The Persecuted Minorities in Burma
Burma is a multi-ethnic state. Besides the ethnic Burmese or Burmans there are 7 minority groups living in Burma, which are themselves made of up to 136 ethnicities.
The 8 ethnic groups are: Burman 65%, Shan 10%, Karen 9%, Arakan 5%, Mon 2,5%, Chin 2%, Kachin 1,5%, Karenni 0,8%.
The 7 minority groups live mainly in the mountainous border regions of the country; their settlement areas cover around 65% of Burma.
The conflict between the ruling group of Burmese and the different minorities is as old as the country itself.
With the excuse that only a strong central government would be able to bring peace to the country, the SPDC suppresses the minorities with cruelty and brutality, which some sources even call genocide or ethnic cleansing.
Through their "four cuts policy" the SPDC tries to brutaly assimilate the ethnic groups and minorities of Burma and suppress their language, culture and identity.
The SPDC signed peace agreements with some minorities, which are regularly broken by the generals.
The killing of the minorities in Burma is happening undercover, along the border areas of Burma which are not easily accessible, making the real dimension of the tragedy difficult to document.
The Karen people
The Karen people probably came to Burma in the year 2000 B.C. from Mongolia and reached their settlement area in eastern Burma (their "promised land") via Tibet in the year 1128 B.C..
The Karen Legend has many parallels with the biblical story of the chosen people of Israel. A prophecy told of the arrival of a white man with a golden book. In 1813 the first baptist missionaries arrived and brought a Bible with them.
The Karen are a hill tribe with an old culture and their own language. The main groups are Pwo Karen (Buddhists and Animists) and the Sgaw Karen (Christians). There are an estimated 4.5 Million Karen. Their settlement area is the Karen State Kawthoolei (Sgaw Karen) and the Irrawaddy Delta (Pwo Karen) south-west of Rangoon.
The Karen are one of the most persecuted minorities. Since 1990 around 2.000 villages have been plundered and burnt to the ground. People are randomly tortured and killed, men and youth kidnapped to be forced porters and living mine detectors, women systematically raped.
Hundreds of thousands of Karen are on the run, many fleeing to Thailand, others hiding in the inaccessible jungle of Burma.
The political wing is the KNU - Karen National Union. The military wing is the KNLA - Karen National Liberation Army.
In 1995 the SPDC united with the splinter group DKBA - Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. The DKBA is now fighting against their own people in the name of the SPDC and took over control in eastern Burma as privileged Border Guard Force.