BosNewLife (03/21/06) — Over 3,000 terrified predominantly Christian Karen villagers were in hiding Monday, March 20, after new attacks by the Burmese Army in Western and Northern Karen State, a human rights group said.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which has investigated the situation in the region, said an unknown number of civilians were killed and several villages were burned in the latest offensive.
The Burmese army “is laying more landmines in the area, and forcing those villagers who have not fled to work as porters for the military,” CSW claimed. The reports seem consistent with a BosNewsLife investigation inside Burma , also known as Myanmar , last year.
CSW said the fighting began March 9 when soldiers from three battalions attacked “Klaw Kee village in the Saw Ka Der area of Mon Township , western Karen State .” One 38 year-old man, Saw Maw Sae Kya, was shot dead.
The troops then attacked Maw La Kee village, where they burned down seven houses, CSW said, citing sources in the region. “At least 1,140 villagers have fled Mon Township and are hiding in the jungle. Constant Burma Army patrols in the area mean they cannot return to their homes,” the group added. In Ler Doh Township , similar attacks took place, “forcing 1,153 villagers from Kwey Der village into hiding,” CSW said in a statement to BosNewsLife.
Over the last two weeks attacks have reportedly also taken place against civilians in Toungoo District, in northern Karen State , “causing the displacement of over 700. Last month a further 640 were displaced, and they are unable to reach the Thai border due to Burma Army patrols,” CSW claimed.
It said that since December 2005 “at least a thousand people have fled to the safety of the refugee camps in Thailand and many more may follow.” CSW quoted another advocacy group, the Free Burma Rangers, as saying that “these attacks reflect the ongoing effort of the Burmese army to break the will of the people and control them. The murder of porters and the laying of landmines to terrorize and block food to a civilian population are two of the tactics used in the strategy” of the military government “to dominate, assimilate and exploit the ethnic people of Burma …”
CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “These latest attacks are tragic in themselves, but even more tragic when added to the litany of violations perpetrated by the ruling military regime over the past half a century. For too long the world has sat by and allowed these attacks to continue. It is time now for the international community to say enough is enough, and to act to stop the genocide unfolding.”
The current military regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has been accused of attacks against predominantly Christian communities including the Karen,
Karenni, Shan, Mon, Chin, Kachin, Arakan and Rohingya.
Over one million people are believed to be internally displaced, and since 1996 over 2,500 villages have been destroyed in eastern Burma alone, CSW said. Attacks against Christians have been linked to fear within the regime to lose its power base. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Burma ).