Kayah State

Kayah State
Kayah State
—  State  —
Myanma transcription(s)
 – Burmese ka. ya: prany nai

Location of Kayah State in Burma
Coordinates: 19°15′N 97°20′E / 19.25°N 97.333°E / 19.25; 97.333Coordinates: 19°15′N 97°20′E / 19.25°N 97.333°E / 19.25; 97.333
Country  Burma
Region Southeast
Capital Loikaw
 – Chief Minister Khin Maung Oo (Bu Yei)[1] (USDP)
 – Total 11,670 km2 (4,505.8 sq mi)
 – Total 259,000
 – Density 22.2/km2 (57.5/sq mi)
 – Ethnicities Kayah, Kayin, Padaung, Bamar, Shan, Pa-O
 – Religions Buddhism, Christianity, animism
Time zone MST (UTC+06:30)

Kayah State (Burmese: ကယားပြည်နယ်, pronounced [kəjá pjìnɛ̀] formerly, Karenni State) is a state of Myanmar. Situated in eastern Myanmar, it is bounded on the north by Shan State, on the east by Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, and on the south and west by Kayin State. It lies approximately between 18° 30' and 19° 55' north latitude and between 94°40' and 97° 93' east longitude. The area is 11,670 km2 (4,510 sq mi). Its capital is Loikaw (also spelt Loi-kaw). The estimated population in 1998 was approximately 207,357, according to UNICEF. It is inhabited primarily by the Karenni ethnic group, also known as Red Karen or Kayah, a Sino-Tibetan people.



19th Century and British Rule

The Karenni States was the name given to the three states of Kantarawadi, Kyebogyi and Bawlake. These states were located south of the Federated Shan States and east of British Burma. According to the 1930 census, the states had a total population of 58,761 with Kantarawadi (3,161 square miles or 8,190 square kilometres), 30,677, Kyebogyi (790 square miles or 2,000 square kilometres), 14,282 and Bawlake (568 square miles or 1,470 square kilometres), 13,802.

The British government recognized and guaranteed the independence of the Karenni States in an 1875 treaty with Burmese King Mindon Min, by which both parties recognized the area as belonging neither to Konbaung Burma nor to Great Britain. Consequently, the Karenni States were never fully incorporated into British Burma. The Karenni States were recognized as tributary to British Burma in 1892, when their rulers agreed to accept a stipend from the British government. In the 1930s, the Mawchi Mine in Bawlake was the most important source of tungsten in the world.


The Constitution of the Union of Burma in 1947 proclaimed that the three Karenni States be amalgamated into a single constituent state of the union, called Karenni State. It also provided for the possibility of secession from the Union after 10 years.

In August 1948, the Karenni leader U Bee Htu Re was assassinated by central government militia for his opposition to the inclusion of the Karenni States in the Union of Burma. An armed uprising swept the state that has continued to the present-day.

In 1952, the former Shan state of Mong Pai (1901. pop - 19,351) was added to Karenni State, and the whole renamed Kayah State, possibly with the intent of driving a wedge between the Karenni (in Kayah State) and the rest of the Karen people (in Karen State), both fighting for independence.

In 1957, pro-independence groups already active in the area formed the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), backed by its own army, the Karenni Army (KA). Apart from a brief ceasefire in 1995, the KA has been fighting ever since. Rivals to the KNPP include the leftist Kayan New Land Party (KNLP), and the Karenni National People's Liberation Front (KNPLF), both of which are now allied with the Myanmar military.

Post 1988

In 1996, Myanmar's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) of stepped up its campaign to crush Karenni independence with a population transfer program, forcibly moving villagers to designated relocation sites to deprive the pro-independence forces of bases of support. The Myanmar government has been accused of massive human rights violations in the region.


Kayah State is located in the eastern part of Myanmar. The Salween River flows through Kayah State. Balu Chaung, called Nam Pilu in local language, flows Inle Lake and converges with the Salween in southern Kayah State. Lawpita Dam, built in 1950 as a bilateral reparation agreement with Japan, is a major hydroelectric production dam which produces a quarter of the total hydroelectric power generation in Myanmar.[2]


Figurines of 9 of the subgroups of the Kayah.

Ethnographers classify anywhere from seven to ten ethnic groups (not including ethnic sub-groups) as native to Kayah State. In addition, Shan, Intha, and Bamar live in the north and Pa-O in surrounding hills. Each group is also known by more than one name. Clearly, ethnicity in Kayah State is a complex issue, made more complex by the current political situation. According to the 1983 census conducted by UN and the Burmese government, the Kayah composed 56.12%, while Bamar (17.58%), Shan (16.66%), Karen (6.45%), mixed races (2.08%), and other groups formed minorities. Ethnolinguists distinguish the following linguistic groups in Kayah State:

  1. Karenni (Red Karen)
  2. Padaung (Kayan)
  3. Bwe
  4. Geba
  5. Manumanaw
  6. Yantale
  7. Zayein (Lahta)
  8. Geko
  9. Yinbaw
  10. Paku


As with many other states in Myanmar, which have ethnic minority populations, Kayah state has its own fair share of alleged human rights abuses by the Burmese military junta and the Burmese armed forces.

It has been alleged that villagers live under the constant threat of rape, beatings, arbitrary arrest or execution, conscription as slave labor for the Myanmar army, and having their food and possessions taken without compensation.

"The SPDC also arbitrarily closes roads for non-military travel in Karenni State, further restricting villagers movements. Landmines are often planted along roads to prohibit the villagers' movements. Villagers, fearful of landmines and potentialinjuries, further restrict their own movements.

Even with a valid travel pass villagers are still vulnerable to abuses and exploitation. There have been reports of arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and rapes of villagers who have had permission to travel. Villagers have also been shot at when they have been outside of their communities."[3]:[27]

It has also been alleged that the relocation centers have inadequate access to water, food, medical services, and educational facilities. An estimated 50,000 Karenni people classified as IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and thousands more are in refugee camps in Thailand.

"Currently there are 4,800 IDPs in eight forced relocation sites throughout Karenni State. These relocation sites are a result of the Burmese military regimes mass relocation program in Karenni State in 1996. Following the collapse of the ceasefire between SLORC and the KNPP, tens of thousands of people were forcibly evicted from their homes during this program.

"Most relocation sites are located close to military camps, army bases and along main roads. This increases the vulnerability of exploitation and abuse. IDPs are subjected to force labour demands from the soldiers and arbitrary taxation (essentially theft). IDPs are also vulnerable to torture; murder and rape by soldiers and their movements are heavily restricted.

"The relocation sites are also inadequate to sustain a healthy and economically viable livelihood. The majority of relocation sites do not have sanitation facilities, electricity or access to safe drinking water. The land surrounding the sites is often barren and over populated. As productive land has usually been claimed by the original inhabitants or confiscated by the soldiers, opportunities to farm are limited. There are also very few employment opportunities in forced relocation sites."[4]


The state capital is Loikaw. The state is divided into 2 districts (Bawlake and Loikaw) which are divided into seven townships with 106 wards and villages.


Kayah State is served by Loikaw Airport.


Kayah State has a primarily extraction-based economy. The main crop is rice, mostly irrigated, with other important crops including millet, maize, sesame, groundnut, garlic, and vegetables. Mineral products include alabaster, tin, and tungsten. Valuable woods such as teak and pine were once produced, but the forests have largely been stripped bare by illegal logging authorized by the Tatmadaw (Burmese military). The hydroelectric power plant at Lawpita Falls outside of Loikaw is of strategic importance, as it supplies over 20% of Myanmar's total electrical power.

Kayah State has theoretical tourist potential, if the political situation is resolved. The state has rugged mountains, river streams, lakes and waterfalls; however, transport and communication are difficult. At present, Kayah State is open to outsiders by permit only, which can be difficult to obtain depending on the current military situation. Even with a permit, usually only a 25 km (16 mi) radius around Loikaw is allowed. The central government effectively controls only Loikaw and parts of the western half of the state.


Educational opportunities in Myanmar are extremely limited outside the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay. According to official statistics, Kayah State has the lowest number of public schools in the country.[5] Loikaw University is the state's main university.

AY 2002-2003 Primary Middle High
Schools 338 33 12
Teachers 1565 352 160
Students 29,200 13,200 4900

Health care

Kayah State, most of Myanmar, has poor health care facilities due to the alleged mismanagement by the Burmese military junta. Although health care is nominally free, in reality patients have to pay for medicine and treatment even in public clinics and hospitals. Public hospitals lack many of the basic facilities and equipment. As Kayah State is perhaps the most isolated state in Myanmar, it has great difficulties in addressing health concerns. The following is a summary of the public health care system in the state.[6]

2002–2003 # Hospitals # Beds
Specialist hospitals 0 0
General hospitals with specialist services 1 200
General hospitals 6 141
Health clinics 9 144
Total 16 485


  1. ^ "Division and State Administrations". Alternative Asean Network on Burma. 8 July 2011. http://www.altsean.org/Research/Regime%20Watch/Executive/DivisionsStatesAdmins.php. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  2. ^ http://www.burmariversnetwork.org/dam-projects/lawpita-hydropower.html
  3. ^ "Living Ghosts: The spiraling repression of the Karenni population under the Burmese military junta." Burma Issues, March 2008.
  4. ^ "Living Ghosts" 78.
  5. ^ "Education statistics by level and by State and Division". Myanmar Central Statistical Organization. http://www.etrademyanmar.com/STATS/s1701.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  6. ^ "Hospitals and Dispensaries by State and Division". Myanmar Central Statistical Organization. http://www.etrademyanmar.com/STATS/s0413.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kayah State Cultural Museum — The Kayah State Cultural Museum is a museum that display bronze drums used in wedding and funeral occasions, stone beads, household utensils, traditional looms, traditional dresses, silverware, weapons,paintings and musical instruments of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Kayah — may refer to:* Kayah State, a state of Myanmar. * Kayah people, a Sino Tibetan people. * Kayah language * Kayah (singer), Polish singer …   Wikipedia

  • Kayah-Staat — 19.21666666666797.4 Koordinaten: 19° N, 97° O ကယား‌ပ္ရည္‌နယ္‌ Kayah Staat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kayah (Karenni) State —    One of Burma s 14 states and divisions, with an area of 11,733 square kilometers (4,530 square miles), making it the smallest state and the second smallest of Burma s regional jurisdictions. The population was estimated at 266,000 in 2000… …   Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar)

  • Kayah — Kayah, también llamado Karenni es un estado de Birmania. Se encuentra en el oriente del país y limita al norte con el estado de Shan, al este con la provincia tailandesa de Mae Hong Son y al sur y el oeste con el estado de Kayin. Su superficie… …   Wikipedia Español

  • State Peace and Development Council — Burma (Myanmar) This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Burma …   Wikipedia

  • State Peace and Development Council — (Birmanisch: ; Aussprache: [nàiNŋàNdɔ̀ éiʤáN θàja yéi n̥ḭN pʰṵNpʰyo yéi kaùNsì]), abgekürzt SPDC, ist der offizielle Name der ehemaligen Militärregierung von Myanmar (des ehemaligen Birma). Nach den blutigen Unruhen am 8. August 1988 gegen die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • State Peace and Development Council —    (SPDC)    Established on November 15, 1997, the State Peace and Development Council is the successor of the original post 1988 martial law regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). In Burmese, its name is Naing ngandaw Aye… …   Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar)

  • State —    Pyi ne (plural: pyi ne myar) in the Burmese (Myanmar) language; refers to the major unit of territorial administration below the national level (along with divisions) and above the district and township levels. There are seven states: Arakan… …   Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar)

  • Shan State — ရှမ်းပြည်နယ်   State   Myanma transcription(s)  – Burmese …   Wikipedia