October 31, 2008

The last Karen National Union (KNU) forces withdrew from Kler Law Seh in Doo Pla Ya District, Karen State today, as combined forces of the Burmese Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), completed its takeover of the area. The attacks have driven the populations of at least seven villages from their homes in recent weeks, adding to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the Burmese regime’s attacks on ethnic Karen civilians.

At 3am on October 30th Burmese army and DKBA soldiers attacked the 50 strong Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) base at Kler Law Seh. The KNLA is the armed wing of the KNU. Approximately 150 DKBA soldiers and a similar number of Burmese Army soldiers were engaged in the attack. The DKBA sustained casualties and a Burmese Army commander was injured by a landmine. Burma Campaign UK sources have been told there were no KNLA casualties. Fighting continued until noon local time today, when the KNLA soldiers withdrew.

It is not known what has happened to all the villagers who have been forced to flee their homes. Some are believed to have been heading for Noh Poe and Umpium refugee camps in Thailand, but the Thai government has been refusing to allow refugees into the country, and even deporting some from the country.

Villagers were forced to leave most of their possessions behind as they fled. The attacks have taken place just before harvest time. The DKBA is believed to have been keen to control the area for financial and well as political reasons, to tax cross-border trade into neighbouring Thailand.

“It is a disgrace that the United Nations and European Union have stayed silent as hundreds more civilians have been driven from their homes by the military regime,” said Nant Bwa Bwa Phan, Campaigner at Burma Campaign UK. “They should be demanding that the regime cease these attacks, which their own special rapportuer has described as breaking the Geneva Convention. The international community cannot continue to ignore what is going on in Eastern Burma.”

For more information contact Nant Bwa Bwa Phan on 020 7324 4710


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