By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News ServiceSURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) – Burma Army troops are continuing their offensive against Karen civilians, one of the country’s ethnic minorities.
Burma Army troops are continuing their offensive against Karen civilians, one of the country’s ethnic minorities.
Burma is in Southeast Asia.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported that according to the Free Burma Rangers, a relief organisation working in the area, soldiers from Light Infantry Battalions 542 and 544 attacked Ber Ka Lay Ko village in north-western Karen State on May 12. They reportedly captured, raped and killed a woman.
Three days later, troops attacked again as villagers worked in their fields. Many were able to flee due to the noise made by the Burma Army, but one hearing impaired man was unable to hear the attacking troops. He was shot and killed.
Another man was also shot dead, and one man was captured and executed. CSW reported that at least 14 other civilians from several villages in the area were captured.
The Burma Army is continuing its policy of forced labor. CSW reported that on May 16, according to the Free Burma Rangers, over 2,000 civilians were forced to carry rations for the Burma Army. On May 7, over 1,000 villagers were made to clear a new road between two Burma Army camps.
In a separate incident, Burma Army troops attacked villages in Papun District. A 27 year-old woman was killed while working in the fields. Her body was later burned by the soldiers.
These attacks are the latest in the Burma Army’s worst offensive against the Karen in a decade. On April 5, CSW reported, Burma Army troops mortared a village, killing a two year-old girl and injuring at least five people. In another district, villages have been shelled and burned, and farms destroyed.
Stuart Windsor, National Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said in a news release, “The continuing offensive against the Karen people, and the accompanying gross violations of human rights including torture and killings, are completely unacceptable. How much longer will the international community, including Burma’s neighbors, allow this to go on? The evidence is mounting, and efforts should be made to investigate crimes against humanity and genocide.”
CSW reported that in 2006 the Burma Army began its worst offensive against civilians in Karen State in almost a decade. Over 27,000 civilians were displaced in Karen State last year, and several thousand have been displaced so far this year. In 2006, over 86,000 were displaced in eastern Burma as a whole. Since 1996, over 3,000 villages in eastern Burma have been destroyed by the Burma Army, and it is estimated that one million people are internally displaced.
CSW is a human rights organization which works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for everyone. For more information, go to www.csw.org.uk.