The Burma Army is continuing its offensive in Karen State, the biggest since 1997. Eyewitnesses report further killings, burning of villages, the capture of civilians, including children, and the use of forced labour.
According to the latest reports from the Free Burma Rangers, a relief team working in eastern Burma, the number of displaced people in Karen State has risen to over 18,000. In one area, over 800 civilians have been captured and forced to work as porters for the military, along with over 1,000 prisoners.
In the latest reported attack, Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 362 attacked and burned Ger Baw Kee village in northwestern Muthraw District on 2 June. The previous day, Naw Yo Hta and Kay Pu villages suffered a third day of mortar attacks, by three Burma Army battalions. Escaped porters have reported that the Burma Army has plans to expand the operation even further, by attacking Myaunglebin, Toungoo and Muthraw Districts. The Burma Army is moving at least two divisions closer to those areas.
Deliberate attacks on unarmed civilians continue. Villagers have been shot at point-blank range, and several bodies have been found which have been severely mutilated and beheaded. In addition, the Free Burma Rangers report that since May 13, the Burma Army ‘Byaung Shin Special Batallion has been attempting to capture Karen children who go to school in army controlled areas, but whose parents live in the hills east of Toungoo.
In attacks in Muthraw District on May 20, a 17 year-old boy was killed and another wounded when the army opened fire on villagers who were in a farm hut in southern Luthaw Township. In Nyaunglebin District, a Burma Army landmine killed a Karen woman who was 5 months pregnant.
The crisis in Burma has drawn increasing attention from the international community. On May 31, Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett , condemned the Burmese Government's decision to extend the house arrest of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The United States also expressed alarm at Aung San Suu Kyi’s continuing detention and that of other pro-democracy figures. The US went further to announce that it will seek a UN Security Council resolution on Burma.
CSW Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert, says: “It is difficult to imagine the indiscriminate brutality of these atrocities. Whilst we are pleased to see the US putting more pressure on Burma through the UN Security Council, we urge the rest of the international community to follow their lead and seek an end to these attacks by supporting a clear resolution.”