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Home > Main Library > Human Rights > Discrimination > Race or Ethnicity: Discrimination based on > Racial or ethnic discrimination in Burma: reports of violations > Racial or ethnic discrimination in Burma: reports of violations against specific groups > Discrimination against the Karenni (Kayah)

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Discrimination against the Karenni (Kayah)

Individual Documents

Title: The Villagers [in Burma] Don’t Dare to Speak Out: Kayan Refugee
Date of publication: 29 August 2015
Description/subject: "Kataerina, a Kayan (also known as Padaung) woman from Pyin Soung village in southern Shan State, is now 35 years old and has three daughters. Her life seems smooth for now, but it was tough and full of struggles for food, education and freedom. Kataerina’s story echoes so many voices from the people of Burma, who have had to endure child labour and an ongoing struggle for food and basic living standards. From armed conflict to being locked up and nearly killed by Burmese soldiers, Kataerina’s struggles finally led her to the Thailand-Burma border where she now lives in the Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp in Mae Hong Son Province. From Katarina’s story, you can learn more about the difficulties faced by the Kayan people in eastern Burma, where Kataerina hopes she will not be forced to return to."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Link
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 16 March 2016


Title: Living Ghosts - The spiraling repression of the Karenni population under the Burmese military junta
Date of publication: March 2008
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "The people of Karenni State are living ghosts. Their daily survival is an achievement; however, it also signifies their further descent into poverty and a spiralling system of repression. Whilst this report documents the deteriorating situation in Karenni State over the past six years, this is nothing new for the ethnically diverse population of this geographically small area. They have been living in a protracted conflict zone for over 50 years with no respite from decades of low-intensity conflict and frequent human rights abuses. All the while both State and Non-State actors have marginalised the grassroots communities’ voices, contributing to the militarisation of their communities and societies. Burmese soldiers oppress Karenni villagers on a daily basis. Villagers are isolated from members of their own communities, and other ethnic groups; they report daily to local Burmese troops about Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) troop movements and other activities in their areas; community members spy on one another, reporting back to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); and they are punished by the SPDC in retaliation for the actions of the KNPP. All of these strategies create an environment of fear and mistrust between ethnic groups, communities, and even family members. These tactics successfully oppress the villagers, as they are too fearful and busy to think beyond daily survival. Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that villagers face oppression not only from the Burmese army, but also ceasefire groups and the KNPP. Soldiers from both the KNPP and ceasefire groups physically maltreat villagers and undermine their livelihoods. While these occurrences are certainly less frequent and less severe than similar acts by the SPDC, they still oppress the civilian population and undermine their ability and capacity to survive. Additionally the presence of many different actors has resulted in the militarisation of Karenni State. Thousands of landmines have been indiscriminately planted throughout the state, without adequate mapping or markings to minimise civilian causalities. The SPDC, ceasefire groups and the KNPP all recruit and have child soldiers in their armies. The Burmese army has the largest number of child soldiers anywhere in the world, and approximately 20 per cent of the KNPP’s troops are under 18 (the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces under Burma’s national law). The increased militarisation of Karenni State has resulted in increases in human rights abuses. However villagers are staging their own non-violent resistance movement. They have developed and implemented a number of early warning systems and household and village-wide risk management strategies so as to minimise the impact of the SPDC and other armed groups violence and abuses. These resistance strategies have become the biggest threat to local and regional authorities; consequently the villagers are increasingly becoming the targets of hostilities from the Burmese army. Most people in Karenni State rely on agriculture as their primary source of income and are living a subsistence existence. Despite the villagers’ best efforts to secure their livelihoods, their ability and capacity to do so is constantly undermined by the SPDC and, to a lesser extent, ceasefire groups and the KNPP via crop procurement, forced production of dry season crops, arbitrary taxation and fines, theft and destruction of property and food, forced labour and land confiscation. This is further exacerbated by the drought that has been occurring in Karenni State for the past decade, which affects crop yields. When coupled with skyrocketing commodity prices, villagers’ ability to ebb out a living is further eroded – to the point of impossibility in some cases. The abject poverty in Karenni State prevents villagers from accessing basic health and education services. Whilst the SPDC claims to provide free health care and education, in reality this does not occur. Health and education services provided by the state are extremely expensive and are well-below international standards. As a result, for most people education and medical treatment becomes a luxury they simply cannot afford. As a result of poverty some villagers are turning to illegal activities in order to survive - mainly poppy production. In Karenni State there are two areas where villagers are growing poppies with the permission of ceasefire groups. Farmers can earn a significantly higher monetary return on their poppy yields than for other crops using the same quantity of land. Poppy growers can earn up to 300,000 Kyat per 1.5 kilogram package of raw opium they produce (a 1.5 kilogram package of raw opium can be produced in four months). A teacher supported by the SPDC would have to work for 60 months in order to earn the same amount. Additionally amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) are being produced in Karenni State. Three factories producing ATS in Karenni State have been identified, again in areas controlled by ceasefire groups; however as it is difficult to distinguish between factories and ordinary dwellings it is possible that there are many other ATS factories in Karenni State that have not been identified. Each factory can produce between 250,000 and 300,000 pills per month. From the three known factories in Karenni State between 9 million and 10.8 million ATS pills are being produced and released into the international drug market each year. Today over a quarter of the population in Karenni State have been forced from their homes as a direct result of the actions of the Burmese military junta. Between 70 and 80 per cent of those displaced are women and children. Displacement has increased 42 per cent since 2002 and represents eight per cent of the total population in Karenni State. Karenni State has the highest level of displacement to population ratio in all of eastern Burma. When similar comparisons are made to the five countries with the largest displaced populations in the world (Sudan, Colombia, Uganda, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo) the percentage of displaced persons in Karenni State is alarmingly higher. Over 12 per cent of Sudan’s population is displaced – less than half that of Karenni State. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern Burma receive very little assistance, if any at all, primarily due to the policies of the SPDC, which severely restrict humanitarian agencies accessing these vulnerable populations. The SPDC deems IDPs as enemies of the state and implements a shoot on sight policy, which includes children and the elderly. IDPs are vulnerable to human rights abuses, exploitation and violence from the SPDC, as well as food shortages and have severely limited access to education and health care services. The most pressing need of the people and the IDP population is physical security. Most people have the capacity to earn a livelihood mitigating food shortages, to educate their children, establish a medical clinic and develop their communities; however, they lack the security necessary to do so. There are humanitarian organisations working in Karenni State, including local community based organisations (CBOs), nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and international agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme. Despite this presence the humanitarian situation in Karenni State continues to deteriorate and people are finding themselves slipping further and further into the poverty abyss – with no foreseeable escape. The impacts from the situation in Karenni State are not confined to the State’s boundaries - they spill over into other states and divisions in Burma and also across international borders, especially into Thailand. These spill over effects include, but are not limited to: the mass exodus of people from Burma to neighbouring countries as refugees and migrant workers; illegal trafficking of drugs and people and associated health concerns, especially HIV/AIDS. These non-traditional security threats impinge on Burma’s neighbours economies and social welfare systems, affecting regional stability and security. The situation in Karenni State cannot be rectified without genuinely addressing Burma’s complex issues, including ethnic chauvinism, in a participatory manner, which engages the whole nation’s citizenry. Only when these issues are truly addressed may the people of Karenni State find peace and start living life for the future, and not as living ghosts."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Issues
Format/size: pdf (666K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmaissues.org/images/stories/pdfreports/livingghosts.pdf
Date of entry/update: 05 April 2008


Title: Dammed by Burma's Generals -- The Karenni Experience with Hydropower Development, from Lawpita to the Salween
Date of publication: 14 March 2006
Description/subject: " Threatened with plans by Burma’s generals to dam the Salween River and submerge vast tracts of their homelands, the Karenni are releasing a new report today which exposes the parallels between the devastating impacts of Burma’s first large scale hydropower project, built in their state, and those of the planned Salween dams. The report highlights the destructive mix of development and military rule in Burma. The report by the Karenni Development Research Group (KDRG), Dammed by Burma’s Generals, chronicles the impacts of the Lawpita hydropower project since the early 1960s. Promised abundant electricity and irrigation, the local population instead suffered from forced displacement, water shortages, increased militarization, human rights abuses, and thousands of landmines planted to secure the project. Most of the power was sent directly to Rangoon; still today 80% of the Karenni are without electricity. One of four dams planned for the Salween, the Weigyi Dam, will flood over 640 square kilometers in Karenni State, submerging an area three times the size of the Lawpita reservoir. The report details how twenty-eight towns and villages, including a historical capital of the Karenni, will be inundated, impacting approximately 30,000 people. An entire tribe – the Yintalai, who now number a mere 1,000 – will permanently lose all their homelands. Irreversible environmental damage will be caused by inundation of forests internationally recognized for their outstanding biodiversity. Under an agreement signed in December 2005 between Thailand and Burma’s regime, construction on the Salween dams is slated to begin in 2007. With likely investment from China, the dams will provide electricity for Thailand and revenue for the ruling military regime. As Pascal Khoo Thwe, the Karenni author of From the Land of Green Ghosts says in his foreword to the report: “There is no better way to destroy a country than by the combined power of bulldozers and guns.” Civil war continues in Karenni State, leaving an estimated one third of the population internally displaced and over 22,000 Karenni refugees registered in camps in Thailand. If the Salween dams go ahead, many of these people will never be able to return home. The report urges that the Salween dam projects be scrapped. As KDRG researcher Aung Ngeh states: “We know from bitter experience what hydropower development means under a military dictatorship. It is not about electricity or irrigation for the people. It is about subjugation and control. The Salween dams will mean more soldiers, more landmines, and the gradual annihilation of our people.”"
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karenni Development Research Group
Format/size: pdf (2.64MB) 80 pages
Alternate URLs: http://www.salweenwatch.org/downloads/Dammed.pdf
Date of entry/update: 14 March 2006


Title: Recent reports of SPDC use of Chemical Weapons are consistent with past KHRG Reports
Date of publication: 03 May 2005
Description/subject: "A new report released by CSW alleging the SPDC's use of chemical weapons against Karenni Army (KA) soldiers in February 2005 has once again raised the question of Burma's offensive chemical weapons capability. The symptoms identified in those affected appear to be consistent with exposure to a chemical weapon of some sort. The evidence produced in the CSW report also appears to be consistent with research conducted by KHRG following similar occurrences in Karen State a decade ago, suggesting that the SPDC continues to both manufacture and employ chemical weapons..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG #2005-B4)
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2005/khrg05b4.html
Date of entry/update: 23 May 2005


Title: Drugs, Lies and Videotape
Date of publication: June 2000
Description/subject: Internal conflict and ideological differences have taken their toll on the decades-old Karenni insurgency, but the Karenni National Progressive Party remains one of the few ethnic-based political organizations in Burma still actively engaged in armed resistance against the Rangoon regime. Now, reports Neil Lawrence, the KNPP is facing a new challenge, as opium and other narcotics once confined to neighboring Shan State make their way into territory controlled by Rangoon's Karenni allies.
Author/creator: Neil Lawrence
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 8, No. 6
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Conflict and Displacement in Karenni: the Need for Considered Responses
Date of publication: May 2000
Description/subject: Click on the on the html link above to go to a neater, paginated table of contents or on the pdf links below to go straight to the document .... PDF File 1: Cover and Contents. PDF File 2: Boundaries; Climate; Physical Features; Population; Ethnic Groups in Karenni; Gender Roles in Karenni; Agriculture, Land Distribution and Patterns of Recourse; Resources; Water; Communication, Trade and Transport Conflict in Karenni; A History of Conflict; The Pre-Colonial Period; The Colonial Period; Independence in Burma and the Outbreak of Civil War in the Karenni States; State and Non-State Actors including Armed Groups and Political Parties; The Role of the Tatmadaw; The Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP); The Karenni National Peoples Liberation Front (KNPLF); The Shan State Nationalities Liberation Organisation (SSNLO); The Kayan New Land Party (KNLP; The NDF and CPB Alliances and their Impact in Karenni; War in the Villages; The Formation of Splinter Groups in the 1990s; The Economics of War; The Relationship between Financing the War and Exploitation of Natural Resources; The Course of the War; Cease-fires.... PDF file 3: Conflict-Induced Displacements in Karenni -- Defining Population Movements; Conflict Induced Displacement; Displacement in 1996; Displacements by Township; Relocation Policy; Services in Relocation Sites; Smaller Relocation Sites and so-called Gathering Villages; Displacement into Shan State; Displacement as a Passing Phenomenon; Displacement, Resettlement and Transition; Women outside Relocation Sites. Development Induced Displacement -- Displacements in Loikaw City; Confiscation of Land by the Tatmadaw; Displacement as a Result of Resource Scarcity; Food Scarcity; Water Shortages; Voluntary Migrations. Health and education needs and responses: Health Policy; Health Services; Health Status of the Population; Communicable Diseases; Nutrition; Reproductive and Womens Health; Landmine Casualties; Iodine Deficiency and Goitre; Vitamin A Deficiency; Water and Sanitation; Responses to Health Needs; Education Policy; Educational Services and Coverage; Traditional Attitudes to Education; Educational Services in Karenni; Responses to Educational Needs; Responses from the Thai-Burma border; Responses by International Humanitarian Agencies from Inside Burma. Appendices: A Comparison of Populations in Relocation Sites in Karenni; Refugee Arrivals at the Thai Border; Displacements by Township; Examples of Population Movements.
Author/creator: Vicky Bamforth, Steven Lanjouw, Graham Mortimer
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Ethnic Research Group (BERG)
Format/size: 3 pdf files: (1) Cover and Contents (472K); (2) Text-pp1-47 (782K); 3 Text pp48-128 (1300K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Considered_responses-1.pdf
http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Considered_responses-2.pdf
http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Considered_responses-3.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Human Rights Violations in Burma/Myanmar in 1999
Date of publication: 14 March 2000
Description/subject: Report of an expert fact-finding mission in December 1999. Particularly strong on methodology and the clinical description of torture. Includes high-quality photos. Most interviewed were Karenni or Mon... TOC: Summary; Preface; Introduction; Methods; Ethics; Results; Forced labour; Porter service; Forced relocation; Arrests; Other incidents; Looting; Killings; Rape; Disappearances; Torture; Landmine accidents; Army units; Discussion; Conclusion; Appendix, cases; References; Tables; Figures... "We interviewed and examined 129 persons who had fled Burma / Myanmar from December 1998 to December 1999, and compared the degree of reported human rights violations with that from the previously examined persons who fled November 1996 to November 1997. Of the interviewed persons, 88% reported forced labour and 77% porter service, 54% had been forcibly relocated from their villages, 87% had had their possessions looted, and 46% had lost at least one relative through killing, disappearance, or landmine accident. 20% reported that they or a near relative had been tortured. Of the former, four had remarkable scars that strongly corroborated their histories."
Author/creator: Hans Draminsky Petersen, Lise Worm, Mette Zander, Ole Hartling and Bjarne Ussing
Language: English, Danish
Source/publisher: Amnesty International, Denmark, Danish Medical Group, Danchurchaid.
Format/size: html (1913K), Word (3MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.amnesty.dk (For a Word version to download, click on bibilotek left frame Click on Burma rapport Click on download rapporten Click on rapport po engelsk Word or Text - the Word file is more than 2MB, but the Text version does not have the photos, and the tables are not shown. Danish version also available for download)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Myanmar Aftermath: Three Years of Dislocation in the Kayah State
Date of publication: 30 June 1999
Description/subject: During the first half of 1996, the tatmadaw, or Myanmar armed forces, began a massive relocation program of civilians as part of its counter-insurgency strategy in the Kayah (Karenni) State, eastern Myanmar. 20,000- 30,000 members of the Karenni ethnic minority were forced from their home villages into designated sites, where there was inadequate food, water, medical care, and sanitation facilities necessary for survival. In the last three years hundreds of people have reportedly died of treatable diseases, thousands have fled to Thailand, and still others have chosen to hide in the forest in an attempt to live outside of military control. During February 1999 Amnesty International interviewed dozens of those Karenni civilians who had escaped to Thailand in late 1998 and early 1999. They reported recent widespread incidents of forced labour and portering, arbitrary arrests and torture, and extrajudicial killings by the military, which occurred in the context of the internal displacement of civilians in the Kayah State. Keywords: ethnic groups, indiscriminate killing, forced labour, torture, ill treatment, military, displaced people, refugees, extradudicical execution, farmers. Interviews with Karenni refugees. ... ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: forced resettlement, forced relocation, forced movement, forced displacement, forced migration, forced to move, displaced
Language: English
Source/publisher: Amnesty International
Alternate URLs: http://www.web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/print/ASA160141999?OpenDocument
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Karenni (Kayah) State: Continuing Flight of Villagers to Thailand
Date of publication: 14 April 1999
Description/subject: "In mid-1996 the State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC) military junta ruling Burma broke a ceasefire with the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) by launching a military offensive aimed at gaining complete control over areas of Karenni (Kayah) State near the border with Thailand. To support this military campaign, at the same time the junta launched a mass forced relocation campaign against rural villagers throughout the state, hoping to undermine the KNPP by removing or wiping out the entire civilian population in rural areas. Since then over 200 villages covering at least half the geographic area of the entire state have been forcibly relocated, burned and destroyed by Burmese Army troops under the command of the SLORC, which was renamed the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC) in November 1997. There is no accurate census data available, but most of the villages only have 10 to 50 households and estimates of the number of villagers affected range between 30,000 and 50,000..."...Forced relocation in Karenni. ... ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: forced resettlement, forced relocation, forced movement, forced displacement, forced migration, forced to move, displaced
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (Information Update KHRG 99-U2)
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg99/khrg99u2.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: A Struggle Just to Survive :Update on the Current Situation in Karenni
Date of publication: 12 June 1998
Description/subject: "Since mid-1996 the State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC) military junta, now renamed as the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), has forcibly relocated and destroyed over 200 villages covering at least half the geographic area of Karenni (Kayah) State in eastern Burma. At least 20,000-30,000 people have been displaced, forced to move into military-controlled camps where many of them have been starving and dying of disease, or to flee into hiding in the forest where they face similar suffering as well as the possibility of being shot on sight by SLORC/SPDC patrols. Some have escaped to Thailand but the vast majority are still struggling to survive in the relocation sites or in hiding in the forests near their destroyed villages. There is no sign that their situation will improve anytime soon, as the SPDC continues its campaign aiming at the complete military control of Karenni State and the obliteration of all possibilities of resistance ..." ...... ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: forced resettlement, forced relocation, forced movement, forced displacement, forced migration, forced to move.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Regional & Thematic Reports (KHRG #98-06)
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg98/khrg9806.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Forced Relocation and Human Rights Abuses in Karenni State, Burma
Date of publication: May 1997
Description/subject: This report documents human rights violations carried out by troops from the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) against Karenni people in Karenni (Kayah) State in eastern Burma. Information regarding human rights abuses in the area has come from interviews with Karenni refugees who have fled into Thailand, and with officials from the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP). ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: forced resettlement, forced relocation, forced movement, forced displacement, forced migration, forced to move, displaced
Language: English
Source/publisher: ABSDF
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.geocities.com/absdf_au/public/krnrep.txt
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Human Rights in Northern Karenni (Kayah) State
Date of publication: 10 April 1994
Description/subject: "Early 94. Description of events in North Karenni State and South Shan State by an elected Member of Parliament. Cease-fire talks in Karenni State as a SLORC demand for surrender; forced labour incl. road building, railway guarding,10,000 people on a fishpond project; extortion; inhuman treatmenton forced labour projects; massive confiscation of the best land, on which villagers are forced to do forced labour for SLORC; economic oppression; reprisal economic oppression; threats to get people to go to the USDA rallies..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Regional & Thematic Reports
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg94/94_04_10.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: SLORC Activities in Ler Ba Ko Village
Date of publication: 31 December 1992
Description/subject: "Testimony by a refugee from central Karenni (Kayah) State and List of Villages Relocated in March 1992." "(Northwest Karenni State) List of 76 villages relocated in March 1992. Deemawso and Pruso Townships March, July 92. Karenni men, women: Rape; forced labour incl. portering and work on the Loikaw-Aung Ban railway -- 91); extortion; forced relocation; religious intolerance (the villages were Christian)..." ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS: forced resettlement, forced relocation, forced movement, forced displacement, forced migration, forced to move, displaced
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) Regional & Thematic Reports
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg92/92_12_31b.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Statements by Karenni Refugees
Date of publication: 12 June 1992
Description/subject: "Statement by Karenni refugees fleeing a SLORC ultimatum to all villagers in a large part of the State where the Karenni opposition is strong to leave their villages or die. Their statements describe some of the SLORC army’s activities in civilian villages of western Karenni..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) Regional & Thematic Reports
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg92/92_06_12a.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003