The Karen people are an ethnic minority in South East Asia. They live mainly in Myanmar (Burma) and east Thailand.
In Myanmar, Karen civilians
s are targeted by the army, called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). The government
also promised the US
Company Unocal and French
company Total that a pipeline
would be built across southern Myanmar. The government has used enforce
ment agencies (such as the SPDC) to force
Karen people (and other Burmese minorities) into slave labour
. They are also constantly relocate
d from their villages, and their rainforest
environment is being destroy
Around 70, 000 Karen are refugees in camps on the Thai/Burmese border.
Johnny and Luther Htoo, the famous 12 year old guerrilla leaders of God's Army, were Karen people, fighting against the SPDC. Although God's Army is no longer in existence, there is still the Karen National Union (KNU) guerrilla group. This group have only 6000 fighters however, and few resources, so they are unable to do much for the Karen people.
One particular story I have heard about the Karen people’s mistreatment was told to me by a refugee I met at my school. He was living in his grandmother’s house, in a south Burmese village. The army forced it’s way into the village, wreaking havoc. Some soldiers entered the grandmother’s house, and placed an artillery gun at the grandmother’s window, instructing her to ‘leave it alone’. They then walked out. So the grandmother and little boy were left with a large gun in their lounge. Of course, this little boy, being a little boy, had a lot of fun with this mysterious gun.