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Burma Regime Attacks Civilians In Shan State – UK Must Act

By Burma Campaign UK  •  May 5, 2011

Burma Campaign UK today called on the British government to publicly condemn the dictatorship in Burma for breaking ceasefire agreements with ethnic organisations in Burma, including breaking the ceasefire with the Shan State Army – North. The dictatorship in Burma is threatening to plunge the country into conflict, which will lead to a major human rights and humanitarian crisis.

Burma Campaign UK today publishes a new briefing paper, Crisis in Shan State, to highlight the current crisis. Burma Briefing No 12 is available here.

There has already been a major increase in human rights abuses since the dictatorship broke a 22 year long ceasefire agreement with the Shan State Army – North on 13th March. 3,500 Burmese Army soldiers have taken part in a military offensive in north-central Shan State, an area with a population of 100,000. Sixty-five clashes were reported in the first three weeks of the dictatorship breaking the ceasefire. Civilians are being targeted in the military offensive, with mortar bombs fired at civilian villages. Abuses committed by the Burmese Army include arbitrary execution, arbitrary detention, torture, looting, rape, forced relocation and forced labour. These abuses are violations of international law. Since breaking the ceasefire, abuses continue on a daily basis.

Under the new 2008 Constitution, the Burmese Army is the only permitted armed organisation allowed in the country. Armed ethnic organisations with ceasefire agreements took part in the National Convention which drafted the principles of the Constitution. Every single one of their proposals which would grant some level of autonomy to ethnic states, and protection for ethnic rights and culture, were rejected by the dictatorship. Instead they were told to join the Burmese Army or face military attack.

The breaking of the ceasefire with Shan State Army – North on 13 March is the third time in the past two years the dictatorship has broken a ceasefire agreement. It is also threatening to break all other ceasefire agreements. This would lead to large scale conflict from Mon State, Karen State, and Karenni State, to Shan State and Kachin State. The armed ethnic organisations are prepared to negotiate for apolitical solutions, but the dictatorship refuses to enter into genuine dialogue. The result of more ceasefire agreements being broken would be a major humanitarian crisis and a massive escalation in human rights abuses against civilians, as the Burmese Army targets civilians in conflict.

“The British government should have the same robust policy towards attacks against civilians in Shan State, Burma, as it has with Libya and Syria,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Shan women are being gang-raped, villages mortar bombed, and villagers used as slave labour. The British government should immediately condemn these attacks, and mobilise the international community to work for a nationwide ceasefire in Burma.”

Burma Campaign UK has for many years warned about the danger of Burma’s new Constitutions leading to increased conflict in Burma. So far, the international community has failed to take any action to prevent this foreseeable conflict.

Burma Briefing No 12 – Crisis in Shan State, is available here.

Burma Briefing No 11 – Burma’s New Constitution – Denying Ethnic Rights, is available here.

For more information contact
Anna Roberts at: 44(0)7950849529.

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This post is in: Press Release

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