CSW (04/26/06) Burma Army attacks in Western and Northern Karen State have caused over 11,000 people to flee their homes in recent weeks. Homes and rice barns have been burned, and landmines laid, to stop people returning to their villages. The bodies of several victims have been found, some severely mutilated. Saw Po De, a 40 year-old man, was beheaded in Ker Der Gah village. A nine year-old girl, Naw Eh Ywa Paw, was shot, and her father and grandmother killed.
There is an immediate need for rice and medicine for those who are displaced, according to the relief team the Free Burma Rangers, which claims that the situation in the area is now worse than at any time since the offensives of 1997.
In their most recent report, the Free Burma Rangers described the events of March 27, when the Burma Army attacked civilians fleeing their village. The people had fled the attacking Burma Army who were sweeping the entire area They did not know the Burma Army was waiting for them . The shock of having a line of troops open fire at point blank range must have been tremendous.
At least 11 civilians have been shot dead. One of the survivors said: The Burma Army waited in a prepared position to kill villagers. They waited until they were only 10 yards away and opened fire on a man carrying his mother, as well as the families and children behind him. What kind of people, what kind of system, can do this?
Another observer summed up the situation: The Burma Army soldiers shot at the families who were slowly climbing up toward them. . This was not a case of startled soldiers shooting wildly at people by mistake. This was not a case of soldiers shooting at a large group of people from hundreds of yards away. Burma Army soldiers shot at a father, carrying his sick grandmother, and walking with his 9-year old daughter, from point blank range. And they continued to fire at the other people as they ran away
The Free Burma Rangers also reported finding another body, in a different area. This man was found dead on the side of a trail. He was not part of the group described above and had died more recently, the report claims. He had been tortured with one of his eyes pulled out and his nose cut off. No one knows who he is. He may be one of the men captured and missing from another village in a different valley. We are trying to find out. This is a tragic situation and is tragic not only for the people involved here but for all of Burma .
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: The situation in Karen State is clearly deteriorating into a humanitarian crisis. The Burma Army is hunting down and shooting innocent civilians and, as a result, thousands have been displaced. The international community must not stand idly by and allow this to continue. The United Nations Security Council must address the crisis in Burma urgently, and use its power to require the Burmese regime to stop the slaughter and engage in tripartite dialogue with the democratic and ethnic groups. The international community should also find ways to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to those trapped in the conflict zones, so far unreached by the major aid agencies and unreported by the worlds media.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Free Burma Rangers reports can be found at www.freeburmarangers.org
Burma has been ruled by a military dictatorship since 1962. Elections were held in 1990 and won by the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest. Over 1,100 prisoners of conscience are in jail in Burma .
The current military regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), is perpetrating gross violations of human rights, particularly against the ethnic nationalities, the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Mon, Chin, Kachin, Arakan and Rohingya. Over one million people are internally displaced, and since 1996 over 2,500 villages have been destroyed in eastern Burma alone. Evidence of widespread, systematic rape, forced labour, forced conscription of child soldiers, use of human minesweepers, torture and killings continues to be reported regularly.
In September, 2005 the international law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary published Threat to the Peace: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in Burma , commissioned by former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu. A briefing was held at the UN Security Council in December, 2005. CSW is calling for a full UN Security Council discussion on Burma , leading to a resolution. For a copy of the report see