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UK Minister – Government of Burma should ‘reinstate ceasefire agreements’

By Burma Campaign UK  •  June 15, 2011

Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State at the Foreign Office with responsibility for Burma, has written to Burma Campaign UK stating that the government of Burma should ‘reinstate ceasefire agreements with a view to a lasting political settlement.’

The letter, dated 10th June 2011, comes as the Burmese dictatorship has broken the third ceasefire agreement since rigged elections last year, attacking soldiers of the Kachin Independence Army, which has been on ceasefire since 1994. It is the fourth ceasefire agreement broken by the dictatorship, and the third since rigged elections held last November.

The dictatorship broke a ceasefire with part of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army on 8th November 2010, and broke a ceasefire with part of the Shan State Army North on 13th March 2011. Burmese Army soldiers have targeted civilians since breaking these ceasefires, mortar bombing villagers, shooting civilians, raping women, using forced labour, and looting. All these acts are classified as crimes against humanity by the Rome Statute. If the Burmese Army continues attacks in Kachin State, there is likely to be a major escalation of abuses committed by the Burmese Army.

All armed groups have been told to become part of the Burmese Army, but many are refusing as the dictatorship has not agreed to their demands for some level of autonomy and protection of ethnic rights and culture.

Jeremy Browne stated in the letter that: “The government is deeply concerned at the reported breakdown of a ceasefire agreement with the Shan State Army North that had led to renewed conflict in Shan State….We are also following developments in other ethnic areas where we understand ceasefire agreements have been broken or where the Burmese army have increased their military presence.”

He stated that the British Ambassador to Burma has raised the ongoing ethnic conflicts with Burmese Ministers, and the issue had also been raised with the new Burmese Ambassador to the UK. The UK has also raised the issue with fellow EU member states, and the British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have raised the importance of the UN re-invigorating the ‘stalled political process in Burma’ with the UN Secretary General.

“We continue to urge the government of Burma to undertake a full and independent investigation into all human rights abuses and to reinstate ceasefire agreements with a view to a lasting political settlement,” stated Jeremy Browne.

“We welcome the steps the British government has taken so far about this unfolding crisis,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Burma is sliding into large scale civil war which will cause a human rights and humanitarian crisis. The international community needs to act urgently to send a robust message to Thein Sein, Burma’s new dictator, to stop these attacks and implement a nationwide ceasefire. This is a preventable crisis and it is still not too late to stop it escalating, but time is running out fast.”

For more information contact Mark Farmaner on 07941239640, email: mark.farmaner@burmacampaign.org.uk

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This post is in: Press Release

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