) was formed in late 2006; a few months after some Karen families were resettled into Brisbane. The youth and women’s sub committees were formed a year later. The AKO (Qld Branch) is committed to work as the representative of the Karen community in the Community Relations Commission and other cultural and social organisations.

[source taken from https://akoqld.org.au]

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

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The establishment of Australian Karen Organisation

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

The Burmese military ruling regime has used the four cuts operation in the eastern Karen State since 1976 against Karen National Union (KNU). This operation is also known as Scorched Earth, or the Scorched intervention military tactic. It commences annually as the "dry season offensive" against the country's ethnic nationalities. Since 1996, over 3200 villages in eastern Burma had been destroyed and forcibly relocated or abandoned.

The Burmese military has persuaded some of the Buddhist Karen under one of the Karen monk and created Democratic Karen Buddhist Organisation (DKBO) and formed the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), who is a politically naive group with very limited political and general knowledge. Their propaganda is that the KNU is a Christian organisation working solely for its own benefit. Moreover, the DKBA leaders were misled by the SPDC's promise that “If there is no Marnerplaw (the KNU headquarters), the Rangoon government will withdraw all their troops from the Karen State and within six months, would be installed the DKBO as government and handed over all political power to them to rule their own Karen State".

Since then, the Burmese army and DKBA combined troops and attacked Wanka, where KNU's base caved. During January and around February 1996, the Burmese and DKBA combined troops attacking with mortar shellings and burning down Karen refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border at Maeramu, Bawnaw, Shoklo, Kamawlayko and Hwaykaloke, where tens of thousands of Karen refugees lived. Within the 15 months the Shoklo and Hway Kaloke camp were burnt down twice despite the UN and Human rights commission (Human rights council) having passed repeatedly resolutions condemning Burma's military regime for human rights abuses each year since 1990.

A working committee was first formed in 1996 embodying themselves as the Australian Karen Organisation (AKO) to make representations, and bring to the attention of the world community the plight of the thousands of refugees that were being driven out of their homes to the Burma-Thai border.

The committee operated as organisation giving priority to the urgent matters and situations that they had, and their fellowmen were experiencing.

The AKO's objectives were to express their concern and disapproval of the deterioration of the living standards and denial of basic human rights and injustices that their fellow Karens and others were suffering at the hands of the military authorities in Burma. The AKO have organised themselves, joining together to show their solidarity, and to continue the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Burma.

When the news of the Burmese army's attack on Karen Refugee camps circulated, the Karens all over Australia held a teleconference and agreed for the AKO to meet with the Australian Foreign Affairs Officials. The first Karen protest against the Burmese army's attacks on Karen Refugee camp at the Thai-Burma Border was in front of Burmese embassy, Canberra on the 17 February 1997. Subsequently AKO's delegation (consisting of Karen delegates from Perth, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne) met with the Australian Foreign Officials, after the Karen protest. Following meeting with Australian Foreign Officials, the Karens held another meeting at Canberra to discuss the drafted AKO constitution, and made suggestions to seek advice from the Karen National Union (KNU) to gain perspective of the overseas Karen needs.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

The establishment of Basic Karen Language School in Queensland

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

Background

Mission

The establishment of the Karen Language program in Brisbane is to advance the knowledge and understand of our young people the importance of our Karen tradition, culture and language. Most of the Karen people are from Thailand refugee camp, many of us have resettled in Brisbane since the year 2005 and our community has increasingly grown in numbers ever since. Living in a diverse multicultural society it is in our community interest to promote and create a harmonious community, promoting Australia cultural values by way of providing our children and young adults an opportunity to come together on a weekend during school terms to socialise, to learn and speak the language of our ancestors.

Mission

The Karen Language program is for all Karen children and young adults who are keen and have a strong will to wanting to speak, read and write their mother tongue as well as having mastered the English language. Our ultimate goal of creating a Karen Language program in our community is to pass down our identity, cultural value and ancestor knowledge to our young generation. As a community our main concern is our children are becoming less able to communicate with parents and elders in their mother tongue. Undeniably, replacing our ancestor language with a more predominantly spoken one seems very reasonable for many but we believe that what makes Australia a nation is diversity and language diversity is as important in its way as national identity and as biological diversity.

AKO

https://ako.org.au

Australian Karen Organisation

tDpBxhv,XRunD'Duvkmu&X

AKO (WA) Traditional 'Done dance' Team Expands

AKO | Australian Karen Organisation

Jan 2016 saw the best year yet in Karen traditional dance at Karen New Year in Western Australia. With widespread social media and community newspaper coverage for the AKO (WA) group last year, this year the team aims to go one better. Last year AKO (WA) had great feedback from the WA Karen community for the group, and this year they are aiming to take the next step in Karen culture performance.

The adult group will expand from 8 to 16 performers, and instead of using digital background music, the traditional format of drums, cymbals and the dancers singing will be used. The team also have the benefit of Saw Htoo Paung's experience instructing the adult men this year and the results are showing. This year AKO (WA) also has an under 18's team of 10 which will also dance to traditional drum, and singing etc, an under 12's team made up of 10 boys and 10 girls, and an under 10's team of 5 children. Promoting Karen culture will continue to be a focal point for the Karen community in Western Australia, particularly as AKO continues to expand.