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No end in sight for Myanmar's Karen insurgency

Military takeover has reignited the ethnic minority group's seven-decade revolt

A family crosses a river as they flee from Myanmar army attacks in Kayin State last December. (Courtesy of Free Burma Rangers)

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- The Karen were once seen as a mild-mannered people, subsisting in remote mountains and jungle valleys or tending their rice fields on the endless plains of Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta. Usually, they were more prepared to flee than to fight their perennial oppressors -- the country's Bamar majority, also known as Burmans -- who scorned them as "wild cattle of the hills."

Like hunted birds, one British chronicler wrote, Karen parents would admonish their children: "Eat fast, eat fast. The Bamar may be coming."

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