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CSW (02/20/06) – Fresh attacks have been carried out by the Burma Army against Karen villagers in Taungoo district, resulting in several killings, arrests and the use of forced labour.

On February 15, the mutilated body of an unidentified person was found in Bla Khi area, according to the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP). The victim’s throat had been slit and left hand cut off, in an area where the Burma Army had been operating.

Between February 8 and 14, at least 135 people were taken from Kaw Thay Der, Kaw Law Kar, Ku Thay Der and Sar Bar Law Khi villages for forced labour, CIDKP reports. On February 6, three men were arrested from Pau Pa and Yer Loe villages, and on February 14, Burma Army Infantry Battalion 35 arrested a further five men from Pau Pa. Reports have also been received of looting and extortion.

Reports emerged from Karenni State of continuing offensives in January. Three Karenni families fleeing for their lives from the Burma Army were interviewed by the Free Burma Rangers. One of those on the run said: “The Burma Army and their helpers … were on their way to kill me. They had already killed one of my friends and cut off his head … At that time they captured me and three others from our village … as well as three from other villages. We were gathered together from ten surrounding villages for a prayer meeting when the Burma Army forces appeared and captured some of us.

“We were tied up, beaten, punched then we were given electric shocks to our body. They struck us with rifle butts and one of them used a pistol to beat us. One man’s jaw was broken, one man’s skull was broken and for me I was not able to endure the torture. They did this to us one by one. One of us was then forced to go with the soldiers and my friend … was killed. I may have been killed just as my friend was but I managed to escape … I do not want to take revenge. I am just a villager, I will move away from them.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We receive reports on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis of continuing crimes against humanity in Burma . The attacks are sickening – not only the use of forced labour, but rape, killings, beheadings and the grotesque mutilation of bodies. For far too long the world has failed to pay enough attention to the ongoing atrocities in Burma . The United Nations Security Council, the Association of South-East Asian Nations and others in the international community must make it a priority to bring an end to the genocidal dictatorship in Burma this year. We will be working tirelessly to help make that happen.”