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CSW Reports Mass Displacement of Burmese Civilians

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) criticized Myanmar for its role in displacing and killing its civilians in the Northern and Western Karen state in recent weeks.
( [email protected] ) Apr 27, 2006 08:49 AM EDT

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) criticized Myanmar for its role in displacing and killing its civilians in the Northern and Western Karen state in recent weeks.

Government troops have reportedly destroyed homes, burned rice barns and laid landmines to discourage villagers from returning, according to the organization’s report made April 26.

Over 11,000 civilians have left their homes, fleeing into the surrounding jungle. Another 15,000 have sought refuge in neighboring Thailand.

"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," said CSW chief executive, Mervyn Thomas.

CSW also reported the discovery of several victims, some whose bodies were mutilated including a beheaded middle-age man.

A separate report released by the Free Burma Rangers described similar events, April 19, when the military attacked fleeing villagers.

Amongst those killed in the Mar. 27 incident included Saw Maw Keh and his 80-year-old mother. The man was carrying his mother when they were fired upon by Burmese soldiers waiting on a ridge near the village.

His 9-year-old daughter was also wounded, but apparently survived the attack. At least 11 civilians were killed in the ambush.

One survivor later wrote, "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?"

Myanmar’s military regimes, coming to power in 1962, have fought against numerous ethnic minority groups in the past decade. A temporary truce was initiated between 17 groups and former junta member, Gen. Khin Nyunt, but ended when the general was ousted in 2004.

FBR added to its April report that troops have destroyed crops and mined villages in an attempt to prevent civilians from assisting guerillas.

The current junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has since then been accused of committing "gross" violations of human rights, especially against Burma’s ethnic minorities, by various human rights monitors including Human Rights Watch and CSW.

"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 CSW chief executive concluded.

"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 world’s media."

Since 1996, over 2,500 villages have been destroyed in eastern Burma. Human rights monitors regularly report widespread, systematic rape, forced labor, forced conscription of child soldiers, use of human minesweepers, torture and killings. Over one million people remain displaced.