Karen people

Karen people

Overview
The Karen or Kayin people (Karen
Karen languages
The Karen languages are tonal languages spoken by some three million Karen people. They are of unclear affiliation within the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Karen languages are written using the Burmese script. The three main branches are Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni and Kayan are related to the...

: Pwa Ka Nyaw Poe or Kanyaw in Sgaw Karen and Ploan in Poe Karen; , kəjɪ̀ɴ lù mjó; , Kariang or Yang), are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma (Myanmar). The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people.
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The Karen or Kayin people (Karen
Karen languages
The Karen languages are tonal languages spoken by some three million Karen people. They are of unclear affiliation within the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Karen languages are written using the Burmese script. The three main branches are Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni and Kayan are related to the...

: Pwa Ka Nyaw Poe or Kanyaw in Sgaw Karen and Ploan in Poe Karen; , kəjɪ̀ɴ lù mjó; , Kariang or Yang), are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma (Myanmar). The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people. A large number of Karen also reside in Thailand, mostly on the Thai-Burmese border. The Karen are often confused with the Red Karen (or Karenni). One subgroup of the Karenni, the Padaung tribe from the border region of Burma and Thailand, are best known for the neck ring
Neck ring
Neck rings are formed with one or more spiral metal coils of many turns worn as an ornament around the neck of an individual. In a few African and Asian cultures neck rings are worn usually to create the appearance that the neck has been stretched. Padaung women of the Kayan people begin to wear...

s worn by the women of this group of people.
Karen legends refer to a 'river of running sand' which ancestors reputedly crossed. Many Karen think this refers to the Gobi Desert
Gobi Desert
The Gobi is a large desert region in Asia. It covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the...

, although they have lived in Burma for centuries. The Karen constitute the biggest ethnic population in Burma after the Bamars and Shans.

Some of the Karen, led primarily by the Karen National Union
Karen National Union
The Karen National Union is a political organisation with an armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army that represents the Karen people of Burma. It operates in Eastern Burma, and has underground networks in other areas of Burma where Karen people live. In Karen, this Karen area is called...

 (KNU), have waged a war against the central government since early 1949. The aim of the KNU at first was independence. Since 1976 the armed group has called for a federal system rather than an independent Karen State.

Distribution


The Karen people live mostly in the hills bordering eastern region and Irrawaddy delta of Burma, primarily in Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

, with some in Kayah State
Kayah State
Kayah State is a state of Myanmar. Situated in eastern Myanmar, it is bounded on the north by Shan State, on the east by Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, and on the south and west by Kayin State. It lies approximately between 18° 30' and 19° 55' north latitude and between 94°40' and 97° 93' east...

, southern Shan State
Shan State
Shan State is a state of Burma . Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma in the west. Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total...

, Ayeyarwady Region, Tanintharyi Region,Bago Division
Bago Division
Bago Region is an administrative region of Burma, located in the southern central part of the country. It is bordered by Magway Region and Mandalay Region to the north; Kayin State, Mon State and the Gulf of Martaban to the east; Yangon Region to the south and Ayeyarwady Region and Rakhine State...

 and in western Thailand.

The total number of Karen is difficult to estimate. The last reliable census of Burma was conducted in 1931. A 2006 VOA
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

 article cites an estimate of seven million in Burma. There are another 400,000 Karen in Thailand, where they are by far the largest of the hill tribes.

Divisions


The Karens have been divided by ethnologists into Red Karen and White Karen.

Red Karen (Kayah)


According to a 1983 census, the Red Karens (Karenni) consist of the following groups: Kayah, Geko (Kayan Ka Khaung, Gekho, Gaykho), Geba (Kayan Gebar, Gaybar), Padaung (Kayan Lahwi), Bres, Manu-Manaus (Manumanao), Yintale, Yinbaw, Bwé, Paku, Shan and Pao. Several of the groups (Geko, Gebar, Padaung) belong to Kayan
Kayan (Burma)
The Kayan are a subgroup of the Red Karen people, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Burma . The Kayan consists of the following groups: Kayan Lahwi , Kayan Ka Khaung , Kayan Lahta, Kayan Ka Ngan...

, a subgroup of Red Karen.

S'gaw Karen


The largest and most widely scattered Karen group. Many live in Yangon Division, Bago Division(Taungoo District, Bago District and Tharyarwaddy District), Mandalay Division(Pyin Oo Lwin and Kalaw), Tanintharyi Division(Myeik and Dawei), Ayeyarwaddy Division(Hintharda District) , East Karen State (Thanton), Kayah State (Mawchi) and Thailand (Chiang Mai Province). S'gaw Karen language is a common language for most of the Karen People. In Karen, S'gaw Karen are called Bar Htee.

Pwo Karen


East Pwo Karen live in western Thailand and Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

, Burma; West Pwo Karen live in Irrawaddy Division, Burma. In Karen, Pwo Karen are called Mo Htee

White Karen


Most of the White Karen live near Pyinmana
Pyinmana
Pyinmana ) is a logging town and sugarcane refinery center in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. The administrative capital of Myanmar was officially moved to a militarized greenfield site two miles west of Pyinmana on November 6, 2005. Pyinmana is approximately north of Yangon...

,Mandalay Division
Mandalay Division
Mandalay Region is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is located in the center of the country, bordering Sagaing Region and Magway Region to the west, Shan State to the east, and Bago Region and Kayin State to the south. The regional capital is Mandalay. In the south of the division lies...

. S'gaw and Pwo Karen are not White Karen. In Karen, White Karen are called Ka Nyaw Wah.

Paku Karen


Paku Karen live in Taungoo, Bago Division, Kayah State, Mawchi and east Kayin State, Thandong. Paku Karen Baptist Association
Paku Karen Baptist Association
Paku Karen Baptist Association, also known as Paku Kayin Baptist Association was founded in 1856 by the American Baptist Mission.With the departure of American Baptist missionaries from Myanmar, the Association has been entirely staffed by nationals. After the PKBA reconstituted, the first...

 is headquartered in Taungoo.The association operates Paku Divinity School
Paku Divinity School
The Paku Divinity School is a Baptist Christian bible school located in Taungoo, Bago Division, Myanmar. The PDS is the First Divinity School in Taungoo. The campus can be accessed from both Myo Gyi Road and Boundary Road. The original dormitories of Men and Women Hall are still in use as is PCC...

. The Paku Karen speake S'gaw .

Political history




In 1881 the Karen National Associations (KNA) was founded by western-educated Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 Karens to represent Karen interests to the British. They argued at the 1917 Montagu-Chelmsford hearings
Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms were reforms introduced by the British Government in India to introduce self-governing institutions gradually to India. The reforms take their name from Edwin Samuel Montagu, the Secretary of State for India during the latter parts of World War I and Lord Chelmsford,...

 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 that Burma was not "yet in a fit state for self-government", but 3 years later, after submitting a criticism of the 1920 Craddock Reforms
Reginald Craddock
Sir Reginald Henry Craddock, GCIE, KCSI was a British government and colonial official who served as the governor of Burma and chairman of the Indian constitutional reforms committee, and later became a Conservative Party Member of Parliament .Craddock's father Surgeon Major William Craddock had...

, won 5 (later 12) seats in the Legislative Council
Legislative Council
A Legislative Council is the name given to the legislatures, or one of the chambers of the legislature of many nations and colonies.A Member of the Legislative Council is commonly referred to as an MLC.- Unicameral legislatures :...

 of 130 (later 132) members. The majority Buddhist Karens were not organised until 1939 with the formation of a Buddhist KNA.

In 1938 the British colonial administration recognised Karen New Year as a public holiday.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, when the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese occupied the region, long-term tensions between the Karen and Burma turned into open fighting. As a consequence, many villages were destroyed and massacres committed by both the Japanese and the Burma Independence Army (BIA) troops who helped the Japanese invade the country. Among the victims were a pre-war Cabinet minister, Saw Pe Tha, and his family. A government report later claimed the 'excesses of the BIA' and 'the loyalty of the Karens towards the British' as the reasons for these attacks. The intervention by Colonel Suzuki Keiji, the Japanese commander of the BIA, after meeting a Karen delegation led by Saw Tha Din, appeared to have prevented further atrocities.

The Karen people aspired to have the areas where they were the majority formed into a subdivision or "state" within Burma similar to what the Shan, Kachin
Kachin people
The Kachin people are a group of ethnic groups who largely inhabit the Kachin Hills in northern Burma's Kachin State and neighbouring areas of China and India. More than half of the Kachin people identify themselves as Christians - while a significant minority follow Buddhism and some also adhere...

 and Chin
Chin people
The Chin , known as the Kuki in Assam, are one of the ethnic groups in Burma. The Chins are found mainly in western part of Burma and numbered circa 1.5 million. They also live in nearby Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur and Assam. Owing to Mizo influence and Baptist missionaries'...

 peoples had been given. A goodwill mission led by Saw Tha Din and Saw Ba U Gyi to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in August 1946 failed to receive any encouragement from the British government for any separatist demands. When a delegation of representatives of the Governor's Executive Council headed by Aung San
Aung San
Bogyoke Aung San ; 13 February 1915 – 19 July 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, nationalist, and founder of the modern Burmese army, the Tatmadaw....

 was invited to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 to negotiate for the Aung San
Aung San
Bogyoke Aung San ; 13 February 1915 – 19 July 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, nationalist, and founder of the modern Burmese army, the Tatmadaw....

-Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

 Treaty in January 1947, none of the ethnic minority members was included by the British government. The following month at the Panglong Conference
Panglong Conference
The Panglong Conference , held in February 1947, was an historic meeting that took place at Panglong in the Shan States in Burma between the Shan, Kachin and Chin ethnic minority leaders and Aung San, head of the interim Burmese government...

, when an agreement was signed between Aung San as head of the interim Burmese government and the Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders, the Karen were present only as observers; the Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

 and Arakanese
Rakhine people
The Rakhine , is a nationality in Myanmar forming the majority along the coastal region of present day Rakhine State or Arakan State. They possibly constitute 5.53% or more of Myanmar's total population but no accurate census figures exist. Rakhine people also live in the southeastern parts of...

 were also absent. The British promised to consider the case of the Karen after the war. While the situation of the Karen was discussed, nothing practical was done before the British left Burma. The 1947 Constitution, drawn without Karen participation due to their boycott of the elections to the Constituent Assembly
Burmese general election, 1947
General elections were held in Burma on 9 April 1947 to form the basis of a constituent assembly which would design a constitution once independence from the United Kingdom had been achieved. They were the first elections in Burma since its separation from India under the British Raj...

, also failed to address the Karen question specifically and clearly, leaving it to be discussed only after independence. The Shan
Shan State
Shan State is a state of Burma . Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma in the west. Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total...

 and Karenni
Kayah State
Kayah State is a state of Myanmar. Situated in eastern Myanmar, it is bounded on the north by Shan State, on the east by Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, and on the south and west by Kayin State. It lies approximately between 18° 30' and 19° 55' north latitude and between 94°40' and 97° 93' east...

 states were given the right to secession after 10 years, the Kachin their own state, and the Chin a special division. The Mon and Arakanese of Ministerial Burma were not given any consideration.

In early February 1947, the Karen National Union
Karen National Union
The Karen National Union is a political organisation with an armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army that represents the Karen people of Burma. It operates in Eastern Burma, and has underground networks in other areas of Burma where Karen people live. In Karen, this Karen area is called...

 (KNU) was formed at a Karen Congress attended by 700 delegates from the Karen National Associations, both Baptist and Buddhist (KNA - founded 1881), the Karen Central Organisation (KCO) and its youth wing, the Karen Youth Organisation (KYO), at Vinton Memorial Hall in Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

. The meeting called for a Karen state with a seaboard, an increased number of seats (25%) in the Constituent Assembly, a new ethnic census, and a continuance of Karen units in the armed forces. The deadline of March 3 passed without a reply from the British government, and Saw Ba U Gyi
Ba U Gyi
Karen people live in Burma and Thailand because they don't have a country. We have an important leader, Saw Ba U Gyi, and we never forget him. He helped the Karen people to get freedom. He was a good person....

, the president of the KNU, resigned from the Governor's Executive Council the next day.


After the war ended, Burma was granted independence in January 1948, and the Karen, led by the KNU, attempted to co-exist peacefully with the Burman ethnic majority. Karen people held leading positions in both the government and the army. In the fall of 1948, the Burmese government, led by U Nu
U Nu
For other people with the Burmese name Nu, see Nu .U Nu was a leading Burmese nationalist and political figure of the 20th century...

, began raising and arming irregular political militias known as Sitwundan. These militias were under the command of Major Gen. Ne Win
Ne Win
Ne Win was Burmese a politician and military commander. He was Prime Minister of Burma from 1958 to 1960 and 1962 to 1974 and also head of state from 1962 to 1981...

 and outside the control of the regular army. In January 1949, some of these militias went on a rampage through Karen communities. In late January, the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Smith Dun, a Karen, was removed from office and imprisoned. He was replaced by fanatic Burmese nationalist Ne Win. These events happened at exactly the same time a commission looking into the Karen problem was due to make its report to the government. The events effectively killed the report. The Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO), formed in July 1947, then rose up in an insurgency against the government. They were helped by the defections of the Karen Rifles and the Union Military Police (UMP) units which had been successfully deployed in suppressing the earlier Burmese Communist
Communist Party of Burma
The Communist Party of Burma is the oldest existing political party in Burma. The party is unrecognised by the Burmese authorities, rendering it illegal; so it operates in a clandestine manner, often associating with insurgent armies along the border of People's Republic of China...

 rebellions, and came close to capturing Yangon itself. The most notable was the Battle of Insein, nine miles from Yangon, where they held out in a 112-day siege till late May 1949.

Years later, the Karen had become the largest of 20 minority groups participating in an insurgency against the military dictatorship
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

 in Yangon. During the 1980s, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) fighting force numbered approximately 20,000. After an uprising of the people of Burma in 1988, known as the 8888 Uprising
8888 Uprising
The 8888 Nationwide Popular Pro-Democracy Protests was a series of marches, demonstrations, protests, and riots in the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma...

, the KNLA had accepted those demonstrators in their bases along the border. The dictatorship expanded the army and launched a series of major offensives against the KNLA. By 2006, the KNLA's strength had shrunk to less than 4,000, opposing what is now a 400,000-man Burmese army. However, the political arm of the KNLA - the KNU - continued efforts to resolve the conflict through political means.

In 1994-5 dissenters from the Buddhist minority in the KNLA formed a splinter group called the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army is a breakaway group of Buddhist former soldiers and officers of the Karen National Liberation Army , one of the larger insurgent armies in Burma...

 (DKBA), and went over to the side of the military junta
State Peace and Development Council
The State Peace and Development Council was the official name of the military regime of Burma , which seized power in 1988. On 30 March 2011, Senior General Than Shwe signed a decree to officially dissolve the Council....

. The split is believed to have led to the fall of the KNU headquarters at Manerplaw
Manerplaw
Manerplaw is a city in the Kayin State of Burma and is also the suggested capital of the proposed Kawthoolei state that the Karen people of Burma have been trying to establish since the late 1940s. The headquarters of the Karen National Union were located in Manerplaw until January 1995.The...

 in January 1995.
The conflict continues , with a new KNU headquarters in Mu Aye Pu, on the Burmese–Thai
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 border. In 2004, the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, citing aid agencies, estimates that up to 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes during decades of war, with 160,000 more refugees from Burma, mostly Karen, living in refugee camp
Refugee camp
A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people may live in any one single camp. Usually they are built and run by a government, the United Nations, or international organizations, or NGOs.Refugee camps are generally set up in an impromptu...

s on the Thai side of the border.
Reports as recently as February, 2010, state that the Burmese army continues to burn Karen villages, displacing thousands of people.
Many Karen, including people such as former KNU secretary Padoh Mahn Sha Lah Phan and his daughter, Zoya Phan
Zoya Phan
Zoya Phan is a high profile exiled political activist from Burma of Karen descent. Currently, she resides in the United Kingdom, where she is International Coordinator of the human rights organization Burma Campaign UK...

, have accused the military government of Burma of ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

. The U.S. State Department has also cited the Burmese government for suppression of religious freedom. This is a source of particular trouble to the Karen, as between thirty and forty percent of them are Christians.

Language


The Karen languages
Karen languages
The Karen languages are tonal languages spoken by some three million Karen people. They are of unclear affiliation within the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Karen languages are written using the Burmese script. The three main branches are Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni and Kayan are related to the...

, members of the Tibeto-Burman
Tibeto-Burman languages
The Tibeto-Burman languages are the non-Chinese members of the Sino-Tibetan language family, over 400 of which are spoken thoughout the highlands of southeast Asia, as well as lowland areas in Burma ....

 group of the Sino-Tibetan
Sino-Tibetan languages
The Sino-Tibetan languages are a language family comprising, at least, the Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. They are second only to the Indo-European languages in terms of the number of native speakers...

 language family, consist of three mutually unintelligible branches: Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni
Karenni
Red Karen also known as Karenni, is a subgroup of the Karen people, a Sino-Tibetan people living mostly in Kayah State of Burma....

 (Red Karen) and Kayan
Kayan (Burma)
The Kayan are a subgroup of the Red Karen people, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Burma . The Kayan consists of the following groups: Kayan Lahwi , Kayan Ka Khaung , Kayan Lahta, Kayan Ka Ngan...

 belong to the Sgaw branch.
The Karen languages
Karen languages
The Karen languages are tonal languages spoken by some three million Karen people. They are of unclear affiliation within the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Karen languages are written using the Burmese script. The three main branches are Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni and Kayan are related to the...

 are almost unique among the Tibeto-Burman languages in having a subject–verb–object word order; other than Karen and Bai, Tibeto-Burman languages feature a subject–object–verb order. This anomaly is likely due to the influence of neighboring Mon and Tai languages
Tai languages
The Tai or Zhuang–Tai languages are a branch of the Tai–Kadai language family. The Tai languages include the most widely spoken of the Tai–Kadai languages, including standard Thai or Siamese, the national language of Thailand; Lao or Laotian, the national language of Laos; Burma's Shan language;...

.

Religion



Karens were Animists
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

 originally, but today the majority is Buddhist in conjunction with Animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

. The Buddhist influence came from the Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

 who were dominant in Lower Burma
Lower Burma
Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

 until the middle of the 18th century. Tha Byu, the first convert to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 in 1828, was baptised
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 by Rev George Boardman
George Boardman
George Dana Boardman was born in Livermore, Maine, the son of the Rev. Sylvanus Boardman. He attended Colby College, and was the school's first graduate in 1822. He served as tutor for a year at Colby, then continued his education at Andover Theological Seminary. On February 16, 1825, he was...

, an associate of Adoniram Judson
Adoniram Judson
Adoniram Judson, Jr. was an American Baptist missionary, who served in Burma for almost forty years. At the age of 25, Adoniram Judson became the first Protestant missionary sent from North America to preach in Burma...

, founder of the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 Foreign Mission
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 Society. Today, Karen Christians belong to the Catholic Church or to the different Protestant denominations. Some of the largest Protestant denominations are: Baptist and Seventh-day Adventists. Persecution of Christians by the Burmese authorities has continued to this day, fueled by the belief that Western imperialists
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 have sought to divide the country not only on ethnic but on religious grounds.

The Karen Baptist Convention
Karen Baptist Convention
', Myanmar was established in 1913. It is located in Lanmadaw Tsp, Yangon, Myanmar. Today the Karen Baptist Convention is the largest member body of the Myanmar Baptist Convention, which was formed in 1865. Leaderships in the organization are for a four-year term and can only be re-elected for one...

 is established in 1913 and the HQ is located in Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

,Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

. The KBC has 20 members association in Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

.The KBC operate K.B.C charity Clinic in Insein Yangon. The KBC also operates Karen Baptist Theological Seminary
Karen Baptist Theological Seminary
The Karen Baptist Theological Seminary was established in 1845. It is Located in Seminary Hill, Insein, Yangon, Myanmar. The seminary's academic courses are taught primarily in the S'gaw Karen language, with English being used for other purposes. The Burmese language is not used....

,http://kbts.info in Insein
Insein
Not to be confused with Insein, KaleInsein Township is located in the northern Yangon. The township comprises 21 wards, and shares borders with Shwepyitha township in the north, Hlaingthaya township in the west, and Mingaladon township in the east and south...

,Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

.The seminary is not only run theology program but also run secular degree programs to fulfill young Karen intellectual and vocational needs. The Pwo Karen Baptist Convention located in Ahlone, Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

 and also operates Pwo Karen Theological Seminary http://www.pkts.org. There are other schools for Karen people in Myanmar, such as Paku Divinity School
Paku Divinity School
The Paku Divinity School is a Baptist Christian bible school located in Taungoo, Bago Division, Myanmar. The PDS is the First Divinity School in Taungoo. The campus can be accessed from both Myo Gyi Road and Boundary Road. The original dormitories of Men and Women Hall are still in use as is PCC...

 in Taungoo, Kothabyu Bible School in Pathein, Yangon Home Mission School.
The Thailand Karen Baptist Convention is located in Chaingmai,Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

The Seventh-day Adventists have built several schools in the Karen refugee camps in Thailand to educate and serve the Karen people. Eden Valley Academy in Tak
Tak
Tak or TAK may refer to:Places*Places in Thailand:* Tak Province* Tak * Tak district, a.k.a Amphoe Mueang Tak*Other places:* Tak, Azerbaijan, a.k.a. Dağdöşü* Tak, a former kingdom in India, a.k.a...

 and Karen Adventist Academy in Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son ) is a town in north west Thailand, capital of the Mae Hong Son Province. It is located in the Shan Hills, near the border with Burma along the banks of the river Pai...

 are the two largest Seventh-day Adventist Karen schools.

Kawthoolei


Kawthoolei is the Karen name for the state that the Karen people of Burma have been trying to establish since the late 1940s. The precise meaning of the name is disputed even by the Karen themselves; possible interpretations include Flowerland and Land without evil, although, according to Martin Smith
Martin Smith
Martin Smith may refer to:*Martin Smith , British professor of robotics at the Open University*Martin Smith , British actor, singer and composer*Martin Smith , Irish boxer...

 in Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity, it has a double meaning, and can also be rendered as the Land Burnt Black; hence the land that must be fought for. Kawthoolei roughly approximates to present-day Kayin State, some parts of Pegu and Tanintharyi Division, although parts of the Burmese Ayeyarwady River
Ayeyarwady River
The Irrawaddy River or Ayeyarwady River is a river that flows from north to south through Burma . It is the country's largest river and most important commercial waterway. Originating from the confluence of the N'mai and Mali rivers, it flows relatively straight North-South before emptying through...

 delta with Karen populations have sometimes also been claimed. Kawthoolei as a name is a relatively recent invention, penned during the time of former Karen leader Ba U Gyi
Ba U Gyi
Karen people live in Burma and Thailand because they don't have a country. We have an important leader, Saw Ba U Gyi, and we never forget him. He helped the Karen people to get freedom. He was a good person....

, who was assassinated around the time of Burma's independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 from Britain.

See also

  • Kayin State
    Kayin State
    Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

  • Karenni
  • Karen Baptist Convention
    Karen Baptist Convention
    ', Myanmar was established in 1913. It is located in Lanmadaw Tsp, Yangon, Myanmar. Today the Karen Baptist Convention is the largest member body of the Myanmar Baptist Convention, which was formed in 1865. Leaderships in the organization are for a four-year term and can only be re-elected for one...

  • Karen Baptist Theological Seminary
    Karen Baptist Theological Seminary
    The Karen Baptist Theological Seminary was established in 1845. It is Located in Seminary Hill, Insein, Yangon, Myanmar. The seminary's academic courses are taught primarily in the S'gaw Karen language, with English being used for other purposes. The Burmese language is not used....

  • Paku Divinity School
    Paku Divinity School
    The Paku Divinity School is a Baptist Christian bible school located in Taungoo, Bago Division, Myanmar. The PDS is the First Divinity School in Taungoo. The campus can be accessed from both Myo Gyi Road and Boundary Road. The original dormitories of Men and Women Hall are still in use as is PCC...


Online


Film

  • The ongoing persecution of the Karen by the Burmese army is depicted in the 2008 film Rambo 4
    Rambo (film)
    Rambo is a 2008 German/American Action film starring Sylvester Stallone returning and reprising his famous role as legendary Cold War/Vietnam veteran John Rambo. Stallone also co-wrote and directed the film. It is the fourth and most recent installment in the Rambo franchise, twenty years since...

     and serves as background in the 2011 film Largo Winch 2.

External links