International Development MP Reveals Human Rights Violations in Burma

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, returned last week from the Thailand-Burma border, where he accompanied Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) to hear the testimonies of Karen Internally Displaced People (IDPs) just inside the Burma border.

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, returned last week from the Thailand-Burma border, where he accompanied Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) to hear the testimonies of Karen Internally Displaced People (IDPs) just inside the Burma border.

Prior to the visit, Mr Mitchell met with representatives of Burma's ruling junta in Rangoon, the first time they have met with a senior British politician in a decade.

He told U Kyaw Thu, the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and a former brigadier general, that the regime running Burma is "wicked and illegitimate".

The delegation heard the stories of several of the almost 3,000 Karen people who have fled to this camp on the Salween River in the past year.

One woman told how her son was beheaded. Another described how her husband was tortured, tied to a tree, his eyes gouged out and then drowned. A third recalled how her husband was killed - his eyes torn out, his ears and lips cut off, CSW has told Christian Today.

CSW's Advocacy Officer for South Asia, Benedict Rogers, then travelled on to the Mon people, the first time CSW has visited them. He met various civil society, political and relief and development groups, including the Human Rights Foundation of Monland and the Mon Women's Organisation.

He heard evidence of the continuing use of forced labour and land confiscation, despite a ceasefire between the main armed resistance, the New Mon State Party (NMSP), and Burma's military regime since 1995.

Andrew Mitchell MP said: "Ei Htu Ta is a harrowing place, full of tales of torture and death. People have been driven from their villages by rampaging soldiers and forced to trek for weeks through the jungle to reach this place of relative sanctuary.

"Burma's military regime is carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Karen people, and is committing crimes against humanity which the world should no longer ignore. A number of courageous Non-Governmental Organisations are fighting a lonely struggle providing much-needed humanitarian aid and advocacy for these people.

"Christian Solidarity Worldwide and a number of other Christian groups are playing a crucial role. I am deeply impressed and inspired by their efforts, and they deserve the support of the international community."

Commenting on the trip, Benedict Rogers says: "We were pleased to be able to give a member of the Shadow Cabinet an opportunity to hear and see the horrific truth about the suffering in Burma. We were also delighted to establish contact with the Mon people for the first time. The evidence gathered on this visit shows that the regime's violation of human rights is as relentless as it is grotesque.

"We are determined to expose the truth and to put pressure on the international community to act. The European Union Common Position, to be renewed in April, should be strengthened in light of the lack of progress and the continuing violations in Burma."

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