November 11, 2007

Karens and their newspapers: A Historical View


Earliest Publications:

As a popular saying that goes, "the newspaper is the eyes and ears of a nation," the news media is of prime importance for the advancement of a nation. The progress of a nation can be measured in terms of the news organs owned and published by that nation.

The "SAH TU GAW" (Morning Star) newspaper was published in 1841 and it was the first of its kind in the annals of the history of Burma newspaper printed in Sgaw Karen and English and later in Sgaw Karen alone till the beginning of World War II as a monthly publication. There was a temporary closing down during the Japanese era. Within a few months after the British re-occupation of Burma, it was again published in Karen and Burmese. However, soon after Ne Win assumed power, the first and pioneering indigenous newspaper was forcefully closed down by the military regime.

In 1881 Dr. T. Than Bya and his colleagues formed the Karen National Association (KNA). In 1885 the "DAW KALU" newspaper in Karen and "FAIR PLAY" in English were published by the KNA. This news circulation stopped after the decease of Dr. T. Than Bya.

In 1915, Thra Kah Ser from Shwe Gyin, with the help of his colleagues published the "SAH TU HAH " (EVENING STAR) newspaper. This publication ceased in about the year 1925.

Karen Newspaper Before The Second World War:

(1) Thra G. A. Tudee published privately a Sgaw Karen monthly news periodical "THE SHEPHERD." It was handed over to the Karen Baptist Mission due to financial difficulties. This monthly flourished till the beginning of World War II.

(2) A weekly private newspaper published by Thra Hla Kyaw of Rangoon, the "RECORDER" was circulated until the beginning of the Second World War.

(3) The "CHILDREN'S FRIEND" the voice of Rangoon Karen Christian Endeavour Association was also a monthly news organ published by Thra Pan of Insein.

(4) The "TAW MEH PAH", a non-religious weekly news organ was published by Sir San C. Po of Bassein.

(5) The "KAREN MAGAZINE" was published by Thra San Ba. This was a monthly magazine with current news articles, stories, tit-bits of fun, cartoons, photographs, ancient Karen "HTA" verses and poetry.

(6) "THE BULLETIN" was published by the Insein Karen Seminary once in three months' time. This paper included articles on health and social welfare besides religion.

(7) "THE SUNRISE" was a monthly news periodical issued by the Toungoo Anglican
Church. This paper had news of national affairs, social welfare and religion.

(8) The "TAW HSOO NYA" (Advance Forward), later known as "Leh Hsoo Nya" (Go Forward) edited and published by S'ra Tun Aung (Father of Mahn James Tun Aung) was monthly news periodical in Pwo Karen.

Karen News Periodicals after World War II:

(1) The "ETHNIC PEOPLE'S JOURNAL" ( Taing Yin Tha ) was a monthly issue in Burmese with a stand against "Imperialism" and "Feudalism". This paper was edited by Mahn Win Maung who later became an instrument of the AFPFL and an opponent to the KNU and the Karen national cause.

(2) The "THU WUNNA TAING" (The Golden Land) was published in 1947. It was the voice of the KNU, the most famous publication that bravely stood against the Burmese Chauvinist policies and the AFPFL regime, which instituted a slander campaign against the Karen people. This newspaper had firmly rallied the Karens. The publication ceased due to the outbreak of the armed revolution by Karens.

(3) "GO FORWARD" a monthly news issue, first published by Thra Raleigh Dee of Insein and then later taken over by the Karen Baptist Mission is still in circulation.

(4) "OUR HOME" a monthly women's journal is supervised by Thramu Edith Pyu and is still in circulation. This journal contains domestic science, literature and health for women.

(5) "THE LIGHT" was published by a young Karen named Saw Lawder Dwe. Although this news organ had been outstanding for the Karen Youth, due to the one-sided support of Moosso Hunter Tha Hmwe it had been liquidated along with Moosso's clique by Ne Win's military regime.

(6) " THE KAREN VANGUARD JOURNAL " was supervised and published by a group of Karen Youths from the Rangoon University. This publication being a progressive and nationalist in character was liquidated when Ne Win's Military regime took over power.

Compiled from The KNU BULLETIN, No. 2 January 1986.

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