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Regime Attacks Ethnic Minority Villages While UN Envoy Enters Burma (click to view PDF)

For Immediate Release
March 8th, 2008
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum (202) 246-7924

(Washington, DC) The US Campaign for Burma condemned two attacks on ethnic nationality villages carried out by Burma’s military regime just two days before the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari entered the country. The attacks took place on March 4th, 2008 in the jungles of eastern Burma.

Since 1996, Burma’s regime has destroyed 3,200 villages in eastern Burma and forced 1.5 million civilians to flee their homes as internal and external refugees. For context purposes, the number of civilian villages destroyed in eastern Burma is nearly twice the number destroyed in Darfur, Sudan.

“It is awful that as the United Nations envoy to Burma prepared to enter Burma for talks about human rights and democracy the regime carried out attacks on civilians, but even more shameful that the UN has barely lifted a finger to stop the attacks in the first place,” said Aung Din, executive director of the US Campaign for Burma. “Because of China’s veto and the UN Secretariat’s silence, the UN Security Council has remained paralyzed and the UN makes the same mistakes the world made on Rwanda, yet again.”

“We urge the UN Security Council to immediately demand an end to attacks on civilians by Burma’s military regime, something it has never once done,” added Aung Din.

The most recent attacks took place in Northern Papun district in eastern Burma, in the general vicinity of Maw Pu. According to the Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian group that provides food and medicine for refugees, over 1,700 villagers fled after being fired upon by mortars launched by soldiers of the military regime. In a separate attack, 9 houses were burned while 85 people fled their homes. It is suspected that an additional 400 fled the area as well, who were already internal refugees hiding from the military regime. In total, it is estimated that over 2,200 people were forced to flee.

Since 1996, Burma’s military regime has carried out a massive, scorched-earth campaign against civilians in eastern Burma in an attempt to subjugate the area to regime control. The area had been controlled by ethnic nationalities attempting to hold onto their ancestral homelands, but slowly the regime is carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing and asserting control over the resource rich land. As in Darfur, the regime is targeting food supplies, rice fields, cooking utensils, medical facilities, and schools for attacks so that civilians either die or are forced to flee. The regime also uses rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minority women, and has recruited up to 70,000 child soldiers to carry out attacks, more than any other country in the world.

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