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New Photos: Thousands of Civilians Fleeing Burmese Army Attacks (click to view PDF)

Groups Press for Global Weapons Ban, Action on Crimes Against Humanity

June 5th, 2009
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum (202) 246-7924

(Washington, DC) The U.S. Campaign for Burma today released newly obtained photos (see bottom of this page) of refugees fleeing across the border from Burma into Thailand as the Burmese military regime increases attacks on the country’s ethnic minorities in eastern Burma.

The attacks, and photos, come just days after a former United Nations expert on Burma, in the New York Times, called for a UN Security Council investigation into crimes against humanity committed under Burma’s military regime — crimes largely targeted at the country’s ethnic peoples. The attacks also follow the release of a major new report and article in the Washington Post on Burma, commissioned by the world’s leading judges and jurists and written by the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic, which calls on the UN Security Council to take immediate action. The judges and jurists, from the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, included those who served at the International Criminal Tribunals on Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

“The United States needs to take action, now, at the UN Security Council,” said Aung Din, cofounder of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. “Already, at least 1.5 million people have fled attacks like these, and now we see it happening yet again. It is the job of the UN Security Council to address issues like this, and it is time the U.S. lead the way in seeking a ban on weapons sales to the Burmese regime.”

Since 1996, Burma’s regime has destroyed over 3,300 villages in eastern Burma and forced 1.5million 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.

“Besides banning arms sales, we urge the UN Security Council to immediately launch an investigation into crimes committed by the Burmese regime — including those that are happening right now,” added Aung Din.

At present, leading members of the U.S. Congress, Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Donald Manzullo (RIL) are organizing a letter to President Obama asking him to lead the push to establish a UN Security Council investigation into crimes committed by Burma’s military regime.

Since 1996, Burma’s military regime has carried out a massive, scorched-earth campaign against ethnic minority civilians in eastern Burma in an attempt to subjugate the area under 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. 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 tens of thousands of child soldiers into its military apparatus, possibly more than any other country in the world.