Glimpses of the Karen insurgency

Kevin in the Zone (Yahoo! News) Myanmar archive screenshot
Screenshot of the Burma section of “Kevin in the Zone”, a Yahoo! News section.

Yahoo! News Kevin Sites, visited Burma in 2006, reporting on the lives of Karen refugees and those in a Karen insurgency group, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). Although the Burma section has not been updated since July 2006, there are many interesting and informative articles. Most interesting, perhaps, are the photo essays (particularly “Fighting a Regime” and “Karen Refugees”) and a myriad of video clips.

The Karen (Kayin in Burmese) are an ethnic group of about 7 million predominantly living in eastern Burma (Pegu and Irrawaddy Divisions and Karen State). They speak one of three dialects of the Karen language, part of the Tibeto-Burman (including Burmese) language family. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Karens are Buddhist or animist, although a significant minority are Christians, mostly of the Baptist sect.

KNLA is the military branch of the Karen National Union, which was founded in 1947 to address the Karen people’s grievances, because under the 1947 Constitution, Karen State did not exist; only Kawthulay (also spelled Kawthoolei), a special region, was defined by the Constitution. Karen State was finally defined by the 1974 Constitution of Socialist Burma. The 60-year-old insurgency still exists along the Burma-Thailand border. An estimated 100,000 Karens have been displaced, according to the UN Human Rights Commission.

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