BosNewsLife – At least 1,000 Karen villagers in Burma have been forced to flee their homes in the latest government-led offensive against predominantly Christian ethnic communities, human rights investigators said Tuesday, November 29.
Lord David Alton, a founder of Christian human rights group Jubilee Campaign and Patron of Karen Aid reportedly told the House of Lords that “the topicality and immediacy of the debate [on Burma] is underlined by an e-mail I received concerning events at 9 o’clock local time [Monday, November 28,] when in Hee Daw Hgaw, village, at least 30 houses were burnt. Just two days ago in Taungoo district, 10 shells were launched on Htaw Hta Htoo township,” he said in published remarks to the House of Lords.
He made the remarks as the United Kingdom government has pledged its support for United Nations Security Council action on Burma , said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a key advocacy group dealing with religious rights issues.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister David Triesman said that the government supports “the involvement of the UN in helping to address Burma ‘s problems.” He said the cabinet also supported ” US efforts to get the UN Security Council to address Burma ” which is also known as Myanmar .
Forces of the Burmese military leadership, an unelected group of generals known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), have launched several attacks against the mainly Christian Karen community despite reports earlier this year of a ceasefire, BosNewsLife established in Burma in August.
Up to 1.5 million people are believed to be internally displaced. Human rights watchers have linked the attacks to the military’s opposition towards Christianity, which it allegedly views as a threat to its ideology and powerbase.
The outnumbered Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) has fought a bitter battle for survival and an autonomous region within Burma against forces of the SPDC, which has governed the Asian nation by decree without a constitution or legislature since 1988.
“The Burmese military have for years been conducting widespread and systematic atrocities against Karen, Karenni and Shan civilians including rape, summary executions, torture, disappearances, extortion, forced labor and the systematic destruction of villages, crops, livestock and food stores deliberately creating a humanitarian catastrophe,” Lord Alton said.
CSW’s Honorary President Baroness Caroline Cox, who visited the Thai-Burmese border recently said that in addition to the Karen, Karenni and Shan, Chin and Kachin peoples near the border with India are also persecuted.
“As a predominantly Christian people, they have experienced religious persecution, with the systematic destruction of churches and the crosses they build at crossroads and on hilltops. Some have been forced to contribute to the replacement of their churches by pagodas,” she said in remarks obtained by BosNewsLife
“Many have had to flee into neighboring India to survive, living in dire conditions in rural areas or urban so-called camps in cities.”
The Burmese government has rejected international criticism towards its human rights record as part of Western propaganda against the increasingly isolated country. It has so far refused to give up power to Burma ‘s most high-profile political prisoner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Nobel Peace Prize of the National League for Democracy (NLD) which won the 1990 elections but elected members of parliament have been denied the right to take their seats, and instead have been jailed or exiled. Hundreds of NLD members are reportedly in prison, and most have been tortured, CSW said.