Myanmar: Why World Focus on the Rohingya but Not on the Karen People?

By Scott Morgan

The world has been shocked by the turn of events in Myanmar since August 27th. The heavy handed response by the security forces against the Rohingya in response to a series of raids against several police stations has generated the latest refugee crisis that has captured the attention of the world.

Regretfully, this is not the first incident occurring within the country that has followed this same path. It should not be a surprise that since the country has been transitioning from being ruled by a Military Junta to a hybrid form of a Democratic government with the fa├žade of civilian leadership with major security decisions remaining in the hands of the generals.

Much like the Rohingya along the border with Bangladesh, there is currently taking place a similar issue that has been occurring near the border with Thailand. However, unlike what has taken place far to the west this problem has largely fallen under the radar of most media outlets in the west. Who are the people that are currently suffering and why has there been selective concerns regarding which victims are defended?

Meet the Karen People

The group that is in question are the Karen. They currently make up 7% of the total population of the country which is estimated to be 5 million people. As mentioned above, this loose collection of people reside along the Thai-Myanmar border. They have had an interesting history with the authorities since the country gained independence from Britain in 1949. After fighting for their own independent state since the country gained its freedom they shifted strategies to seek a Federal system of Government beginning in 1976.

There has been virtually no information reported about the treatment of these people since 2010. Like the Rohingya, thousands of people have been displaced and villages destroyed. Since Myanmar gained its independence at least 200,000 people are reported to have been killed by the security forces with 160,000 more living in Refugee Camps on the Thai side of the border. This is a serious violation of Human Rights.

Life in the camps is no easy task for the Karen. If they attempt to leave the camps they are subject to arrest by the Thai police. Employment opportunities for these people and not just few and far between but is fraught with risk and danger. One Refugee was quoted:

“No if adults wanted to work, they had to leave quietly without getting caught by Thai police.”

So why the new focus on the Rohingya crisis while the Karen people are being overlooked? Is it fatigue of a situation that is seven decades old? Could this be a result of the loyalty of the Karen toward Britain during the Second World War and this is a grudge people are unwilling to let go of?  Why isn’t there any conversations with Thailand to determine what is needed to repatriate these people back into society? This is a opportunity for the United States to support a key ally in the region.

One of the most interesting quotes I have heard is that the most insidious power that the media has is the power to ignore. It appears that in some cases Governments can also exercise this power. The actions of the Myanmar government suggests that in their grand scheme of things that neither of these people actually exist in their country. In fact, they feel like they are interlopers who should not be in the country in the first place.

Meanwhile, the world has been encouraged to send aid to Bangladesh to assist the Rohingyas while the Karen suffer along the Thai-Myanmar border generally outside the observation of most of the world media’s outlets. This means that the shiny new toy principle may be in place here. It is so wrong but who will actually question its use?

(Image: Karen People[Ed] - Google Images]

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Hi Morgan,

    "So why the new focus on the Rohingya crisis while the Karen people are being overlooked?"

    Because they are not Muslim. In a nutshell, that's the answer. The International Socialist decided that only all-things Muslim is to be addressed and to become the world's main focus, regardless of the consequences of such decisions.

    The Karen People are Buddhist, Animist and Christian. But they also have independentist ambitions which could cause a reaction on the part of Myanmar? Look at how low Spain is willing to go to protect it's "Unity".

    Good job, man.


  2. Along with Max, I would suggest that they are too "Christian" to warrant sympathy from those who officially determine where the West places its concerns. Thanks for the article and reminder, as it has been a long time since I last heard about the Karen people.

  3. I second Max's and Looney's thoughts on this.

  4. I wonder if the Media and politicians all meet at the Bilderberg events and agree on whom to like and not to like, who to support and not to support. It is sad the world is being guided by a bunch of pretentious people with nothing on their mind except self-gain. Shabbat Shalom, Max!


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