July 13, 2009

Media Release from the European Karen Network


Karen communities from four European countries including Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom have come together for the first time to form a new European Karen Network after a two-day conference held on 11th-12th July 2009 in Deje city, Sweden.

The European Karen Network aims to raise awareness about the situation in Karen State and Burma as a whole and pressure European governments to do more to bring about democratic transition in Burma.

The 4 key objectives are:

To act as a strong public voice on behalf of the Karen National Union, which is the true representative of the Karen people of Burma, and is a democratic Karen organisation committed to human rights and democracy in Burma; and to raise awareness about the suffering of the Karen people and the struggle for a federal Burma where all people live in peace, democracy and harmony.
To strengthen and improve coordination of Karen communities Europewide.
To seek stronger action on Burma from the international communities including European governments, the European Union, the United Nations Security Council, and other governments and international institutions.
To promote unity among Karen worldwide and foster contacts with all Karen people from Burma, including in Kawthoolei (Karen State), and other Karen people worldwide.
Various issues related to the Karen were discussed at the conference including the on-going military offensive in Karen State, refugees resettlement issues, human rights and humanitarian crisis in Eastern Burma, and the military regime’s planned 2010 election.

“The military offensive against our people needs urgent attention from international community. The attack should be halted immediately, and Burmese Army’s soldiers should withdraw from Karen State” said Nan Kyi Aye, committee member of the EKN.

In addition, Karen communities in Europe rejected the planned 2010 elections aside from not being free and fair, the elections bring in a new constitution that has no guarantees of human rights, or protection of Burma’s many cultures We call on the European to redouble its efforts to pressure the military regime to enter into tri-partite dialogue with the National League for Democracy and genuine ethnic groups.

We call on the European Union to build a worldwide consensus for a global arms embargo on Burma. European governments must also build support for the United Nations establishing a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity being committed by the Burmese Army against the Karen and other ethnic minorities in Eastern Burma.

We urge the European Union to impose targeted economic sanctions including insurance companies, financial transactions, banking and investment. We also urge the European Union to add the individuals who work with the military regime in committing crimes against civilians to the EU visa ban list.

We call on the European governments to provide cross-border humanitarian aid to internally displaced people who can be reached only through the border because of the restrictions of aid delivery by the Burmese regime.

For more information please contact Zoya Phan on +44 207 324 4710


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