Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Human Rights Council Burma Debate - Must Approve Commission of Inquiry - European Karen Network

Media Release from European Karen Network

European Karen Network (EKN) calls on members of the Human Rights Council to support a recommendation by Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, that the UN consider setting up an inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the Burmese dictatorship.

On Monday the Human Rights Council will meet to discuss the findings and recommendations of Mr Quinatana’s report.

“For six decades Karen people have been one of the ethnic groups who have been directly targeted by the Burmese Army, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against us,” said Nant Bwa Bwa Phan, board member of European Karen Network. “The Human Rights Council must now follow the recommendations of their own Special Rapporteur and establish a Commission of Inquiry.”

On 9th March Karen communities in ten countries worldwide held a day of action calling on governments to establish a Commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the dictatorship.

The regime has recently stepped up attacks against Karen civilians. They are trying to crush all opposition to their rule ahead of fake elections later this year. Villagers have been shot on site, more than 80 homes burned down, and a child killed when the Burmese Army fired a mortar bomb at a school.

“For many years Burma’s generals have broken international law, and been allowed to get away with it without the UN even properly investigating what is going on” said Nant Bwa Bwa Phan. “On Monday members of the Human Rights Council have a responsibility to act, and finally set up a commission of inquiry.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

KNU Press Release on Recommendation of UN Rapporteur

KNU Press Release on Recommendation of UN Special Rapporteur
14 Mar 2010

The Karen National Union (KNU) warmly welcomes and earnestly supports the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana’s recommendation to the UN for establishing a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Burmese SPDC military government.

We the KNU are fully in agreement with his recommendation, which is firmly based on his findings and the findings of his predecessors. It states the gross and systematic nature of human rights violations and the lack of taking action against the perpetrators, indicating that it is a state policy that involves authorities at all levels, in the executive, military and judiciary.

The KNU and ethnic political organizations including many democratic forces have ong called for such a UN commission, in order to deter the SPDC military government from committing war crimes and crimes against humanity which are unacceptable in the civilized world.

We, the KNU urge the UN member countries, which have been reluctant to support such a recommendation, in consideration of their economic and corporate interest in Burma and in line with their development ideology, to desist from their stand, immoral in the case of Burma, and support Tomás Ojea Quintana’s move.

It is now clearer than ever that the SPDC military regime is forging ahead to perpetuate the rule of military dictatorship through a sham constitution and election to gain a semblance of legitimacy and commit more war crimes and crimes against humanity, contrary to urgings by the international community.

The KNU is a democratic organization committed to human rights and democracy in Burma. We are working towards a Federal Burma where all people live in peace and harmony, under a democratic system of government.

Supreme Headquarters
Karen National Union

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Karen Communities Worldwide Call for Action to Stop Attacks on Civilians

Statement from Karen Communities Worldwide

For Immediate Release March 9th 2010

Karen Communities Worldwide Call for Action to Stop Attacks on Civilians

Karen communities in 10 countries are joining forces for a global day of action on Tuesday 9th March, calling on the international community to take action to stop new attacks by the Burmese Army against Karen civilians. Since mid January more than 2,000 civilians have been forced to flee new attacks.

• Villagers have been shot on sight
• A school has been mortar bombed
• One villager has been beheaded
• More than 80 homes have been destroyed
• Schools and health clinics have been burned down
• Food stocks being stolen and destroyed
• The regime is stopping aid reaching people who are hiding in the jungle

Karen communities call for immediate practical action to stop the attacks.

• The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must demand an immediate end to the attacks, which break international law
• Governments, including the European Commission, must provide funding for cross-border aid, which is the only way to get food, medicine and shelter to those on the run from the new attacks
• The United Nations (UN) should set up a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the dictatorship.

Karen people have been under attack for more than 60 years. The new wave of attacks is linked to the Burmese dictatorship’ s fake elections due later this year. The dictatorship is trying to crush all resistance forces to their rule. They are following the doctrine of the Burmese Army: ‘One Blood, One Voice, One Command’. The new constitution drafted by the dictatorship guarantees no rights or protection to ethnic nationalities. In fact, it is a death sentence to ethnic diversity in Burma. The international community must stop ignoring what is happening to ethnic peoples in Burma.

We, the Karen Communities Worldwide, 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.

Karen Communities in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Korea are coordinating the day of action, which is supported by people from Burma and human rights groups.


UK – Pa Saw Htee – Karen Community Association +447828168180
Australia - Saw Lwin Oo, Australia Karen Organisation +61 4123 44009
Canada – Mahn Kyaw Shwe, Karen Canadian Community +;1519-434-0139
Germany – Mahn Aung Lwin, Karen National Community Germany +491752433418
Norway – Nan Kyi Aye, Karen community in Norway +4741847953
USA – Stephen Dun, Karen American Communities Foundation +12062958553
Korea – Saw Kenneth Moe, Karen Youth Organisation +821087147019

My Speech as KNU Representative in the UK on Global Day of Action in London - By Bwa Bwa Phan

March 9th 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and supporters, thank you for coming to today’s global day of action. We are not here to criticise the British Government, we are here to ask for their support to our cause. As you all know, Karen civilians are being attacked in eastern Burma by the Burmese Military Junta. This fact is well documented by independent human rights groups. The United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued an `expression of concern’ regarding the new attacks on the Karen people. The Karen National Union (KNU) does not believe that this alone is an adequate response.
We need the attacks to stop.

Over the years there have been many `expressions of concerns’ by the General Secretary and Presidential Security council statements. However, none of them have halted the attacks or persuaded the military Junta to enter into genuine dialogue, with the democratic forces in Burma. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma has described the attacks on ethnic peoples in eastern Burma as being a breach of the Geneva Convention, but still the attacks go on.

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) is the only protection Karen civilians have from the Junta’s attacks. Without the KNLA, no humanitarian aid would be able to reach Internally Displaced People, who are in hiding. Since the regime is blocking aid reaching people who are hiding in the jungle, cross-aid is the only way to provide food, medicine and shelter to those on the run from the new attacks. Unlike the dictatorship, the KNU agree to meet all requirements regarding aid delivery. The KNU would like to make it very clear to the world, we have repeatedly tried to enter into dialogue for a peaceful resolution of the problems in Burma and are ready for any future talks. But the Military Junta demands what amounts to a total and unconditional surrender.

Who will then protect the Karen civilians, the UN?

The UN Special Rapporteur often has to wait for weeks to get a visa just to enter Burma, at times they have not been allowed to talk to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or the 2100 political prisoners that are held unjustly and in appalling conditions. What hope is there of UN protection for vulnerable Karen civilians in the jungle. The reality is none.

If the attacks by the Junta are to stop we need real pressure by the UN. We need genuine dialogue with all stake holders, for national reconciliation and peace. We have made these facts plain in many letters to the UN and governments but they have gone unheard.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is why we are here today. If our letters go unheard, then our voices should not.

The attacks on Karen civilians in eastern Burma must stop.

Thank you