KNWO is a grassroots organization of Karenni refugee women who have fled to Thailand to escape the multiple atrocities perpetrated by the Burmese military regime.

Over the past 60 years, Burma has been under a despotic government wanting control over the entire ethnic states and the country’s resources. The protracted civil war in Burma has escalated to massive killings directed at eradicating ethnic nationalities.

As early as 1989, thousands of Karenni people have left their homeland to seek asylum in the northern border province of Thailand.

Presently two refugee camps in Mae Hong Son province provide temporary settlement to a combined population of 24,009 (KNRC, May 2008 population report) of which 48 percent are women.

Karenni is an ethnic state of Burma, inside the Karenni State there are at least 80,000 people who are internally displaced (IDP). In both the camp and IDP areas the list is constantly increasing.


Karenni is the smallest ethnic state located on the eastern part of Burma and bordered by Mae Hong Son province in the northeast of Thailand. While it was never incorporated into British India and was instead granted independence by both the British Governor and the Burmese King on 21 June 1875, the State was invaded by Burmans even before the country achieved its own independence. This state of occupation and ethnic resistance continues up to now.

Map of Karenni State

The Burmese military government has implemented the Four-Cuts policy* with devastating diligence in Karenni state— aimed at cutting ties between resistance armies and the villages on areas of food, money, information and new recruits. The Burmese military has attempted to accomplish this by virtually destroying all of the villages in Karenni State and forcing inhabitants into relocation camps. Forced labor, arbitrary executions, rape, torture and lack of medical care and education are only a few of the burdens that relocated Karenni people have to struggle with.

Most of the villagers, unable to endure the ongoing atrocities perpetrated by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), have fled in large numbers over the Thailand border. Some continue to hide in the jungles and live a nomadic life.

The approximated population of Karenni State is around 300,000.

* The SPDC has changed this policy to Four Square strategy meant to enclose and block the areas