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The Karen, another Burmese Minority

David Verberckt | Karen State and Kayin State, Myanmar

Democratic Karen Buddist Army recruits following a 3 months long training at a military training center in Karen State. Myanmar, November 2018

The Karen are an ethnic minority of Myanmar and live mainly in the Eastern region of Kayin along the Thai border. The Karen minority makes up approximately 7% of the Burmese population. The Karen movement led mainly by the Karen National Union have waged one of the longest war, since 1949, against the central Burmese government seeking first independence but since the seventies a federal system where the autonomy and rights of ethnic minorities would be respected. During this long conflict numerous Karen sought refuge in Thailand where still over a hundred thousand refugees live in refugee camps along the border and in the cities. Karen insurgent groups control large swatches of territory in Eastern Kayin State along the Thai border and try very hard to organise their territory by providing health and education while keeping military forces ready to defend their terrotory and freedom.

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