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ASEAN, UN, asked to support refugees fleeing armed conflict in Burma: This shows the bankruptcy of junta’s 2010 polls, activists say

By Initiatives for International Dialogue  •  December 15, 2010

There is no doubt in our mind that this decades-old armed conflict in Burma can only be resolved by forcing the junta to democratize. The Burmese junta historically is even fuelling the conflict between armed groups. This continued armed conflict simply exposes the bankruptcy of junta’s 2010 elections.”

Thus said Egoy Bans, spokesperson of the Free Burma Coalition-Philippines in reaction to the armed conflict that sparked recently near the Thai-Burma borders as a result of an increasing tension between the Burma’s military regime, The State Peace and Development Council and ethnic armed groups.

Reports confirmed that the on-going conflict between Burma’s state army, the Tatmadaw, and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) continues following major clashes on November 8th and 9th 2010 in the large towns of Myawaddy and Three Pagodas Pass, on the Thailand-Burma border. These clashes initially caused at least 25,000 people to flee to Thailand. More than 12,000 people sought refuge in Mae Sot, opposite Myawaddy on the Thai side of the Moei River; 10,000 sought refuge on the Thai side of Three Pagodas Pass, and another 2,500 attempted to find protection in Thailand.

Civilians attempting to flee due to fears of conflict and conflict-related abuses say they are exhausted. Some have crossed the border repeatedly over the last few days, each time being told soon after that it was safe for them to return.

Many others, particularly children, the elderly and those that believe they face heightened risk of reprisals and/or arrest as porters, are in dire need of protection in Thailand.

“We call on international governments, especially the UN and the ASEAN – thru the ASEAN Inter-Govermental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to monitor what is happening in Burma now, and ensure humanitarian protecion. An immediate ceasefire must be reached for the sake of the innocent civilians especially women and children, “ Bans added.

He continued, “we likewise urge the Thai regime to provide temporary refuge and assistance to the refugees and do not force the people to return to the areas of conflict until a careful risk assessment is ensured.”

Villagers also continue to report that they are treated with intense suspicion by Tatmadaw troops. This suspicion is both exposing civilians to risks of human rights abuses, such as arbitrary arrest and detention, and limiting the ability of community leaders to negotiate protection for civilians.

“We urge international governments to approach this problem accordingly. The junta can not argue anymore that this is something internal to them as the conflict already went beyond their borders. Now the call for a UN Commission of Inquiry to Burma’s crimes against humanity becomes more relevant,” Bans said.

Now it is becoming more clear that the junta’s 2010 elections is irrelevant. This conflict is a testament not just to the junta’s inability to govern but more so with its unwillingness to democratize,” he concluded.

— There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him. – Robert Heinlein


Gani Abunda: (+63)929-4109647, Egoy N. Bans (+63917)7247582
c/o Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
+632 435 2900; +632 9110205

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This post is in: Press Release

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