by Irrawaddy.news They are constantly running and hiding from the Burmese army. One 62-year-old Karen man said he believed he had fled in fear more than 100 times in his life. They build makeshift shelters in the jungle wherever they can and plant fields that might never see a harvest. With only the clothes on their backs and a few tools in their hands, they build schoolhouses from bamboo and try to give their children an education. More than anything, the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of Eastern Burma try desperately to keep a candle of hope burning in their hearts.The IDPs of Eastern Burma rely on cross-border aid and intrepid groups such as the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) and the Back Pack Health Worker Teams to deliver it. The logistics are very difficult and the conditions are hazardous. With the dreaded Burmese army, or tatmadaw, controlling checkpoints on all roads, FBR teams must stick to jungle trails and use mules and porters for transportation.
Donations can give to http://www.freeburmarangers.org/
read also RIGHTS-BURMA: Military Accused of Crimes Against Humanity
BANGKOK, Nov 9 (IPS) – An onslaught by Burmese troops in the eastern part of the military-ruled country, running for three years now, is laying the junta open to charge of ‘crimes against humanity’.
This new charge adds to a growing list of human rights violations that the South-east Asian nation’s ruling military regime is being slammed for, including the use of rape as a weapon of war in military campaigns in areas that are home to the country’s ethnic minorities. The country has been under the grip of successive juntas since a 1962 military coup.
Eyewitness accounts from civilians fleeing the territory under attack reveal a grim picture of the ‘tatmadaw’, as the Burmese military is called, targeting unarmed men, women and children in a ‘’widespread and systematic way,’’ say human rights and humanitarian groups.
An increasing number of refugees have been crossing over to northern Thailand from among the Karen ethnic community, the second largest ethnic group in Burma, or Myanmar. Many of them live in the mountainous Karen State, the territory where South-east Asia’s longest –and largely ignored — separatist conflict is being waged between Burmese troops and the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU).
‘’Myanmar’s troops are overtly targeting civilians; they are actively avoiding KNU military installations. That is why we are describing the attacks as ‘crimes against humanity’,’’ says Benjamin Zawacki, South-east Asia researcher for Amnesty International (AI), the global rights lobby. ‘’The violations are widespread and systematic.’’
‘’This campaign started in November 2005 and has escalated. They did not even stop during the annual monsoon period (from May to October), which was not the case before,’’ he explained during an IPS interview. ‘’There has been a shift in strategy and intensity. It is no more a dry season offensive.’’
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