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Thein Sein’s Europe Visit Undermines Prospects for Genuine Reform in Burma

By European Karen Network  •  March 4, 2013

Karen communities across Europe express concern over President Thein Sein visiting European countries and call on European governments to reconsider their foreign policy in light of ongoing serious human rights abuses in Burma.

The European Karen Network strongly believes that European government should not be welcoming President Thein Sein while serious human rights abuses continues to be committed by his government, including ongoing attacks against ethnic civilians, sexual violence, obstruction of aid, torture, forced labour, and  executions.

In a letter to the government of Norway, Karen Community Norway wrote; “We were deeply disappointed to see the shifting of your government’s policy, from prioritizing the promotion of human rights and democracy to prioritizing the promotion of trade and investment.  The recent visit by Thein Sein to Norway undermines prospects for genuine reform and an end to human rights abuses, as your government is no longer sufficiently pressuring the Burmese government to make these reforms.”

It is too big a reward and it is too soon to give Thein Sein red-carpet treatment in Europe, as Burma is not yet a democratic country. It remains ruled by a military-backed government, which continues to attack ethnic civilians and refuses to repeal the repressive laws.  For many decades, our Karen people have been under attack by the Burmese Army. We know from our firsthand experience how the government in Burma continues to violate international laws. In a letter to the government of Finland, the Karen Community Finland wrote; “Thein Sein’s government continues to violate international laws by keeping hundreds of political prisoners in jail, torturing innocent civilians, obstructing humanitarian aid in ethnic areas, and committing sexual violence by the Burmese Army including rape and gang-rape against ethnic women.”

“Two years after becoming President, Thein Sein still hasn’t begun political dialogue to resolve problems in Burma”, said Tah Eh Shee, board member of the European Karen Network. “The ceasefire in Karen State hasn’t yet brought peace and stopped the Burmese Army committing human rights abuses. This is because a ceasefire alone without a political settlement cannot bring genuine peace.”

We would like to go back home in Burma. However, there is no concrete sign so far that Thein Sein is committing to a genuine peace that will guarantee safety and security for our people to return home.  We, the Karen ethnic of Burma, are struggling for the establishment of a federal democratic Burma that guarantees equal rights and self-determination for our people and for all the people in Burma, to create a real and lasting peace in the country.

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This post is in: Press Release

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