World Urged to Intervene As Attacks on Karen Civilians Continue
10 March 2010: Ethnic Karen community from ten countries around the world have issued a joint appeal yesterday asking for the United Nations Security Council to demand that Burma’s military regime immediately cease ongoing attacks on civilians in eastern Burma.
Karen communities from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States, in a statement in observation of the Global Day of Action said that more than 2,000 Karens civilians have been displaced since January due to the attacks by the Burma Army that has primarily targeted civilians on its advancing path.
The advancing Burmese troops are being accused of deliberately targeting civilians by shelling on a school, shooting Karen civilians on sight, destroying homes and even beheading one Karen civilian, among many other allegations of human rights abuses.
The fresh allegations come amidst calls by international rights groups to put the leaders of Burma’s military regime on world criminal tribunal to answer for alleged international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Karen communities also urged governments in their respective countries to support the institution of UN Commission Inquiry into serious crimes in Burma.
Karens are one of the largest ethnic groups in Burma and have been waging an armed resistance movement against the successive central Burmese governments for over the last six decades. They say that the military regime’s renewed attacks on the Karens in recent months are only a reflection of the Burmese junta’s plans to wipe out their people ahead of its planned elections this year, largely seen by the world community as an attempt to legitimize continued military rule.
“The new wave of attacks is linked to the Burmese dictatorship’s fake elections due later this year,” the joint statement reads. They point out that not only will the new military-backed constitution and its resulting elections fail to protect the rights of the ethnic people; it will mean a “death sentence” for ethnic diversity in Burma.
To alleviate the humanitarian consequences of ongoing Burmese attacks, the group also asked world governments, including the European Union, to quickly respond to the needs of Karen civilians by providing them live-saving supplies such as food, medicine and shelter.
Regarded as the longest-running insurgency movement in the world, the Karens, organized under the Karen National Union (KNU) have maintained that their ultimate political goal is autonomy within a federal form of government. “We desire genuine democracy, peace and national reconciliation, but not military threats and attacks by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) army to destroy our homeland and our dreams for a peaceful federal Burma.”