Southeast Asia

The Rohingya

The Rohingya is a Sunni Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Roughly 800,000 to a million of the world’s 3.5 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, where they currently face severe institutionalized discrimination and violence in what is framed as a religious conflict between Buddhists and Muslims. Many have settled...

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The Karen

The Karen are an internally diverse group of ethnic minorities who live primarily in southern and southeastern Burma. They are the second-largest non-Burman ethnic group in Myanmar comprising some 6% of the population, and are mostly Christian. During WWII, roughly 28% of Karen served in the Burmese army, which by British policy deliberately excluded ethnic Burmans. During the war, the Karen continued to support the British even as Burmans, led by...

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The Kachin

The Kachin are a majority-Christian ethnic group made up of numerous tribes, located in Upper Burma. In 1876, Protestant missionaries cultivated relationships with the Kachin and many converted to Christianity. Kachin leaders signed separate treaties with the British that granted them significant autonomy in the area known as the Kachin Hill Tracts. The Kachin also allied with the British during WWII, while the majority ...

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The Sangha

The Sangha is the Buddhist monastic community, comprised of Buddhist monks and nuns. Although Buddhist monks and nuns traditionally renounce the responsibilities of family life, they do not remove themselves completely from society. Rather, they exist as part of an economy with lay Buddhists, who offer the monks material support in exchange for religious teachings and positive karma, or merit. As such, the Sangha can have a tremendous legitimizing force as a source of merit for individuals who make offerings to them.