Karen People And The Karen Language
1. The Karen people are one ethnic group out of over 100 different ethnic groups and sub-ethnic groups within Burma.
2. The term Karen can refer to the Karen people and/or the group of Karen languages.
3. The Karen people are indigenous to the Thailand-Burma border region in Southeast Asia. They live mainly in the Kayah and Karen states.
4. The Karen people are culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse.
5. While most Karen people are Sgaw Karen, there are other Karen cultural and language groups such as Pwo Karen and Bwe Karen.
6. The only Karen languages to have written forms are the southern languages of Pwo and Sgaw, which are written using a Burmese script.
7. Since Burma’s first year of Independence from the British in 1948 the Karen National Liberation Army has been fighting against the Burmese military regime for autonomy and cultural rights.
8. The civil war in Burma has been dubbed as the longest ongoing conflict in the world.
9. Millions of people from Burma, mostly from ethnic populations in the country’s borderlands, have fled armed conflicts due to the Burmese military’s continuous and horrific human rights abuses that have spanned over several decades.
10. Over 140,000 Karen people have fled across the border to Thailand for safety to live in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border.
11. Some refugees have lived confined to the camps in Thailand for 30 years.
12. Figures from 2014 show that there are approximately 120,000 people living in the nine camps along the Thai-Burma border. (The Border Consortium – a humanitarian aid agency that provides food and shelter to refugees)
13. Recent political changes and ceasefires in Burma have resulted in widespread and possibly premature talks of refugee repatriation.
14. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says it will support repatriation if conditions become conducive in the home countries for voluntary returns to take place in safety and dignity.