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84,000 Karen Civilians Call on Ban Ki-moon to Help Stop Attacks in Burma

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Around 84,000 ethnic Karen civilians have signed a petition calling on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take action to immediately stop the Burmese dictatorship attacking civilians and committing gross human rights abuses against them.

The petition was organised by the Karen National Union (KNU), the largest political organisation representing the Karen people in Burma, at the request of Karen civilians in cooperation with local community leaders and supported by Karen communities and organisations around the world.

Signatories of the petition are aged from 16 to 103 years, who have been affected by Burmese Army’s attacks. These civilians have been subjected to abuses including forced labour, looting, extortion, destruction of homes, villages, crops and fields, forced relocation, extrajudicial killing including women and children, beating, torture and the systematic rape of women and children by the Burmese Army for decades. More than 3,600 villages have been destroyed in Eastern Burma in the past 15 years, an average of four every week.

In 2010 before the Burma’s election in November, in parts of Karen State where the KNU was able to document abuses, there have been cases of 18 civilians killed, 38 civilians tortured and beaten, 52 civilians arrested without reason, 2,336 civilians used as slave labour, 198 homes, schools and churches destroyed, 146 fields and orchards destroyed and more than 3,000 civilians forced to flee and hide in the jungle.

The elections held on 7th November 2010 did not represent any kind of progress towards democratization, national reconciliation or peace and stability in Burma and will not solve the fundamental problems, which are the lack of ethnic equality and human rights. The Constitution that the elections brought in was designed to enshrine military rule without granting any ethnic rights or protection. It is a serious threat to ethnic minorities in Burma.

To help solve Burma’s problem the KNU have repeatedly called on the Burmese regime to respond to calls by the United Nations General Assembly, United Nations Security Council, European Union, United States of America and others, and engage in genuine tripartite dialogue for positive change. However, the regime refuses and instead continues to target our civilians for attack.

“This is an unprecedented appeal to the United Nations from ordinary villagers in Burma who are facing appalling human rights abuses. The Burmese Army has been committing war crimes and crimes against humanity for so long. We call on the UN Secretary-General to use his power to stop pressure the Burmese regime to stop their military operations and human rights violations in Karen State and other Karen areas,” said Naw Zipporah Sein, General Secretary of the Karen National Union. “We urge you to work with concerned governments around the world to secure a nationwide ceasefire, leading to meaningful and inclusive dialogue to achieve national reconciliation and a return to democracy in our country Burma. We are working for a peaceful, stable, democratic and federal Burma”.