Feb 4, 2010 (DVB)–An armed ethnic Karenni party has admitted to the recent bombing of two electricity towers in eastern Burma, but claimed that it did not intend to disrupt civilians.
The Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) said that the bombing of the towers in Karenni state’s Demoso township was aimed at “stopping projects that make profit for the [Burmese junta]”, according to KNPP Secretary 1, Khu Oo Reh.
Burmese state-run media had reported widescale electricity shortages following the attacks.
Khu Oo Reh said that despite there being a functioning hydroelectric plant in Karenni state, the people had been suffering from electricity shortages “for their whole life”.
“Our people who live under electricity towers do not even know what the use of electricity is like,” he said.
The Burmese government is regularly accused of channeling significant amounts of the country’s budget into energy projects, often built using forced labour. Much of the produce is then siphoned off to neighbouring countries, such as China and Thailand. “Our people are forced to labour to guard the electricity towers and to build fences around them,” said Khu Oo Reh.
“And they often die from stepping on landmines laid around the towers by the [Burmese] army, who then ask for compensation from their families for the mines lost.”
“So since we don’t have the privilege to use electricity, sometimes we blow up the towers, not aiming to terrorise but to stop the government’s work.”
The KNPP agreed to a ceasefire with the Burmese government in 1995 but attacks by Burmese troops on the group ended the truce.
Reporting by Maung Too