Skip to main content

page search

Library Burma: Displaced Karens. Like Water on the Khu Leaf

Burma: Displaced Karens. Like Water on the Khu Leaf

Burma: Displaced Karens. Like Water on the Khu Leaf

Resource information

Date of publication
November 2000
Resource Language
ISBN / Resource ID

War disrupts the normal relationship between people and place.
Displaced by war, people must adapt to survive, both physically and
socially. When people are displaced for a long time, these
adaptations become normal; thus displacement starts as an
aberration but becomes a constant way of life. In eastern Burma,
'normal' displacement has led to significant changes in the political,
cultural and economic relationships between Karen people and their
'place' - both the physical space they occupy and their position in
society. Those changes, and particularly the Karens' own revised
perceptions of their place in the world, provide insights into how
they, and others in Burma, cope with displacement.
In Burma,1 population displacement is widespread, though little
understood. Armed conflict, disputes over land and natural
resources, and poverty drive people from their homes; but there has
been little research on displacement's effect on people's lives.2 Many
internally displaced persons live in remote areas that are also theatres
of war; and the government of Burma denies permission to
researchers or aid workers hoping to visit these contested regions.
Furthermore, until a few years ago, Burma's displaced population
attracted little international attention. Few, apart from a handful of
Thailand-based aid organisations, knew about conditions in the war
zones. By the late 1990s, however, the world became more aware of
conditions inside Burma, thanks to reports of displacement,
increasing numbers of would-be refugees seeking asylum in
Thailand, the controversial repatriation of Burmese refugees from
Bangladesh, deteriorating tolerance for refugees in Thailand, and the
burgeoning influence of Burma's democracy movement...

Share on RLBI navigator