Myanmar’s ethnic groups demand UN probe into Karen exodus

June 10th, 2009 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, June 10 (DPA) A coalition of Myanmar’s ethnic groups Wednesday called on the United Nations Security Council to investigate attacks on ethnic Karen villages in eastern Myanmar that have forced more than 3,000 refugees into Thailand.
Since June 6, some 3,295 Karen refugees have fled from Ler Per Her camp in eastern Myanmar to Thailand, escaping attacks on the camp by the Myanmar military and their allies the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), according to border sources.

“The Security Council must urgently establish a commission of inquiry to investigate and report on crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma in addition to imposing a global arms embargo against Burma’s [Myanmar's] violent military regime,” said Naing Aung, secretary-general of the Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB).

The forum, based on the Thai-Myanmar border, comprises representatives from six ethnic minority groups, including the Karen, whose traditional homeland was the Karen State, who are opposed to Myanmar’s military regime.

“We demand that these barbaric actions stop immediately,” Naing Aung said.

The are currently about 150,000 refugees from Myanmar living in various camps in Thailand. There are another half a million “internally displaced people” in camps in eastern Myanmar.

Over the past 15 years Myanmar’s junta has destroyed more than 3,300 villages in eastern Myanmar, most of which were under the control of the Karen National Union (KNU), an insurgency that has been fighting for the autonomy of the Karen State for six decades.

Myanmar’s army has been trying to defeat the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) since 1949, making it one of the world’s longest lasting insurgencies.

Fighting in the Per Her area started June 2 and intensified Friday when some 900 Myanmar and DKBA troops launched multiple mortar attacks on the camp near the Thai-Myanmar border, Karen sources said.

“Since 1992, the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council have passed over 35 resolutions on Myanmar but the Security Council has remained disturbingly immobile on the situation,” Naing Aung said.

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