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Mizzima: Karen women’s group ‘shocked’ by UK help for Myanmar army

Karen women’s group ‘shocked’ by UK help for Myanmar army (click to view)

The Karen Women’s Organization has successfully completed a lobbying trip to the UK, during which they had the chance to state their dismay at British government training of the Myanmar army, according to a press release issued on March 11.

Naw Ta Mla Saw, joint secretary of the KWO, joined a delegation of refugees from Myanmar together withMs Sally Thompson, executive director of The Border Consortium and Mr Luiz Kaypoe, secretary of the Karenni Refugee Committee on a visit February 23-28.

Naw Ta Mla Saw became the first KWO member to meet with a British government minister in the UK, when the delegation met with Mr Desmond Swayne MP, from the Department for International Development, according to the press release.

She raised the need for the British government to continue humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced people along the border of Thailand and Myanmar. Additionally she made clear that refugees should only return to Myanmar when there is a guaranteed political settlement and peace in the country.

Naw Ta Mla Saw also spoke in the British Parliament at a meeting of the All -Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma.

“I thanked the British government for its support for Burma, especially in refugee camps and asked for continued assistance. I asked the British government to not just look at the situation in central Burma but also in ethnic areas and to support our human rights. I am also shocked that the British government is providing training to the Burmese Army, the same Army that attacks us and forced us to flee from our homes. I would like to see a stronger policy prioritizing human rights from the British government,” she said.

“As refugees, we have lost everything, been forced to flee our homes and to live in camps in difficult conditions for many years. There is still no political settlement and safety guarantee for us to return to Burma; however services in the camps are being cut, and rations reduced. We feel we are being forced by some donors to choose between being hungry in the camps or being forced to return and be abused in Burma. We desperately want a better choice,” said Naw Ta Mla Saw.

KWO is a community-based organisation with a membership of over 49,000, working to empower Karen women to develop their own communities in education, health and social welfare.