The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma has expressed its concern over the latest round of attacks initiated by the junta against the Karen National Union at the Burma-Thai border which has forced thousands of innocent Karen villagers to flee into Thailand. The following is a report released by the NCGUB on 26 June 2009:
Karen Crisis A Sign Of Things To Come
Mae Sot — Burma’s exiled democracy movement has expressed grave concerns over the recent military assaults on the Karen people in the Thai-Burma border regions, and has urged the international community and regional governments in particular to see the wider implications of the regime’s latest action.
“This year alone the issue of people from Burma fleeing into other countries has caused serious ramifications for regional governments. Yet, these crises are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr Thaung Htun, UN office representative for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.
For years now Burma has been experiencing a mass exodus from the country, with many Burmese becoming refugees or illegal immigrants in neighboring countries.
Democracy groups say many more Burmese will be forced to flee Burma in the coming months.
Burma has the third highest number of refugees of any country worldwide. According to the Washington DC-based Refugees International, around 7% of Burma’s entire population, or 3.5 million Burmese, are in other countries, many as refugees.
“Burma’s neighbours must wake up to the fact that there is a humanitarian crisis on their doorstep. They must also admit that this is the shape of things to come if the military regime is allowed to pursue its agenda of actively “cleansing” all remaining vestiges of democracy in Burma in the lead-up to the 2010 elections,” said Dr Thaung Htun, who is currently visiting the camps on the Thai-Burma border. Reports suggest over 4,000 Karen civilians have been forced to flee to refugee camps in Thailand since the military launched its military offensive in the region. Villagers have been used as human mine-sweepers and as human shields in the armed struggle between the military junta and the Karen forces.
“We must offer our thanks to Thailand in particular for offering a safe haven to the Karen refugees,” said Dr Thaung Htun, “but they, and others, must understand that there will be more of this to come as this sham election campaign gathers momentum.”
The Karen situation presents a two-tier crisis, adds Dr Thaung Htun. In the short term, there is the immediate humanitarian crisis as the military’s attacks on defenseless villages continue, and people are forced to run for their lives.
They need immediate aid and relief from the international community, he says.
The second tier is a crisis in the medium-term, as Burma’s hardline generals seek to push those who dispute the regime’s dictatorial rule out of the country, making them the region’s problem.
“The medium-term solution is to find ways to support the movement of democracy and rights of ethnic nationalities and to back its national Reconciliation Proposal Toward Democracy Development in Burma that the movement of democracy and rights of ethnic nationalities are putting forward in the near future, which will provide a transition arrangement for Burma to return sustainability to democracy.”