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July 16, 2007

By Charlie Butler,2014-05-14 00:16
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July 16, 2007

    News release

     July 16, 2007

Burma helicopters used in current offensive against ethnic

    minorities - 25,000 threatened with starvation

BANGKOK, THAILAND Burma’s increased use of helicopters to maintain a strong

    troop presence and bases in Karen State in Eastern Burma, ensures that there will be

    no cessation to the offensive started in November 2005, which threatens 25,000 people

    with starvation.

The recent sale by India of the military Advanced Light Helicopter reinforces Burma’s

    existing complement of multipurpose helicopters.

Since 2005 Burma’s military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)

    has established at least 33 new army bases in the offensive area. Infrastructure, in the

    form of new roads and helicopter landing pads at a number of army bases in Toungoo,

    Nyaung Lay Bin and Muthraw Districts, allows the Burmese army to quickly restock

    food, weapons and ammunition, and rotate fresh troops into the area.

Where previously the lack of infrastructure and terrain in the region hampered the

    Burmese army’s ability to sustain assaults against the Karen people, now the use of helicopters and the construction of new roads, built with forced civilian labour, have

    solidified the army’s continuous presence in the area” reports Saw Kweh Say from the non-governmental organization Burma Issues.

Helicopters have been reported by one non-governmental organization, Free Burma

    Rangers, to have made nine trips within one day to an army camp at Busakee,

    Toungoo District.

More than 25,000 villagers have been displaced from their homes because of military

    attacks and have not been able to harvest or grow crops for the past two years, leading

    to severe food insecurity and the threat of starvation.

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Details of the offensive are contained in Burma Issues’ DVD and report Shoot on Sight

    which documents the human rights abuses endured by the ethnic Karen minority,

    including forced portering, forced labour, land confiscation, torture, extra-judicial killings,

    looting, destruction of property, restriction of movement, arbitrary arrest, sexual and

    gender based violence and extortion.

Saw Kweh Say appealed for support from the international community to take

    immediate action. Specifically,

    i) ASEAN, China and India to pressure the State Peace and Development

    Council to immediately stop the offensive in Eastern Burma;

    ii) Thailand to enable and support potential donor countries in providing cross-

    border aid to communities inside Burma, especially for women and children;

    and

    iii) Governments of Asia and ASEAN to support a UN Security Council resolution

    on Burma.

    -30-

    Refugees from Burma

    Thailand (in camps) 150,000 Total in SE Asia as of December 2006 725,500

Source: World Refugee Survey 2006

    Internally Displaced Persons as of December 2006

    Burma at least 1,000,000 Eastern Burma (Thai/Burma border) 500,000

    - 287,000 living in ceasefire areas; 118,000 in SPDC-controlled relocation

    sites and 95,000 in hiding in forests

    - Approximately 27,000 newly displaced IDPs during 2006

    Source: Thailand Burma Border Consortium November 2006 Survey

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    Destroyed / relocated / abandoned villages

No comprehensive data exists for the number of destroyed villages or new army

    camps constructed countrywide.

    2005-2006 232

Source: Thailand Burma Border Consortium November 2006 Survey

For more information on Burma Issues visit out Web site at

    http://www.burmaissues.org/En/Index.html

For more information contact:

    Saw Kweh Say

    Planning Committee Member

    Burma Issues

    087 842 3015

    Backgrounder

Burma Issues is a not-for-profit organization focusing on marginalized communities

    within Burma to build peace based on justice for everyone. Its approach is rooted in

    community organization and empowerment, which take their form through grassroots

    organizing, activist development, information for action, and international peace

    campaigns.

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