Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hsan Pyote Killed in Ambush

Around 8 am on the morning of June 26, boats carrying DKBA troops coming back to Shwe Kokeko were fired upon by unknown armed groups on arrival at Maw Kala Kin.

The report said that Hsan Pyote aka San Pyone, an officer of DKBA was killed and about 4 DKBA soldiers were injured. The exact number killed and injured could not be confirmed.

The shootings reportedly came from the Thai side and the DKBA blamed the KNU for the ambush. The KNU however denied saying that no KNLA troops were operating in that area at that time.

Hsan Pyote was one of the masterminds in arranging the assassination of the Karen National Union General Secretary P’Dho Mahn Sha La Phan in February 2008.

There were altogether 10 boats but only 2 reached their destination and the DKBA troops were on their way back after taking Brigade 7 of the KNLA. Maw Kala Kin, where the ambush took place, is the base where Htain Maung’s Peace Council, which split from the KNU, settled after it’s peace agreement with SPDC.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thailand Forcing Karen Refugees Back to Burma

June 21, 2009

The Burma Campaign UK today called on the government of Thailand to stop forcing Karen families who have fled a new military offensive back into Burma.

According to Burma Campaign UK sources, 3 Karen families have been forced back into Burma, and others are being placed under pressure to return.

Up to 6,000 Karen have fled a new military offensive by the Burmese Army and its allies, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. Most have fled to Thailand, and Thai authorities have been helping the refugees. However, now that there is less fighting in some places, Thai authorities apparently want the refugees to return to Burma.

“It is not just a question of whether or not there is gunfire and mortar bombs,” said Zoya Phan, International Coordinator at Burma Campaign UK. “The area that these people lived in is now under the control of the dictatorship, and any Karen returning will face the danger of severe human rights abuses. Only a week ago two teenage girls were raped and killed, one of them was eight months pregnant. Thailand must give the refugees sanctuary.”

More than 110,000 refugees are in refugee camps on the Thailand Burma border.

The Burma Campaign UK is calling on governments and the United Nations to put pressure on the dictatorship to end its military attacks in Eastern Burma, which have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. The Security Council discusses the protection of civilians in armed conflict when it meets on Thursday 26th June.

Questions that need answers by action.

June 21, 2009

Time and time again, the plight of the Karens in Burma have been ignored and neglected. While the joint forces of SPDC and DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army) are intensifying their offensive on the headquarters of Brigade 7 of the Karen National Liberation Army, the international community is highlighting only the imprisonment and trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her 64th birthday. On June 4 in its statement, The KHRG (Karen Human Rights Group) reminded The International Community not to neglect rural Burma in calling for Suu Kyi’s release.

It is true that Suu Kyi’s house arrest and her present trial are unjust. This indicates the generals’ insult and disrespect for the people of Burma. The aspiration of the majority of civilians in Burma is to see democracy and freedom prevail and it surely needs redress. However, dealing with the problems in Burma does not lie solely on the release of Suu Kyi and all political prisoners. US Senator Mitch McConnell made a statement on Suu Kyi’s 64th birthday saying that the best birthday present Suu Kyi can get for her birthday will be for the SPDC to free all political prisoners showing some good will. This statement is welcomed by all the people of Burma and those who wish to see democracy in Burma. However, we should not forget the ethnic minorities which made up nearly one-third of the population who are suffering without international recognition. Without addressing the plight of these minorities, Burma cannot obtain peace and prosperity through the process on national reconciliation.

Since the beginning of June, the troops comprising SPDC and DKBA launched fierce attacks on IDP (Internally Displaced People) villages in order to take the KNLA’s Brigade 7 headquarters. More than 4000 villagers, the majority of them animist and Buddhist farmers, have fled to Thailand. Many of the fleeing villagers had been working hard on their farms waiting to enjoy their fruits of labor but they had to leave everything behind. They had to flee, leaving all their hard work and livestock behind. Among these villagers are mothers with young babies, some only days old, in torn and ragged clothing. For the children, their school year has just started but all their learning materials were left behind. When the DKBA troops occupied their villages, they burnt down all the buildings including village schools and hospitals. These atrocities have been going on for so many years; not just today.

The curious questions here are why is The International Community so quiet about this matter? Why doesn’t the UN Security Council do anything about this situation? Why is the US Government, champion for democracy, human rights and dignity, still isn’t saying anything? Why doesn’t ASEAN have the courage to rebuke these generals? Don’t they see what is going on? Are they just turning a blind eye to what the dictators are doing in spite of the call for a tri-partite talk from the oppositions? When the internal conflicts of a country cannot be solved by the people themselves who are so helpless, will the world just leave them to their fate and ignore them? When will we get responses to these questions and witness actions taken?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Statement by KCBOs

Statement by Karen Community Based Organizations (KCBOs) on SPDC-DKBA Offensive
June 17, 2009

Burmese military attacks its people in order to secure power in 2010

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) attacked the Karen National Liberated Army Brigade 7 since the beginning of June. This has forced about 3,500 villagers to abandon their villages and flee for their lives in Thailand.

"The villagers were terrified from escaping for their lives. It is heartbreaking to see pregnant women and new born babies in this heavy rainy time struggling."Naw Hsa Moo , Karen Student Network Group Secretary.

The Karen CBOs call on the SPDC/DKBA to immediately cease the attacks in Pa-an district, withdraw their troops and let the villagers return to their villages to live a normal life.

We request the international community to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those recently displaced to Thailand and to support Karen CBOs efforts in providing emergency needs and to further support community development to those displaced civilians in Karen State.

We strongly urge the SPDC to stop all offensives in the border areas of Burma and to invite the Karen National Union to discuss the end to civil war in Karen State. We urge the SPDC to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, and to hold open tripartite dialogue with democratic forces and ethnic representatives.

The offensive is one of the indicators of how desperately the SPDC wants their 2010 election plan to have their desired outcome. It is clear that the SPDC is using 2009 to shut down all possible opposition to their plan to ensure that their hold on power is ratified by their highly undemocratic election process next year.

The SPDC has instructed the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and other ceasefire groups to secure the border by launching attacks against non ceasefire groups. The purpose of this offensive is to ensure control of the border, so that they can successfully carry out their sham elections in 2010. These groups have been given responsibility as border security guards.

Since the beginning of the rainy season this year, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC, Burma’s military regime) has been carrying out an offensive operation in Eastern Burma, which has led to massive displacement of Karen civilians to Thailand and within Eastern Burma. The offensive will lead to larger numbers of civilian deaths, and the displacement will increase the already high risk of all to landmine injuries, malaria, and maternal and infant death. The people of Eastern Burma have been suffering under one of the most brutal military regime for many years. This offensive is endangering the lives of thousands.

The Karen CBOs compose of ; Karen Youth Organization, Karen Student Network Group, Karen Woman Organization, Karen University Student Group, Backpack Health Worker Team, Federation of Trade Union Kawthoolei, Karen Education Department, Karen Health and Welfare Department, Karen Information Centre, Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People, Karen area Burma Issues, Karen Environmental Group, Karen Volunteer Service. Along the Thai Burma Border and is leading the effort to provide humanitarian needs to the newly arrived families in Thailand fleeing from these attacks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Call from KWO

Karen Women Organization
Email: kwocentral@tttmaxne t.com
Website: www.karenwomen. org <http://www.karenwom en.org>

Karen Women’s Organization calls for increased international pressure to end SPDC military Offensives.

16th, June 2009

The Karen Women’s Organization is gravely concerned at the renewed displacement and suffering of civilians caused by the Burmese regime’s latest military offensive in Pa-An District of Karen State, and calls for increased international pressure to bring an immediate end to the fighting.

Since June 2, 2009, troops from five battalions of the regime, the State Peace Development Council (SPDC) and three battalions of the Democratic Buddhist Karen Army (DKBA) have been shelling and attacking villages close to the Thai border. This has caused almost 4,000 villagers from 20 villages, mostly women and children, to flee to Thailand.

Among the Karen refugees, over 800 are children under thirteen years old, including over twenty breastfeeding babies. There are also 20 pregnant women. The KWO is deeply concerned for the health and welfare of these vulnerable populations, particularly during the onset of the rainy season.“People have fled with frighten and exhaustion said KWO spokesperson Blooming Night Zan. “I saw one mother struggling to care for her two-day-old baby. It made me so sad and angry with the SPDC and DKBA for carrying out these attacks.

”Time and again our people have been forcibly uprooted by such attacks of the military regime. This cycle of displacement and suffering must be brought to an end.

We therefore urgently appeal to foreign governments to use all means, including UN Security Council intervention, to pressure the SPDC to immediately stop this current offensive, withdraw all SPDC and DKBA troops from rural Karen areas, and impose a nationwide ceasefire. A tripartite dialogue process between the regime, the National League for Democracy and ethnic representatives, must be initiated to bring peace and democratic reform to Burma.

We also appeal to the Thai government to continue to provide protection to refugees fleeing from Burma and allow them entry into refugee camps.

KWO is a community-based organization of Karen women working in development and relief in the refugee camps on the Thai border and with IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) inside Burma. KWO aims to empower Karen women in all spheres of life, including education and general living standards, and to develop women's knowledge, and skills in politics and leadership.

Message from Nant Zoya Phan

Zoya Phan: My People Still on the Run in Eastern Burma
14 June 2009
Zoya Phan

The U.S Government and United Nations have remained silent about a new military offensive in Karen State, Burma, which has forced around 6,000 people to flee their homes.At the beginning of June the Burmese army and its allies, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) began a new attack in Karen State, Burma. Attacks on my people are nothing new, and sadly, neither is the silence from the UN.

For sixty years the Karen have been under attack by the central government. These attacks escalated when an even more brutal dictatorship took power in September 1988, following a pro-democracy uprising in which thousands were killed when troops opened fire. In the past 15 years more than 3,300 villages in Eastern Burma have been destroyed. Half a million are internally displaced, and almost 150,000 live in refugee camps on the Thailand Burma border. Tens of thousands of people have been used as slave labor by the Burmese army, many used as human minesweepers, forced to walk in front of army columns as they keep no record of where they lay mines. Rape is used as a weapon of war by the regime; women taken as slaves can expect to be raped by soldiers every night, even girls as young as five. Extortion, torture, mutilations- -the list of abuses goes on and on.

"Tens of thousands of people have been used as slave labor by the Burmese army, many used as human minesweepers, forced to walk in front of army columns as they keep no record of where they lay mines."

The dictatorship tries to justify its action by saying it is a counter-insurgency operation, and that the Karen are fighting for an independent state, and want to break up Burma. It simply isn't true. Karen people want a Federal Burma, we stopped campaigning for our own state as long ago as 1976. In a grand offensive in 2006, the Burmese army added days to their journey by avoiding bases of the Karen National Liberation Army on their way to attack defenseless villages. The United Nations has confirmed this, accusing the generals of breaching the Geneva Conventions.

Now thousands more of my people are fleeing for their lives. I know the fear, and the sadness of leaving everything you know behind, carrying just a few possessions, and not knowing if you will ever go home again. I went through the same thing when I was 14 and the Burmese Army attacked my village.

The fact that 14 years later the same thing is still going on, and nothing is being done to stop it, fills me with anger and despair.

Last week, the European Union broke the years of silence and called for an end to the attacks in Eastern Burma. I suppose half the battle is trying to get people to take notice of what is going on, but the lack of concrete action, and silence from the rest of the world, is still frustrating.

The time for a global arms embargo against Burma is long overdue. There should also be a UN commission of inquiry into the crimes against humanity being committed in Eastern Burma. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon must also demand an immediate ceasefire when he visits Burma in July.

When I arrived in Thailand as a refugee I thought the international community would come to our aid and stop the attacks on our people. I was wrong. I know the new refugees in Thailand will be thinking the same thing. I hope that this time, they won't be wrong.

---
Zoya Phan is international co-ordinator at Burma Campaign UK. Her autobiography Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West, has been published in the UK and Canada. It will be published in April as 'Undaunted' in the USA .

http://www.guernica mag.com/blog/ 1077/zoya_ phan_my_people_ still_on_ t/

Karen Communities Worldwide Statement.

Karen Communities Worldwide Statement on SPDC and DKBA Joint Military Operation in Karen State.

Emergency Release 001/09
June 12th, 2009

At the beginning of June the Burmese Army and DKBA began a new military offensive in Karen State, Burma. The Burmese Army offers the DKBA lucrative border trade deals to carry out attacks on its behalf before the 2010 general election. Since this new military operation, Burma Army and DKBA troops committed series of human rights violations. Innocent civilians were taken from their homes and forced to carry weapons and army equipment for Burmese Army and DKBA and have not been given food, clothing or shelter at night.

According to the last updated news, approximately six thousands Karen villagers in the operation areas were forced to flee. Those who crossed the border into Thailand have been facing shortage of food, medical aid, shelter, and many villagers, especially children and the elderly have become ill. Some mortars and rocket-propelled grenades fired by the Burmese Army have landed in Thai soil. This poses an immediate threat to Thai civilians who live along the border area and is another reason why for international concern and intervention.

More than a million Karen people have been forced from their homes and became displaced after decades of attacks targeting innocent civilians as the part of SPDC’s ethnic cleansing campaign. The SPDC is deliberately targeting civilians, which is a war crime, or crime against humanity. Spreading hot bed of killer diseases to neighboring countries became serious issues in the region. Now and again, a new wave of Karen refugees, mostly women and children have to leave their home by forced in this current crisis.

Burma is not a simple internal problem anymore, but become a threat to international peace and security, and became a major problem for neighboring countries. We, the Karen communities who have been forced to flee all across the world result of the military attacks against our villages and homes call on the international community to take serious action to end the crime against humanity being perpetrated by the SPDC regime.

Therefore, we the Karen communities worldwide call for the following demands:

• The United Nations Security Council to pass a binding resolution calling for animmediate end to military attacks, and imposing a global arms embargo against the SPDC, the Burmese regime.

• The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights on Burma to visit the areas where attacks and human rights abuses are taking place and speak to the local Karen civilians in order to get the truth and first hand report about what is happening in Burma currently rather than just go to meet Burmese authorities.

• Burmese authorities to stop all military offensive and start meaningful national reconciliation plan, and let the United Nations Security Council get involved in solving all political, human rights and economic problems peacefully and permanently.

• Burmese and Thai authorities to let the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and NGOs to deliver emergency relief in the area of conflict zone without any restrictions to save the lives of Karen displaced people who were caught in between.

Media Contact Persons
1. Zoya Phan +44 207 324 4712 (UK)
2. Saw Steven Dun +206 295 8553 (USA)
3. Mahn Kyaw Shwe +;1 519 434 0139 (CANADA)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Introducing Phan Foundation

A Karen friend from UK visited Philadelphia area during the weekend of June 13th, 14th.

Bwa Bwa Phan, co-founder of Phan Foundation and elder daughter of the late General Secretary of the Karen National Union Padoh Mahn Sha, visited Philadelphia area during the weekend of June 13th 14th to introduce the Phan Foundation to the Karens in the US.

Phan Foundation was founded in the United Kingdom on 14th February 2008 by the four surviving children of Padoh Mahn Sha soon after his assassination carried out by agents of the brutal SPDC regime. Bwa Bwa met with some members of the Karen Communities from Philadelphia, Trenton, Lansdale, and Allentown in the area and explained about the inception of Phan Foundation and its aims and objectives. Phan Foundation is solely humanitarian aimed for the Karens regardless of religion and country of residence. The four main objectives of the Foundation are;

1. To alleviate poverty
2. To provide education
3. To promote human rights
4. To protect Karen culture.

Just within one year of it’s founding, the Foundation has presented $2000 dollars as the “2008 Padoh Mahn Sha Young Leader Award”, first of it’s kind, to Naw Paw K’Bla Htoo, a young community worker in Kler Lwee Htu (Nyaung Lay Bin) District in the Karen State. Naw Paw K’Bla Htoo was chosen because of her strong and longstanding commitment in her selflessness community work, her outstanding leadership and dedication in fighting poverty, promoting education, promoting development, and preserving Karen culture.

At present Phan Foundation is supporting IDP (Internally Displaced People) students from Mutraw District (Karen State) and expects to support many more with donations from well-wishers and friends.

To learn more about Phan Foundation or to make donations visit http://www.phanfoundation.org/

Donations by checks payable to Phan Foundation can be sent to:

Phan Foundation
28 Charles Square
London, N1 6HT
United Kingdom

Karen Atlas Media

June 15, 2009

Click the link below to view video postings on Karen Atlas Media.

www.youtube.com/karenatlasmedia