Karen, Kayah in Thailand



Population

21,200

Christian

Evangelical

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


The Kayah

Source Asia Harvest                                                Download

Identity

With a population in excess of a quarter million, the Western Kayah are the largest ethnic group in Kayah State in eastern Myanmar. One source states, 'Myanmar's Kayah State sits on its eastern border with Thailand, directly opposite Mae Hong Son Province. The entire state is consumed by a range of mountains that stretch the length of the eastern section of the country, varying in elevation from 3,000 to 8,000 feet within the Kayah State itself. Two major rivers, the Nampawn and the mighty Salween, run on a north-south route through the area, and have served as geographical landmarks throughout the fierce fighting which has raged here for over 20 years. The majority of the population lives in the military occupied towns and villages of the western third of the state and along the rebel borderlands near Thailand as IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples). The entire state is off-limits to foreigners.' The main centre for the Kayah people is the town of Loikaw in north-western Kayah State.

An additional 20,000 Western Kayah refugees are presently stuck in refugee camps across the border in Thailand. Large numbers started fleeing Myanmar in the early 1990s, escaping the war between the Burmese military and the KNPP (Karenni National Progressive Party), an anti-government faction operating in the Kayah State. Numerous horrific human rights abuses such as genocide and mass rape have been committed against the Kayah people by Burmese soldiers. Many Kayah are always on the move, travelling just ahead of the war parties from one location to another. The Kayah are an 'often confused or misunderstood group of people. They are regularly confused with the term Karenni, a blanket term used to cover all groups living within the Kayah State of eastern Myanmar. Karenni can include the Padaung, Sgaw Karen, Kayah, and a couple of other small groups.... The true Kayah live primarily in the northern half of the State, and speak their own language, though most also speak Sgaw Karen.' The Kayah are also called by the nickname Red Karen because of their brightly-coloured red head-cloths and shawls.

The Western Kayah speak a different language from the Eastern Kayah, a group of about 70,000 who live in eastern Kayah State and in Thailand. Speakers of Eastern Kayah 'have difficulty understanding Western Kayah of Myanmar'. The Eastern Kayah have not been included in this book since only a minority believe in Buddhism.


Religion

The Western Kayah are 'primarily Buddhist in name, though there are very strong animistic characteristics woven throughout their belief system. They observe Buddhist rituals and make periodic visits to pagodas and monasteries, but almost all villages participate in spirit worship, paying homage to the nats, or other spirits.'


Christianity

Because Kayah State is completely off-limits to foreigners, it is difficult to gauge the number of Christians among the Western Kayah today, though the number is small and not likely to exceed one or two per cent of the population. Perhaps a thousand of the Western Kayah refugees in Thailand have turned to Christ, the result of practical love and evangelism by Karen Christian refugees and foreign missionaries.


Profile Source:   Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Karen, Kayah
People Name in Country Karen, Kayah
Population in Thailand 21,000
World Population 131,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 2.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Darieng Daeng, Karenni, Karieng Daeng, Karrenyi, Kayah, Kayah Li, Red Karen, Western Karen, Yang Deang
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Karen
People Name General Karen, Kayah
Ethnic Code MSY50g
People ID 12587
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Kayah, Western (21,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kayah, Western 21,000
Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (2008)
New Testament Yes   (2010)
Complete Bible No
Audio Bible Online
Format Resource
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Kayah, Western
Text / Printed Matter Online Bible text (Scripture Earth)

Major Religion Percent
Buddhism
50.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 2.00 %)
28.00 %
Ethnic Religions
22.00 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
Anglican
0.0 %
Independent
5.0 %
Orthodox
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
Protestant
50.0 %
Roman Catholic
45.0 %
Photo Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Anonymous  
Video Source: Asia Harvest
Profile Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
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