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Myanmar's 'forgotten people' bear brunt of war

Conflict sheds light on the Karenni, who have sought autonomy for 75 years

A Karenni child carries a pail in a camp for internally displaced people in Kayah state, eastern Myanmar, in July 2022. Many people in the region were forced to flee their villages when fighting erupted following the military takeover in February 2021.   © Getty Images

MAE HONG SON, Thailand -- Except for striking images of their women, some of whom wear piles of metal coils that appear to stretch their necks, Myanmar's Karenni are a little-known ethnic minority group. But they are waging one of the world's longest insurgencies, a struggle for self-determination with cycles of extreme violence and precarious peace.

Lodged in a remote, rugged border state with a small population and a neglected history, the Karenni -- along with the neighboring Karen minority -- have fought for more than seven decades against Myanmar governments dominated by the country's Bamar ethnic majority and military leaders.

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