February 24, 2010

One schoolboy has been killed and two more injured when the Burmese Army fired a mortar bomb at a school in Northern Karen State.  The attack took place at 9am on Friday 19th February, in Mutraw (Papun) district in Northern Karen State.

Burma Campaign UK sources say the school was in a temporary village for internally displaced people, and that the attack happened without warning. The Karen Human Rights Group and Free Burma Rangers have also confirmed details of the attack.

Saw Raw Bee Moo was just 15 years old. He was taken to three different villages in a desperate attempt to get medical assistance and equipment to save his life, but died at 3am on 21st February. The Burmese regime blocks aid into many areas of Karen State, and the only way to get medical assistance to this area is cross-border from Thailand, but the British Department for International Development still fails to fund such aid, despite this being a key recommendation of a report in 2007 by the House of Commons International Development Committee.

The other two injured children, who are around 8-10 years old, were successfully treated. Approximately 350 villagers are hiding in the area after the attack. They had already been forced to flee their original villages because of attacks by the Burmese Army. In the past 15 years more than 3,500 villages have been destroyed as the dictatorship continues its military offensive against ethnic civilians.

In 2006 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma accused the dictatorship in Burma of breaking the Geneva Conventions by deliberately targeting civilians in Karen State. Despite this no action has been taken and, knowing they can act with impunity, the attacks by the Burmese Army continue.

“This child died because the international community was not prepared to fulfil their obligations,” said Zoya Phan, International Coordinator at Burma Campaign UK. “No action has been taken to try to stop these attacks, and funding for aid that might have saved his life was not given. For more than four years Burma Campaign UK has been calling on the British government and European Union to fund cross-border medical aid, but still they delay, and the price of that delay is the lives of children. As long as the regime knows it can get away with these attacks, they will continue. The British government must support the establishment of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.”

For more information contact Zoya Phan on 020 7324 4710


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