Kaw Too Lei - A Peaceful Land Since gaining formal independence in 1948, Burma has experienced a tumultuous period during which many of the countryâ€™s ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of the military-backed government. The Karen are one of these groups occupying a strip of land that skirts the Thai-Burmese borderâ€”a region that is both economically and logistically significant as it provides a vital trade link between the two nations. For over 66 years the Karen have fought for their autonomy. Their villages have been attacked, torched, and littered with landmines to prevent residents from returning; leading many in states of economic hardship and effectively cut off from basic services and support. Despite this, the Karen have persevered; rebuilding their villages and restoring livelihoods. Ever vigilant, they rely on a dated arsenal and sometimes crude, homemade weapons to protect their territory and themselves from the threat of further attacks.