Burma Army Launches Fresh Attacks Against Karen Civilians

The Burma Army has launched fresh attacks against villages in northern Papun District, Karen State in recent days, killing at least three people and displacing more than 1,000, reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

On March 20, Burma Army troops attacked Tha Da Der and Hta Kaw To Baw villages, causing more than 400 civilians to flee into hiding.

On March 18, villages in Toungoo District were shelled, and on March 15 troops from Burma Army Infantry Battalions 379 and 380 attacked Saw Ka Der in southern Mon Township, causing at least 600 villagers to flee into the jungle.

According to the Free Burma Rangers, "These are the most recent examples of increased Burma Army activity throughout the three northern districts of Karen State: since the end of February it has launched multiple attacks in villages, boosting supplies to its camps, increasing its use of forced labour and severely restricting the movement of people in villages under its control."

On February 21, troops from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 590 killed two Karen men, Saw Echo Win Naing from Paw Pi Der village and Saw San Myint from Htee Htaw Loh, close to the Shwegyin River.

Three days later, troops from Light Infantry Battalion 378 shot and killed 22 year-old Saw Mah Sha Htoo, a student, and wounded his brother Saw Hser Nay Say as they were returning home from buying rice.

The Free Burma Rangers report that villages in the area are running low on rice supplies, and are facing increasing extortion and demands for forced labour.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide's National Director, Stuart Windsor, said: "These reports reach us almost daily. The situation in Karen State, and in other parts of Burma, is desperate. We would urge the European Union to strengthen the Common Position on Burma, when it is reviewed next month, in order to send the regime a strong, clear message that its current behaviour - the killing, the rape, the torture - cannot go on."