The Nightmare Returns: Karen Hopes for Peace and Stability Dashed by Burma Army’s Actions

On March 4th, the Burma Army began the largest and most coordinated deployment of troops into Karen State’s Mutraw (Hpapun) district since 2008, breaching the terms of the NCA and provoking multiple clashes with the Karen National Liberation Army’s (KNLA) 5th Brigade. Burma Army soldiers have indiscriminately targeted civilians while more than 2,400 villagers have been forced to flee their land and homes. The majority of those displaced by the Burma Army’s current operations had only recently returned to rebuild their villages, farms, and livelihoods following decades attacks by the Burma Army and displacement in the area.

The KNU and Burma Army are both signatories to the 2015 NCA, which prohibits the expansion of military infrastructure and troop reinforcements in ceasefire areas. However, since March 4th, at least eight Burma Army battalions have entered Luthaw, without the required prior agreement  from the KNLA, and begun constructing a military operations road to connect their military bases. If the road is built, Indigenous Karen villagers may be permanently displaced from their homes and ancestral village territories.

KPSN Media Release The Nightmare Returns

The Nightmare Returns – English version

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KWO Statement on International Women’s Day

KWO Statement in Karen Version:

KWO Statement in English Version:

 

Refugee Activists Discuss Pressure to Return from Thai-Myanmar Border at Chiang Mai Seminar

At a public seminar in Thailand last week, Karen and Karenni officials raised concerns about the increasing pressure for refugees to return from the Thai-Myanmar border as international funding for camps dries up.

“The refugees from the Thai-Myanmar border are not ready to return home,” said Naw Elizabeth, deputy director of the Karenni Education Department, who took part in the September 13 seminar at Chiang Mai University.

“We discussed the need for international donors to continue their support as the refugees’ continue to have basic unmet needs [like] education and health,” she added.

The public event, called “Syria to Myanmar: Who are Refugees?” was organized by the US Embassy in Thailand and Chiang Mai University. About 100 people attended, included members of refugee and internally displaced persons assistance groups like the Border Consortium, the Karen Refugee Committee, the Karenni Education Department and the Shan Women’s Action Network.

Over 100,000 refugees live in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border while over 3,000 Karen IDPs remain at the Ei Tu Hta temporary shelter and over 6,000 Shan IDPs are residing in camps along the Thai-Shan border, according to refugee activists. They added that after the Myanmar government and ethnic armed organizations signed ceasefire agreements and started implementing the peace process beginning in 2011, pressure has escalated for refugees and IDPs to return to their homes. While international aid organizations, swamped with other, fresher crises, are forced to dedicate resources elsewhere, the Myanmar refugees say their needs are increasingly going unmet, while lack of livelihoods in their original villages, and in some cases the threat of landmines and fresh conflict, prevents an easy return.

“The international community does not know the real situation of our refugees. I’m glad to have the chance to explain how the issues occurring at the Karen refugee camps are directly related to Myanmar politics,” said Saw Hay Soe Thar Ko, an education officer with the Karen Refugee Committee.

According to participants, a foreign student also discussed the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State at the seminar. Over 400,000 Muslim residents have fled over the border to Bangladesh in the past month, while 30,000 Buddhist and Hindu villagers have been internally displaced by fighting between an insurgent group and the Tatmadaw.

  • Written by Saw Shar/ KIC News

The original article can be viewed via BNI at:

http://www.bnionline.net/news/karen-state/item/3497-refugee-activists-discuss-pressure-to-return-from-thai-myanmar-border-at-chiang-mai-seminar.html