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?