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The Karen people are an ethnic minority in South East Asia. They live mainly in Myanmar (Burma) and east Thailand.

In Myanmar, Karen civilians and villages are targeted by the army, called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). The government also promised the US Company Unocal and French company Total that a pipeline would be built across southern Myanmar. The government has used enforcement agencies (such as the SPDC) to force Karen people (and other Burmese minorities) into slave labour. They are also constantly relocated from their villages, and their rainforest environment is being destroyed.

Around 70, 000 Karen are refugees in camps on the Thai/Burmese border.

Johnny and Luther Htoo, the famous 12 year old guerrilla leaders of God's Army, were Karen people, fighting against the SPDC. Although God's Army is no longer in existence, there is still the Karen National Union (KNU) guerrilla group. This group have only 6000 fighters however, and few resources, so they are unable to do much for the Karen people.

One particular story I have heard about the Karen people’s mistreatment was told to me by a refugee I met at my school. He was living in his grandmother’s house, in a south Burmese village. The army forced it’s way into the village, wreaking havoc. Some soldiers entered the grandmother’s house, and placed an artillery gun at the grandmother’s window, instructing her to ‘leave it alone’. They then walked out. So the grandmother and little boy were left with a large gun in their lounge. Of course, this little boy, being a little boy, had a lot of fun with this mysterious gun.

A Danish form of the name Katherine, from the Greek name Aikaterine.

The etymology of the name Aikaterine is debated: it could derive from the earlier Greek name Hekaterine, which came from hekateros "each of the two"; it could derive from the name of the goddess Hecate (a goddess associated with witchcraft, tombs, demons and the underworld); it could be related to Greek aikia "torture"; or it could be from a Coptic name meaning "my consecration of your name". The Romans falsely derived it from Greek katharos "pure" and changed their spelling from Katerina to Katharina to reflect this.

Source: "Behind the Name: The Etymology and History of First Names"

The Karen people are the main ethnic minority in Myanmar (Burma). There are three to four million Karen in Myanmar, and another perhaps 200 000 in Thailand. Their home is in the east central part of the country on the border with Thailand. It is called the Kayin State, and has its regional capital at Hpa-an (Pa-an).

They are not a single ethnic group, but numerous related groups. They speak one of the Karen languages, a sub-family of the Sino-Tibetan family, to which Burmese also belongs. They are predominantly Buddhist with significant Christian and animist minorities.

With the adoption of more linguistically accurate names, Burma becoming Myanmar and so on, the Karen State was renamed Kayin State, which is the modern Burmese pronunciation. It is not used by the main Karen resistance.

They have always felt oppressed by the majority Burmese, and since 1949, only a year after the independence of Burma, the Karen National Union (KNU) has been fighting the central government. Their army is called the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), and the leadership is largely Christian. In recent years, as fighting has intensified, the Myanmar government has sponsored a breakaway army called the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization, formed in 1994. Many Karen are now in refugee camps across the Thai border.

Not to be confused with the Karenni or Kayah people, another ethnic group in Myanmar, whose women are famous for stretching their necks with neck-rings.

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