Karen Annotated Resource List

"3 Sides to Every Story: A Profile of Muslim Communities in the Refugee Camps on the Thailand Burma border"

(2010). Report by the Thai Burma Border Consortium. Available at: http://www.tbbc.org/resources/2010-09-muslim-profile-english.rar OR http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/78FCDBC2606BC2EF492577A6001DE22B-Full_Report.pdf

In 2009 TBBC undertook research to gain a fuller understanding of the experiences, practices, and preferences of the Muslim communities in the refugee camps in Thailand.

Burmese political dissidents in Thailand: Trauma and survival among young adults in exile

Allden, K., Poole, C., Chantavanich, S., & Ohmar, K. (1996).  American Journal of Public Health, 86(11), 1561-9.

This study assessed the self-reported mental health, physical health, and social functioning of young adult political exiles and relates their psychiatric symptoms to their trauma and survival strategies. It is based on a 1992/93 survey of Burmese (note: Burmese/Burman, not Karen) who fled to Bangkok, Thailand, after participating in a 1988 uprising against Burma's government elicited information on employment, education, disability, trauma, survival strategies, and depressive and posttraumatic stress symptoms.

Myanmar (Burma): Continuing killings and ill-treatment of minority peoples

Amnesty International. (1991, July).  Available at:  http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA16/005/1991/en.

This paper focuses on violations reported since 23 February 1990, the date campaigning for the 1990 general election began. Deliberate killings and torture of people seized and forced to work as porters for the tatmadaw, or to clear mines, are described in this paper, as are similar violations of people suspected of involvement in armed opposition groups.

Myanmar: Crimes against Humanity in Eastern Myanmar

Amnesty International. (2008). Available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA16/011/2008/en
This report focuses on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in the Karen State and Bago Division between 2005 through 2007. It includes information on violations committed in military operations by the Burmese army (known as the tatmadaw) and on tatmadaw policy and practices that have targeted civilians.

Myanmar: “In the national interest”: Prisoners of conscience, torture, summary trials under martial law

Amnesty International. (1990, November).  Available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA16/010/1990/en.

This report profiles the human rights abuses of several prisoners of conscience and gives account of widespread torture, both of those detained for participation in the pro-democracy movement and of people held in connection with the activities of armed opposition groups representing Burma’s ethnic minorities. imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their views. It contains graphic accounts of Profiles of the Testimonies from former and current prisoners, relatives, friends or associates are also included.

Myanmar: The institution of torture

Amnesty International. (2000, December). Available at:

This report examines how torture and ill-treatment have become institutionalized in Myanmar : practised by Military Intelligence personnel when they interrogate political detainees; by prison guards; and by the police.

“Refugees from Burma: Their Backgrounds and Refugee Experiences”

Baron, Sandy, et al. (2007). Published by the Center for Applied Linguistics. Available at: http://www.cal.org/co/pdffiles/refugeesfromburma.pdf  
This profile provides information about the diverse histories, cultures, and refugee experiences of the refugees from Burma, with a focus on the Burmans, the Karen and their various subgroups, and the Chin.  Designed as a resource for refugee service providers but likely to be of use to teachers, local government agency staff, and others who interact with the Burmese, the profile also addresses the early experiences of the Burmese already resettled in the U.S. 2007.

“Burma Timeline”

BBC News. (30 March 2011)  Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1300082.stm.

Timeline of key events in the history of Burma.

“Should it be Burma or Myanmar?”

BBC News. (27 September 2010). Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7013943.stm

This articles highlights the political and cultural reasons for use of either the term Burma or Myanmar.

Ethnic Identities of the Karen Peoples in Burma and Thailand

Buadaeng, K. (2007). In J. Peacock, P. Thornton & P Inman (Eds.). Identity Matters: Ethnic and Sectarian Conflict, (pp. 73-97). New York, NY: Berghahn Books.

This book chapter highlights power relations and the systems of ethnic relations in Burma and Thailand that have shaped different Karen ethnic identities.

“U.S. Cultural Exchange Program 2008—Umpiem and Mae La Camps, Thailand”

Cook, Tonya. (2008). Presentation available at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/refugee/globalbbburma.pdf

This presentation gives information about Karen history, the refugee camp experience, and focuses on the overseas refugee case processing  procedure and cultural orientation classes offered to refugees before they depart for the US. 

“Observations of Karen Resettled in USA”

Duford, Jack.  Available at: http://www.tbbc.org/announcements/2008-07-karen-resettled-usa-observations.pdf

Jack Dunford is the Executive Director of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC). He visited resettled Karen in the U.S. in April 2008 to better understand the process and problems of resettlement in the US. In this report he documents his observations.

“Karen Refugees from Burma”

Dwe, Eh Taw. Available at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/refugee/metrotf/karen09.pdf.

Presentation about Karen refugee history, culture, resettlement challenges, and cross-cultural tips for service providers.

Karen Homepage

EthnoMED. Available at: http://ethnomed.org/culture/karen.

Information about Karen history, culture and community with emphasis on health related issues.

“Update of Burma Army Attacks, Murders, Displacement and Forced Labor in Karen State, Burma”

Free Burma Rangers.  Available at:

This is an update with photos of Burma Army attacks, murders, displacement and forced labor against villagers and IDPs in Karen State, Burma.

"Crimes in Burma”

Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic. (2009). Available at: http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp/documents/Crimes-in-Burma.pdf

This report is based on an analysis of scores of UN documents dating back to 1992, including UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions, as well as reports from several different Special Rapporteurs.

“Abuses Linked to the Fall of Manerplaw”

Human Rights Watch.  (2005). Available at: http://www.hrw.org/legacy/summaries/s.burma953.html.

This report documents the gross violation of human rights of the civilian population during the Burmese offensive against the KNU from November 1994 to February 1995. It is based on data collected by Human Rights Watch/Asia during a research mission to the Thai-Burmese border in January and February 1995. HRW interviewed over fifty men who had been forcibly taken as porters by the Burmese military to carry heavy artillery and other supplies to mountain tops near Manerplaw, the capital of the Karen state.

“The Karen people: Culture, Faith and History”

Karen Buddhist Dhamma Dhutta Foundation. (2010). Available at: http://www.karen.org.au/docs/karen_people.pdf

This publication was written by a Karen Buddhist monk after resettling to Australia to answer frequent questions about Karen people and Karen culture.

Karen Refugee Committee Monthly Reports

Available at: http://www.burmalibrary.org/show.php?cat=1831&lo=d&sl=0

At this website you can find the monthly reports by the Karen Refugee Committee, including disaggregated numbers of people in the camps, details of items received, where distributed etc.

“The State of Terror”

Karen Women’s Organisation. (2007). Available at: http://www.karenwomen.org/Reports/state%20of%20terror%20report.pdf

This report documents the range of human rights abuses that continue to be perpetrated across Karen State. The report focuses in particular on the abuses experienced by women and girls and draws on over 4,000 documented cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Burmese army.

“Walking Amongst Sharp Knives: The Unsung Courage of Karen Women Village Chiefs in Conflict Areas of Eastern Burma”

Karen Women’s Organization. (2010).

The practice of the Burmese Army to execute village heads has led to traditional Karen culture being turned upside‐down, with women now being appointed village chiefs as they are seen as less likely to be killed. However, this change has put women in the frontline of human rights abuses. This report documents the crimes against humanity and war crimes faced by women village heads who are targeted for systemic abuse by the Burmese military in Eastern Burma.

“Refugees from Burma”

Redd, David. Available at: http://www.davidredd.com/professional/burmese/Burmese.html 

This is a personal website. According to its author, David Redd, it began as a project while he was in graduate studies in anthropology at McGill University and has grown ever since. Currently, David Redd is working as a case manager at a refugee agency called World Relief in Atlanta, GA. Website includes photos of refugees families from Burma resettled to the Atlanta area.

Burma’s Displaced People

Refugee Studies Center, Oxford University. Forced Migration Review, 30 (4).

This issue of Forced Migration Review is focused on the crisis of forced displacement of people in Burma.

"Needs Assessment of Refugee Communities from Bhutan and Burma”

Southeast Asian Resource Action Center. (2010).

This report gives the results of a needs assessment from 15 focus group with refugees from Bhutan and Burma who have resettled in several cities in the US.

“Assessing the Mental Health of Karen and Bhutanese Refugee Families in the Child Welfare System"

Shannon, P., Wieling, Ogasawara, T., S., Simmelink, J., and Becher, E.  Available at http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/research/posterpdfs/Shannon-Wieling-MH-Poster.pdf.

Results of focus groups with Karen and Bhutanese refugees. Poster summarizes background information, methods used, trauma and symptoms, family responses, and recommendations.