Wed 31 May 2006
Filed under: News,Press Release
May 29, Over 23 killed and 14,000 Karen civilians displaced in Toungoo and Nyaung Lay Bin Districts by recent SPDC Military Offensives
ï‚§Â Â Â Since the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) moved its capital to Pyimana in the early 2006, the SPDC has been increasing its military operations against the entire region of Pegu division as well as Northern Karen area such as Toungoo and Nyaung Lay Bin districts in order to gain security of the Capital.
ï‚§Â Â Â The SPDC has deployed units under Light-Infantry Division (LID) 66, Local Military Operation Command (LMOC) 16, LMOC 21, LMOC 10 and LID 101 to conduct military offensives. There are a total of 60 battalions including battalions under the Southern Command.
ï‚§Â Â Â Currently, the SPDC troops have been committing various forms of human rights violations on the Karen people such as forced relocation of the villagers, forced labor on road construction, army camps, setting fires on the villages, farms huts and rice barns. The troops have also repeatedly looted properties of the villagers including a number of highly valued Karen ancient bronze drums (known as Pah-Hsi) and domestic animals. They have arbitrarily tortured and killed any person suspicious of associating with Karen National Union (KNU).Â During the month of March to May of this year, 23 villagers have been confirmed shot to death by the SPDC soldiers, 151 houses and 107 farm huts have been burned down, and 24 rice barns have been destroyed.Â Within the last four months, approximately 14,000 Karen civilians have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as they have had to abandon their villages, and hide in the jungle for survival. More than a thousand IDPs have reached the border area to seek refuge in Thailand. Since it is a rainy season, there is an urgent need to provide them shelter and food.Â The rest of the IDPs are facing severe shortages of food, medicines and shelters in the jungle.
ï‚§Â Â Â In the SPDC military operation areas of Toungoo and Nyaung Lay Bin districts, those who have been displaced include FTUK members working in the community as members of Education Workers Union (356 members), Health Workers Union (150 members) and Agricultural Workers Union (1431 members). It is highly likely that all the 126 schools, mostly primary schools, in the two districts will have to be shut down, 271 teachers will become jobless and 3,659 students will lose their rights for education.
ï‚§Â Â Â We, the FTUK, strongly condemn the SPDC’s intensified military offensives against the Karen people and the continued use of forced labor. Thus, we, the FTUK, call upon and urge the international communities, including Human Rights Watch, the International Labor Organizations (ILO), the United States, EU, to pressure the SPDC to immediately stop its current military operations and withdraw its troops deployed in the civilian areas.
FTUK was founded on October 7, 1998 during the Karen Labor Conference held in liberated area of Kawthoolei (Karen Land) in Burma.Â Maintaining close relationships with Federation of Trade Union of Burma (FTUB), AFL-CIO, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), FTUK has been advocating workers rights, promoting vocational knowledge and assisting the Karen people’s struggle for democracy, human rights and ethnic rights.