June 8, 2009

The British government and United Nations have remained silent about a new military offensive in Karen State, Burma, which has forced around 4,000 people to flee their homes.

There are now almost 1,500 soldiers from the Burmese Army and its allies, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), involved in the new offensive in the Pa’an district of Karen State, on the Thailand Burma border. The Burma Campaign UK has visited the camp twice this year, hearing first hand testimony of abuses committed by the regime.

According to Burma Campaign UK sources, three mortar bombs have hit the Ler Per Her camp for Internally Displaced People. The camp was evacuated on Friday. The camp is two miles from the nearest Karen National Liberation Army base.

The Burmese Army are firing up to fifty 81mm mortar bombs a day into territory controlled by the Karen National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Karen National Union, a pro-democracy organisation resisting the rule of the dictatorship. Some mortar bombs have also landed across the border in Thailand.

Eye witnesses who have escaped from territory taken over by the Burmese Army and DKBA reported that between 150 and 200 villagers have been taken as slave labour by the DKBA. They are being forced to carry military equipment, including into areas where the attacks are taking place. Some have not been given food for five days and are forced to sleep in the open in the rain.

“Once again the international community is looking the other way while my people are attacked and forced to run for their lives,” said Zoya Phan, International Co-ordinator at Burma Campaign UK. Zoya Phan has twice been forced to flee her village after it was attacked by Burmese Army troops. “Why hasn’t a single government called for an end to these attacks? Why isn’t there any effort to secure a global arms embargo? The British government must push for a UN Commission of Inquiry into these crimes against humanity being committed by the dictatorship.”

For more information contact Zoya Phan on 020 7324 4710

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