Intensified Attacks on Civilians Prompt Appeal for World Intervention
17 February 2010: New military offensives against ethnic Karens in eastern Burma by the military regime have prompted frantic appeals from the Karen National Union (KNU).
The world’s longest-running insurgency movement is issuing a rare appeal asking for world intervention to stop the killing of innocent civilians and the displacement of thousands of ethnic Karen villagers.
The KNU says that as many as 2,500 villagers have recently been displaced and forced into hiding in the jungles after fresh attacks by the Burmese army, which has also burnt down villages on its advancing path.
“On February 7, 2010, the troops of the Burmese Army entered two Karen villages in Ler Doh (Kyaukkyi) Township, Kler Lwee Htoo District and burned them down. As a consequence, seventy-four houses were destroyed. People in eleven villages have been forced to flee for their lives,” the KNU says in a statement released from its supreme headquarters on Tuesday.
Internally displaced inside Burma, thousands of Karens are now in desperate need of aid.
The new attacks came at the same time that Thai authorities were threatening mass deportation of Karen refugees to Burma.
“The [deportation] would place returnees at serious risk of human rights abuse and landmines,” warned the New York-based Human Rights Watch earlier this month.
The KNU is calling on the United Nations Security Council to step in to prevent further suffering and loss of civilian lives as a result of the continuing military offensives in eastern Burma. It also urges the larger world community to pay attention to the ongoing atrocities and to take action to assist the civilian victims.
Although regularly labeled as a separatist group by the military junta and at times by some international media, the KNU reiterated in its official statement on Tuesday its ultimate political goal is to attain Karen autonomy under a federal political system.
“Unlike the SPDC, we are keen to comply with the UN calls for dialogue. We are ready to enter into genuine tri-partite dialogue at any time,” the KNU says.
Pointing to the brutal and violent ways in which the Burmese military regime has launched its military campaigns against the ethnic groups, the KNU warns that the international community should not follow the agenda of the junta, but instead push the military junta to innitiate an inclusive political dialogue in accordance with the demands made by the UN Security Council in 2007.