Webinar: Conflict in Karen State

ACI and Young People for Development (YPD) Australia are partnering to present our April webinar entitled “Conflict in Karen State” with Zoya Phan, Chris Sidoti and Kwi Kwith on Tuesday 17 May at 7.00pm AEST.

With the world’s attention focused on the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine, little media attention has been paid to the situation of the Karen ethnic community in Myanmar, particularly since the February 2021 military coup.

The military seized control on 1 February 2021 after a general election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

Since then, the Myanmar military have intensified military operations in regions of Karen State controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) causing more than 150,000 people to flee their homes.

These people are in urgent need of food and other aid, a rights group has said, as fighting that has raged in the area for months becomes even more intense. 

“You could say this is an emergency situation for the IDPs,” Naw Htoo Htoo, spokesperson for the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) told Myanmar News last week, using a term that stands for internally displaced people. 

Our webinar will address the present situation and the challenge of building peace with justice in the South East Asian nation.


Zoya Phan

Zoya Phan

Our keynote speaker will be Zoya Phan, author of “Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West,” which tells the story of her teen years fleeing the military as a displaced person in the Burmese jungle and later as a refugee on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Zoya currently works for the Burma Campaign UK. In this role, she has become one of Europe’s leading democracy activists for Burma. She also helped create the European Karen Network.

Following the assassination of her father, Padoh Mahn Sha Young, in 2008, she and other family members set up the Phan Foundation charity.

Chris Sidoti

Chris Sidoti

A former national secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Chris Sidoti is an Australian expert on international human rights law, a lawyer and advocate.

He has served as Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995-2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992-1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987-1992). From 2003-07, he was director of the International Service for Human Rights, based in Geneva, Switzerland,

More recently, he was a commissioner on the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar 2017-19 and is currently a member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar. Chris is also an adjunct professor at the Australian Catholic University.

Kwi Kwith

Kwi Kwith

Kwi Kwith is the founder and coordinator of the Young People for Development (YPD) network in Thailand and Myanmar.

He has many years experience working with development NGOs and in relief work in Myanmar-Thailand border area.

He is currently working on relief programs for displaced Karen people inside Myanmar.


Date and Times: Tuesday 17 May 2022, 7pm Sydney, 5pm BKK and 10am UK.




Myanmar: What has happened since the 2021 coup? (BBC)

Over 20,000 people displaced in southeast Myanmar suffering food shortage ‘emergency’ (Myanmar Now)

Burma Campaign UK

Zoya Phan (Wikipedia)

Undaunted: An Interview with Zoya Phan (Open Society Foundation)

Chris Sidoti (Wikipedia)

Chris Sidoti (Australian Catholic University)

Young People for Development Karenland

Young People for Development Australia

Speakers: Zoya Phan, Chris Sidoti and Kwi Kwith, Tuesday 17 May 2022.

World – The plight of the Rohingya people

A social enquiry on the Rohingya issue

This month’s news bulletins are overflowing with stories of Myanmar’s Rohingya people fleeing violence and seeking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.

“Baby X was born nine days ago just after his family lost everything they owned,” a United Nations High Commission on Refugees report says.

“They burnt our house and drove us out by shooting. We walked for three days through the jungle. That’s where he was born,” said his father Mohamed, gesturing to the puckered bundle of life.

270,000  people have already fled their burning villages, according to this SBS report.

Now Rohingya Muslim insurgents in Myanmar have declared a one-month unilateral ceasefire to ease the humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine state, BBC News says.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) said the truce would start on Sunday, urging Mynamar’s army to lay down weapons as well.

Arsa attacks on police on 25 August led to a ferocious military response.

Watch raw footage of the events on YouTube here:

Burning Rohingya villages

New fires in empty Rohingya villages


What information do you have about these events? Do you know anyone from Myanmar/Burma? Or from neighbouring countries, e.g. Bangladesh, India, Thailand… How  do they explain what has happened?


What do you think about these events?

What are others saying?

Pope Francis calls for end to violence against Rohingya (Vatican Radio)

U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres Urges Myanmar to Give the Rohingya Legal Status (Time)

Kevin Rudd, Aung San Suu Kyi Faces An Almost Impossible Dilemma. Don’t Give Up On Her. (Buzzfeed)

Britain Betrayed Rohingya After They Helped Them Defeat Japan in World War II (Muslim Stories)


What can we do?

Donate to UNHCR relief efforts?

Can we ask our government leaders to take action?