CASTLEBAR, Ireland — After fleeing an army campaign of human rights abuses in eastern Burma, a group of Karen refugees celebrated a white Christmas this year in the snowbound west of Ireland.“Every now and then, the military comes through our village and asks my mother, 'Where is your son?'” said Po Hta.
As a teenager, Po Hta fled Burma in 1994, spending a couple of years in Bangkok before the Thai authorities moved him to Ban Don Yang refugee camp in the north.
Now he calls a friend in Bangkok every few weeks, who keeps in touch with his mother, mother and son pass information back and forth through the friend. Po Hta, who asked that his real name not be used, is part of a group of 100 Karen refugees who resettled in Ireland two years ago. The Karen army has fought the Burmese army on and off since the country gained independence from Great Britain in 1948 and ordinary Karens have suffered government army counter-attacks and reprisals. Karen are the largest refugee group among the 140,000 Burmese refugees in camps along the Thai-Burma border. According to a Harvard University report “Crimes in Burma,” human rights abuses in Burma are widespread, systematic and part of state policy.
Nay Tun said: “We spent three months hiding in the forest and slowly making our way to the Thai border. It took two years for her turn to come, and when she was told she would be sent to Ireland, she said that she knew little about the country. Two years on, all say they are happy with life in Ireland—aside from the ubiquitous complaints about the weather. The classroom gives the refugees a chance to keep in touch with friends and family elsewhere via the Internet. The Burmese army lives off the land, requisitioning supplies—and people—at will in ethnic minority areas. Accentuating the difference between state security in Ireland and Burma, Nay Tun said: “In Burma, we hide from the police.

Usually this part of Ireland is windswept and rain-soaked most of the year, but generally quite temperate, with relatively small variations in temperature across the four seasons when compared to continental Europe.
However, the group is happy to be in Ireland, away from persecution at home and the monotony of camp life in northern Thailand. Those links have helped the Karen not only hold traditional dance demonstrations and discuss their culture with their Irish hosts, but to get involved in some Irish traditions as well. In July 2009, renewed government army attacks in the Karen region displaced around 10,000 more people. The ruling junta has long played a divide-and-conquer game with the country's ethnic minority groups. International Shipping - items may be subject to customs processing depending on the item's declared value. Your country's customs office can offer more details, or visit eBay's page on international trade.
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He spent 10 years there, before being sent to Ireland in 2007 under a UN refugee resettlement programme.
Estimated to number around 7 million of Burma's 56 million population, with another 400,000 Karen native to Thailand, the Karen are both Christians and Buddhists.
Hundreds of thousands are among the more than 3 million Burmese economic migrants in Thailand.

The report concluded that the abuses justify further investigation and suggested that Burma’s military regime may be committing crimes against humanity and war crimes under international law. The Harvard Report estimated that since 1996, the military has destroyed more than 3,000 villages in the country's east.
They have formed a Karen-Ireland Association which coordinates the group's activities—such as the recent Karen New Year celebration—and works with Irish friends and supporting institutions such as the Mayo Vocational Education Committee to foster closer ties with the host country.
Phaw Kweh said this was typical of a regime that tries to impose its will on the country by force.
The Karen have not been immune, with junta-allied groups such as the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DBKA) attacking their kin at the regime's behest. Contact the seller- opens in a new window or tab and request a shipping method to your location.
An estimated 500,000 Burmese are displaced inside Burma due to government army campaigns, living and hiding in the jungle, according to the most recent analysis used in the Harvard report. The DBKA split from the Karen National Union (KNU)—regarded as the main political organization representing Karen interests—in 1995.
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All in all, the level of destruction in eastern Burma is on a similar scale to that in Darfur.

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