The Karen are an ethnic minority of Myanmar and live mainly in the Eastern region of Kayin along the Thai border. The Karen minority makes up approximately 7% of the Burmese population. The Karen movement, led mainly by the Karen National Union, have since 1949 waged one of the longest wars against the central Burmese government, seeking first independence but also, since the seventies, a federal system where the autonomy and rights of ethnic minorities would be respected. During this long conflict, numerous Karen sought refuge in Thailand where over 100,000 refugees still live in refugee camps along the border and in the cities. Karen insurgent groups control large swatches of territory in Eastern Kayin State along the Thai border and try very hard to organise their territory by providing health and education services while keeping military forces ready to defend their territory and freedom.
Since the Military Coup of February 2021, combats have been widespread between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the Myanmar military regime. Since May 2021 many young Burmese people from lower Myanmar and Yangon have joined Karen controlled areas in Kayin to escape arrest and persecution because of their opposition to the regime. Many have been trained in military warfare and have since formed People Defense Force units to fight alongside the KNLA and other ethnic minority armies against the Myanmar military regime. As in other parts of the country, where there is a strong resistance to the regime, many airstrikes have targeted civilian populations and convoys of fleeing civilians towards the Thai border. As a result of these strikes, many people have been stuck in makeshift camps in the jungle along the Thai border in Myanmar as Thai authorities do not allow the extension or addition of new refugee camps since the onslaught caused by the military coup of February 2021.

Karen Armed Groups

Karen Armed Groups

Karen Population Moved Again

Karen Population Moved Again

Resisting the Military Coup

Resisting the Military Coup

The Karen, another Burmese Minority

The Karen, another Burmese Minority