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Karenni (Kayah) State

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Karenni Profile
Description/subject: "Like many ethnic classifications in Burma, ‘Karenni’ is a collective term constructed during the colonial era that does not represent a single ethnic group. Karenni, sometimes also known as the Red Karen (so-called because it was a favoured colour in traditional clothing) or Kayah, actually refers to a Karen grouping which includes a number of ethnic groups that speak related Tibeto-Burman languages such as Kekhu, Bre, Kayah, Yangtalai, Geba, Zayein and Paku. Their exact numbers are difficult to assert because of the absence of reliable statistics: one plausible estimate is that they may number some 250,000 people. In Kayah State where many Karenni are concentrated, sandwiched between Shan State to the north-west and Karen State to the south-west, the Karenni represented some 56 per cent of the state population of about 259,000 in the official census of 1983 (which is deemed unreliable by many observers). There is also a sizeable Kayah-speaking population in Shan State. It is generally thought that most Karennis are Christians, though a large percentage of the population is Buddhist. ..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Minority Rights Group
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.minorityrights.org/4495/myanmarburma/karenni.html
Date of entry/update: 21 August 2014


Individual Documents

Title: THE STATE OF LOCAL GOVERNANCE: TRENDS IN KAYAH
Date of publication: December 2014
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Kayah State has experienced some important changes over the last few years that have a direct impact on the livelihood situation of its people. Since 2011, the hostilities between the Karenni National Progressive Party and its Karenni Army on the one hand and the Government of Myanmar on the other hand have gradually subsided, resulting in a cease fire agreement that was signed in June 2013 between the two parties. This contributed to a more peaceful situation in the State and led to an intensification of both economic activities and social services provided by the Government. During the same period the Government of Myanmar has made a start with its administrative reform with the objective of improving service delivery, engaging people more actively in governance processes and becoming a “cleaner” government. This report outlines the results of the Local Governance Mapping conducted by UNDP in Kayah State. Based on the perceptions of the people and local governance actors, the mapping has tried to capture some key aspects of the current dynamics of governance at the frontline of state-citizen interaction and focuses in its analysis on participation in public sector planning, access to basic services and accountability in local governance. In consultation with the Kayah State government, it was agreed that the Local Governance Mapping would be conducted in three townships, namely, Loikaw, Hpruso and Mese between April and August 2014. Together, these three townships are representative for the diversity in economic activities and living conditions found in Kayah State. Loikaw is the capital Township of Kayah. It is more urban in character, it has by far the largest population of all townships in Kayah State, hosts most State government institutions, and is economically the best developed township in the State. Hpruso Township has a more rural character, is less populated as Loikaw, but since it is easy to reach and close to Loikaw it is relatively prosperous, and basic social services are still easily available. Mese Township finally is the most remote and smallest township in the State with a traditional rural character and a low population density. It has experienced more than any of the other townships the negative impact of the armed conflict in the past and has a result been rather isolated and experienced a backlog in services provided by government, which it is now trying to catch up on..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: UNDP Myanmar
Format/size: pdf (2MB)
Alternate URLs: http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNDP_MM_LG_Mapping_Kayah_web.pdf
Date of entry/update: 02 February 2015


Title: Living Ghosts - The spiraling repression of the Karenni population under the Burmese military junta
Date of publication: March 2008
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "The people of Karenni State are living ghosts. Their daily survival is an achievement; however, it also signifies their further descent into poverty and a spiralling system of repression. Whilst this report documents the deteriorating situation in Karenni State over the past six years, this is nothing new for the ethnically diverse population of this geographically small area. They have been living in a protracted conflict zone for over 50 years with no respite from decades of low-intensity conflict and frequent human rights abuses. All the while both State and Non-State actors have marginalised the grassroots communities’ voices, contributing to the militarisation of their communities and societies. Burmese soldiers oppress Karenni villagers on a daily basis. Villagers are isolated from members of their own communities, and other ethnic groups; they report daily to local Burmese troops about Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) troop movements and other activities in their areas; community members spy on one another, reporting back to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); and they are punished by the SPDC in retaliation for the actions of the KNPP. All of these strategies create an environment of fear and mistrust between ethnic groups, communities, and even family members. These tactics successfully oppress the villagers, as they are too fearful and busy to think beyond daily survival. Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that villagers face oppression not only from the Burmese army, but also ceasefire groups and the KNPP. Soldiers from both the KNPP and ceasefire groups physically maltreat villagers and undermine their livelihoods. While these occurrences are certainly less frequent and less severe than similar acts by the SPDC, they still oppress the civilian population and undermine their ability and capacity to survive. Additionally the presence of many different actors has resulted in the militarisation of Karenni State. Thousands of landmines have been indiscriminately planted throughout the state, without adequate mapping or markings to minimise civilian causalities. The SPDC, ceasefire groups and the KNPP all recruit and have child soldiers in their armies. The Burmese army has the largest number of child soldiers anywhere in the world, and approximately 20 per cent of the KNPP’s troops are under 18 (the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces under Burma’s national law). The increased militarisation of Karenni State has resulted in increases in human rights abuses. However villagers are staging their own non-violent resistance movement. They have developed and implemented a number of early warning systems and household and village-wide risk management strategies so as to minimise the impact of the SPDC and other armed groups violence and abuses. These resistance strategies have become the biggest threat to local and regional authorities; consequently the villagers are increasingly becoming the targets of hostilities from the Burmese army. Most people in Karenni State rely on agriculture as their primary source of income and are living a subsistence existence. Despite the villagers’ best efforts to secure their livelihoods, their ability and capacity to do so is constantly undermined by the SPDC and, to a lesser extent, ceasefire groups and the KNPP via crop procurement, forced production of dry season crops, arbitrary taxation and fines, theft and destruction of property and food, forced labour and land confiscation. This is further exacerbated by the drought that has been occurring in Karenni State for the past decade, which affects crop yields. When coupled with skyrocketing commodity prices, villagers’ ability to ebb out a living is further eroded – to the point of impossibility in some cases. The abject poverty in Karenni State prevents villagers from accessing basic health and education services. Whilst the SPDC claims to provide free health care and education, in reality this does not occur. Health and education services provided by the state are extremely expensive and are well-below international standards. As a result, for most people education and medical treatment becomes a luxury they simply cannot afford. As a result of poverty some villagers are turning to illegal activities in order to survive - mainly poppy production. In Karenni State there are two areas where villagers are growing poppies with the permission of ceasefire groups. Farmers can earn a significantly higher monetary return on their poppy yields than for other crops using the same quantity of land. Poppy growers can earn up to 300,000 Kyat per 1.5 kilogram package of raw opium they produce (a 1.5 kilogram package of raw opium can be produced in four months). A teacher supported by the SPDC would have to work for 60 months in order to earn the same amount. Additionally amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) are being produced in Karenni State. Three factories producing ATS in Karenni State have been identified, again in areas controlled by ceasefire groups; however as it is difficult to distinguish between factories and ordinary dwellings it is possible that there are many other ATS factories in Karenni State that have not been identified. Each factory can produce between 250,000 and 300,000 pills per month. From the three known factories in Karenni State between 9 million and 10.8 million ATS pills are being produced and released into the international drug market each year. Today over a quarter of the population in Karenni State have been forced from their homes as a direct result of the actions of the Burmese military junta. Between 70 and 80 per cent of those displaced are women and children. Displacement has increased 42 per cent since 2002 and represents eight per cent of the total population in Karenni State. Karenni State has the highest level of displacement to population ratio in all of eastern Burma. When similar comparisons are made to the five countries with the largest displaced populations in the world (Sudan, Colombia, Uganda, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo) the percentage of displaced persons in Karenni State is alarmingly higher. Over 12 per cent of Sudan’s population is displaced – less than half that of Karenni State. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern Burma receive very little assistance, if any at all, primarily due to the policies of the SPDC, which severely restrict humanitarian agencies accessing these vulnerable populations. The SPDC deems IDPs as enemies of the state and implements a shoot on sight policy, which includes children and the elderly. IDPs are vulnerable to human rights abuses, exploitation and violence from the SPDC, as well as food shortages and have severely limited access to education and health care services. The most pressing need of the people and the IDP population is physical security. Most people have the capacity to earn a livelihood mitigating food shortages, to educate their children, establish a medical clinic and develop their communities; however, they lack the security necessary to do so. There are humanitarian organisations working in Karenni State, including local community based organisations (CBOs), nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and international agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme. Despite this presence the humanitarian situation in Karenni State continues to deteriorate and people are finding themselves slipping further and further into the poverty abyss – with no foreseeable escape. The impacts from the situation in Karenni State are not confined to the State’s boundaries - they spill over into other states and divisions in Burma and also across international borders, especially into Thailand. These spill over effects include, but are not limited to: the mass exodus of people from Burma to neighbouring countries as refugees and migrant workers; illegal trafficking of drugs and people and associated health concerns, especially HIV/AIDS. These non-traditional security threats impinge on Burma’s neighbours economies and social welfare systems, affecting regional stability and security. The situation in Karenni State cannot be rectified without genuinely addressing Burma’s complex issues, including ethnic chauvinism, in a participatory manner, which engages the whole nation’s citizenry. Only when these issues are truly addressed may the people of Karenni State find peace and start living life for the future, and not as living ghosts."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Issues
Format/size: pdf (666K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmaissues.org/images/stories/pdfreports/livingghosts.pdf
Date of entry/update: 05 April 2008