Karen Villagers Forced to Hide in Jungle
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Karen Villagers Forced to Hide in Jungle

By SAW YAN NAING Saturday, January 23, 2010


MAE SARIANG — More than 1,000 Karen villagers from ten villages in Nyaunlebin District in Pegu Division fled their homes on Jan. 17 and are still hiding in the jungle due to Burmese government army attacks, according to a Karen relief group.

The villagers, including women and children, lack sufficient food, medical care and other basic necessities, according to the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP), a Thailand-based nongovernmental organization.

“It is very cold in the jungle right now, and they don’t have enough blankets,” said Saw Steve, a CIDKP team leader. “To make matters worse, they are afraid to light fires at night because they don't want to be seen by the Burmese army.

“If they are forced to stay in the jungle much longer, they will also run out of food,” he added.

The Burmese troops active in the area are from Light Infantry Battalion 367 under Military Operation Command 10. On Jan. 17, government troops gunned down a villager, Saw Mya Kaw Htoo, 47, in the village of Keh Der and burnt down 11 houses, including one school hostel in the same village.

Some troops belonging to the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a Karen breakaway group, are also active in the area, operating gold mines in in Shwegyi and Kyaukgyi Townships in Nyaunlebin District, according to a source close to the DKBA in Mae Sot, on the Thai-Burmese border.

Some villagers also lost their land due to gold mining operations run by DKBA troops, said Karen sources. 

After DKBA and Burmese troops overran the headquarters of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7 in June 2009, the joint force unsuccessfully attempted to take over areas controlled by KNLA Brigade 5 in Papun District in northern Karen State by September 2009.

About 4,000 Karen villagers fled to Thailand due to the attacks launched by the joint force last year.

Some of the villagers are now being pressured by Thai authorities to return to Karen State, where they face forced labor and forcible recruitment into the DKBA. There is also a risk posed by landmines planted in and around their villages during the fighting between the KNLA and the joint force of Burmese and DKBA troops.

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Garrett Wrote:
This story shows what the successive military regimes have done in the ethnic homelands of Burma for decades and it represents only a fraction of the attacks on innocent ethnic minority Burmese citizens by SPDC forces in the current offensive.
This story also represents only a fraction of the IDP's currently hiding from SPDC shock troops in the ethnic homelands of Burma.
While the predominantly Buddhist urban dwellers complain about their poverty and their lack of political freedom, the regime sends their fathers, sons and brothers of the poorly paid and predominantly Buddhist Tatmadaw to attack, rape, plunder and persecute innocent ethnic minority Burmese citizens.
The army either chases them into the jungle, subjecting them to starvation and disease, or herds them into relocation camps to become forced labourers and victims of endless extortion while the SPDC exploits their natural resources to buy more weapons for ethnic oppression.
Since when does Buddhism condone human sacrifice?

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