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KNU urges all sub-groups to unite as Karen for census

The Karen National Union (KNU) has urged the various ethnic sub-groups within Karen state to register in next year’s nationwide census as “Karen” when identifying their ethnicity in the questionnaire.

Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win, the general-secretary of the KNU, said that the Karen rebel leadership concluded that it is necessary for all ethnic sub-groups to be listed as simply Karen in order to calculate the precise population of their ethnicity.

Speaking at the conclusion of the KNU’s Permanent Central Committee meeting in Hpa-an district from 2- 7 December, Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win said, “We are assuming the duty of carrying out the census in our territories and are appointing personnel for the task. We believe that the ethnic sub-groups should not register under any other name than ‘Karen’ so that we can get the precise number of the Karen population.”

The Kayin People’s Party (KPP) also announced that it wanted to remind all Karen people to list themselves as Karen or Kayin, the main ethnic group, as opposed to any of the smaller sub-factions of the Karen on the list of the 135 recognised ethnicities in Burma.


The KPP said it had proposed to the regional government in Irrawaddy division that it be allowed to provide assistance to the large Karen population in the delta to ensure they register correctly for the census.

Saw Say Wah, the deputy-chairman of the KPP, said: “We are also reminding Karen people to use the titles ‘Saw’ for men and ‘Naw’ for women, instead of the Burmese equivalents, ‘U’ and ‘Daw’.”

Another Karen state-based political party, the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party, has said it is cooperating with the immigration authorities and the Norwegian Refugee Council to issue ID cards to locals who were yet to acquire one, according to the Karen News.

Burma Immigration Minister Khin Yi previously announced that the nationwide census will be carried out from 30 March to 10 April 2014, and will ask each citizen to select which of the 135 recognised ethnic groups in the country he or she belongs to.

The recognised sub-groups of the Karen are: the Kayinpyu, the Pa-le-Chi, the Mon-Kayin, the Sgaw, the Ta-Lay-Pwa, the Paku, the Bwe, the Monnepwa, the Shu, and the Monpwa.


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