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

By Karen National Union  •  February 28, 2011


On Monday 28 February 2011, a petition signed by 84,000 Ethnic Karen civilians will be handed in the office of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and other world leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The petition delivery will take place in 8 countries including Japan, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Canada. This petition is endorsed by 30 Karen organizations from 15 countries around the world and it is the first time a Karen petition will be delivered to world leaders.

The 84,000 ethnic Karen civilians have signed a petition calling on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take effective 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 7thNovember 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 Ban Ki-moon to work with concerned governments around the world to secure a nationwide ceasefire, leading to meaningful and inclusive dialogue to achieve genuine national reconciliation and the establishment of a federal Burma that guarantee ethnic equality and human rights.” The KNU is working for a peaceful, stable, democratic and federal Burma.

Organizations taking actions and supporting the petition

  1. Australia Karen Organisation
  2. America Karen Association of Utica
  3. Denmark Karen Organisation
  4. Eastern Pennsylvania Karen Community
  5. European Karen Network
  6. Karen Canadian Community
  7. Karen Community of Arizona
  8. Karen Community Association Ireland
  9. Karen Community Association UK
  10. Karen Community Norway
  11. Karen Community in Czech Republic
  12. Karen Communities of Mid Atlantic
  13. Karen Community of Minnesota
  14. Karen Community of Wisconsin
  15. Karen National Community – Japan
  16. Karen National Community Germany
  17. Karen National Community Netherlands
  18. Karen National League Japan
  19. Karen National Union Japan
  20. Karen National Union UK
  21. Karen Swedish Community
  22. Karen Youth Organisation – Korea
  23. Karen Youth Organisation – Kawthoolei
  24. Karen Student Network Group
  25. Karen Teacher Working Group
  26. Karen University Student Group
  27. Karen Women’s Organisation
  28. Malaysian Karen Organisation
  29. Overseas Karen Organisation – Japan
  30. Overseas Karen Refugees’ Social Organisation
  31. Utica Karen Community


  1. Australia
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Germany
  4. Norway
  5. Ireland
  6. Sweden
  7. Denmark
  8. Czech Republic
  9. Canada
  10. United States of America
  11. Japan
  12. South Korea
  13. Burma
  14. Thailand
  15. Malaysia
  16. Netherlands

For more information contact Naw Zipporah Sein on +66856511078 (English & Karen) and Saw Hla Ngwe on +66 843816664 (Burmese & Karen)

Notes to editors

For action around the world media contacts are:

Australia: Saw Lwin Oo, National President of Australia Karen Organisation, Phone +61 4123 44009

USA: Htoo Paw from KNU Foreign Office, Phone: +1 646 673 4895
Stephen Dun, KNU Representative USA, Phone +1 206 295 8553

Canada: Mahn Kyaw Shwe, Chairperson of Karen Canadian Community, Phone +1 519 434 0139
Nimrod Andrew, KNU Representative Canada, Phone + 1 613 322 7658

Europe: Mahn Aung Lwin, KNU representatives Germany, Phone +15140700316
Htoo Ku Hsar Say, Chairperson, Karen Community Association UK, Phone: +44 794 052 2425

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This post is in: Press Release

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