Majority-Buddhist Myanmar is made up of eight major and eight minor ethnic groups, each of which hoped for autonomy after Burmese independence 70 years ago. On February 12th, 1947 Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, then national leader, signed the Panglong Agreement, promising all ethnic minorities a place in a new Union. (The date is still recognised as Union Day). When, five months later, he was assassinated, civil war and ethnic rebellion followed, continued by some groups to this day. Among them are ethnic groups who are majority Christian, including the Kachin and the Karen. These conflict zones along the country’s borders are where most of these Christians live, again including the Karen, who have faced years of government oppression.
Vishal Arora visited one Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp on the Myanmar border with Thailand, and heard how the ongoing conflict continues to affect the lives of both adults and, especially, Karen children.