Over 11,000 Displaced, Killed in Latest Burma Attacks

The latest attacks in Western and Northern Karen state by the Burma army has caused the displacement and deaths of more than 11,000 Burmese civilians in recent weeks.

|TOP|Reports indicate that homes and rice barns have been burned and landmines laid to prevent people from returning to their villages, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide on Apr. 26. Moreover, bodies of several victims have been found, some severely mutilated, including the body of a beheaded middle-aged man.

The most recent report by the relief team Free Burma Rangers described events of when the Burma Army attacked civilians fleeing their village on Mar. 27.

“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,” according to an FBR report released on Apr. 19.

At least 11 civilians were shot and died. One survivor 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?”

|AD|Burma has been ruled by a military dictatorship since 1962. The current military regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), is committing “gross” violations of human rights, particularly against ethnic nationalities in Burma, according to CSW.

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 labor, forced conscription of child soldiers, use of human minesweepers, torture and killings continues to be reported regularly.

FBR says the “immediate” need is for rice and medicine for the displaced civilians. The relief team also believes that the situation in the area is now “worse than at any time since the offensives of 1997.”

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 world’s media.”

Jennifer Riley
Christian Today Correspondent