About the Thai-Burma Border

The first 10,000 refugees to flee Burma entered Thailand in 1984. The Burmese military regime attacks villages to prevent the various ethnic groups from seeking autonomous rule. Nearly 4,000 villages have been displaced since 1984, resulting in a significant number of refugees, political asylum seekers, former political prisoners, and undocumented migrants entering Thailand.
 
Displaced villagers

Burma is home to 8 major ethnic groups, each with its own unique culture, language, and self-identity. Each ethnic group desires autonomy. Before the British occupied Burma in the 19th century, the country today known as Burma did not exist, but was a collective of various tribal ethnic groups. During British occupation, the ethnic groups were forced to merge into one single nation, with the Burmans occupying predominance.

Along the Thai-Burma border lies Karen State, named appropriately for the ethnic Karen (pronounced “kah-ren”) people who largely comprise the population. The Karen people have been engaged in a sixty year civil war for independence from the military regime. Loath to relinquish power, the military regime practices a policy of forced village displacement in order to weaken and demoralize opposition. The regime undermines the establishment of stable and peaceful communities within Karen State, creating an overwhelmingly insecure environment.