Increase in attacks in Karen State
Despite the increase in attacks in Karen State, Burma’s regime once again received welcomes from Burma’s pro-democracy movement and the international community for releasing 9002 prisoners in September, when in fact only seven of them were political prisoners. Many analysts and opposition groups say that the regime has done this to ease the pressure on them for meaningful political reform.
The regime aims to be seen to be doing good on political reform in Rangoon, but on the other hand they increase their joint operations and attacks on ethnic control areas with its proxy Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a splinter group from the Karen National Union (KNU). Many critics say that it is a tactic by the regime to pull focus on to Rangoon, while increasing their offensive in ethnic areas.
Since early mid 2008, SPDC and DKBA troop operations have been increasing in eastern central Karen State where several villages have been burned down and hundreds of villagers have fled their home because of the fighting, or in order to avoid human rights abuses committed by the DKBA and SPDC troops.
Saw Yan Shin, a CIDKP Dooplaya district field staff member told Inside News that the DKBA burnt down 15 houses in Noh Pway Baw Hta village, Kawkriek Township in Karen State. “On 3rd of June, DKBA troops from Battalion #999 and #907, under Commanders Maung Chit Thoo and Na Kaung Mway, burnt down 15 houses in Noh Pway Baw Hta village a few days after the occurrence of skirmishes with the KNLA [Karen National Liberation Army].”
Saw Yan Shin also added that there are more cases of arbitrary arrest and torture by DKBA troops. “Whenever the fighting occurs during their operations, they arrest villagers from nearby villages or arrest the village chiefs and torture them. Saw Abaw 35, a village chief in K’ Law Gaw village, was beaten until he was bleeding inside and losing blood.”
Furthermore, the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) report on August 29, reported that DKBA troops burnt down houses in Ler Bpoo village, T’ Nay Hsah township, in Pa-an District which has 50 households, forcing villagers to evacuate to make way for their planned new military camp. “On Tuesday, August 26th, 2008, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, DKBA soldiers from Special Battalion #999 based at the town of Shwe Gko Gkoh in eastern Pa’an District (along Moei River) marched down directly to Ler Bpoo village and, upon arrival, burnt the village to the ground.”
It is alleged that the regime has signed an agreement with the DKBA to clear the KNLA control areas in eastern central Karen State. As the military government is going to hold a general election in 2010, they are trying to eliminate all armed opposition groups prior to this, in order to be seen as ready and moving forward with meaningful political reform.
Meanwhile, villagers in Karen State are being forced out of their home and their belongings are destroyed. They have to flee to the jungle or to the border to avoid the attacks and other human right abuses.