Also known as the Kayah State, Karenni State is a sliver of mountainous land 11,738 km2 situated along the course of the Salween River on the eastern border of Myanmar (Burma), adjacent to Thailand. This is the home of the Karenni people, members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation.

The Karenni people are of Mongolian origin, though they settled in the region as long ago as 739 BC. Their population is somewhere around 300,000 (estimates vary +/- 50k). Official languages are Karenni and English. As estimated 65% of Karennis are Christian. Their flag is a set of three horizontal stripes: blue - white - red, with a five-pointed white star in the top left. The capital is at Loikaw, and some of the major villages are: Shadaw, Deemawso, Mawchi, Pasaung, and Bawlake.

Burma has been in a state of perpetual civil war since it won independance from the British Empire in 1948. Six months after independance the Burmese army invaded the Karenni State and took possession of the Karenni National Organization (KNO) headquarters in Myat Leh village on August 9th. Resistance has continued to this day.

For much of its recent history Myanmar has been ruled by a military junta which ruthlessly suppresses the pro-democracy movement. Seven ethnic minority states within the Myanmar Union are frequently the target of brutal oppressive tactics perpetuated by the acting government, as many of these areas contain seperatist movements and armed militias. In Karenni some such groups are the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO), and Karen National Union (KNU).

The tatmadaw (Myanmar armed forces) have forcibly relocated over 30,000 civilians in the last decade to designated sites as part of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) "Four Cuts" counter-insurgency strategy. Numerous other allegations of abuse, including forced labour, torture, and executions have been levelled. Thousands have fled to refugee camps across the border in Thailand.
According to Amnesty International Reports 1997, the Karenni people belong to the most targeted communities in Burma (together with Karen, Shan and Mon). During the wave of forced relocations from 1996, it is estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 Karenni lost everything – homes, land and belongings most of them ended up in relocation camps in the state, while some 7,000 others have fled to refugee camps in Thailand.

Or if you'd like to hear what the rigidly controlled government newspaper has to say:
Without having any bias against any race, the Government has been laying down and implementing plans for harmonious development of all the national races based on parental love and goodwill.


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