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200,000 Karen Refugees Produced by

200,000 Karen Refugees in Myanmar

 .c The Associated Press 

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - As many as 200,000 ethnic Karen people have either
been forcibly relocated or are hiding in the jungles of eastern Myanmar to
escape the army, a research group said Saturday. 

More than 30 percent of the population in eastern Myanmar has been uprooted
and displaced, the Burma Ethnic Research Group said in a report. More than
100,000 Karen and others already live in refugee camps inside Thailand, it

The Karen are the second-largest ethnic group in Myanmar after the Burmans,
and have been fighting for autonomy for nearly 50 years. 

There was no immediate comment available from Myanmar's military regime. 

Myanmar was known as Burma until the military government changed the
country's name in 1989. The government claims it has brought peace and
stability to the country by inducing more than a dozen ethnic insurgent
groups to sign cease-fire agreements during the past decade. 

Along with the Karen, more than 300,000 ethnic Shan people also have been
persecuted, the report said. 

``The civilian population in the rural areas has been subjected to a
campaign of terror and displacement by the Burma army,'' the report said. 

Human rights workers have documented gang rapes, torture, summary killings
and forced labor and relocations committed against the Karen by the army. 

Bo Mya, rebel leader of the armed Karen National Union, spoke to refugees
along the Thai-Myanmar border Friday and said he was willing to resume talks
with the government, the Bangkok Post reported Saturday. 

Four previous rounds of negotiations have failed. 

In the past, military officials have defended forced relocations as the
quickest way to cut off support for the armed rebels. 

Although the report provided maps and population tables, researchers
admitted the figures were estimates because access to Karen state is not
permitted by the government. 

AP-NY-05-09-98 1240EDT