Refugees petition US to help stop human rights abuses in Burma

Burma ethnic refugees living in the United State sent a petition to Ambassador Derek Mitchell urging him to pressure the Burma government to stop the systematic widespread human rights abuses in ethnic areas.

On March 22nd, the petition was signed by 5,000 refugees from eight different Burma ethnic groups in 67 cities in the US. The petition was delivered to Ambassador Mitchell in his office at the U.S. Department of State by Aung Din and Myra Dahgaypaw, US Campaign for Burma (USCB), and Gum San Maung, President of the Kachin National Organization U.S.A. In a press statement released by the groups, Myra Dahgaypaw said.

“It is exciting that these former refugees are now using their rights in the U.S. to speak out for their friends and families left in conflict zones in Burma. When I meet these communities, they all told me how worried they are for their relatives and villagers back home. For many ethnic people in Burma, things have not gotten better. In many cases it has gotten worse.”

Myra Dahgaypaw is a former refugee who spent over twenty five years as displaced person in Burma and as a refugee on the Thai-Burma border.

The letter to Ambassador Mitchell from the resettled refugees said.

“As people from ethnic nationalities in Burma who have been subject to severe atrocities, we are grieved that the rights of people continue to be abused, especially while the international community asserts that positive change is happening. We are particularly concerned that while the main focus of international diplomatic efforts has been on some

limited reforms affecting central Burma, insufficient attention is being paid to developments in ethnic states. ”

Derek Mitchell is U.S. Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma. Mr Mitchell was in Burma last week and met with senior government officials in the country’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

On March 9th, in Karen State, a humanitarian group Free Burma Ranges reported that a Karen village volunteers were shot at, one was killed and one wounded, by Burma Army soldiers from Military Operation Command 9. The two villagers were killed while crossing the car road at Ka Thay Hta in southern Taungoon District.

Several reports by human rights have focused on the continuing abuses committed by the Burma Army in Karen, Shan and Kachin States.

In a previous Karen News story a villager said that Burma Army battalions under Division 66 ordered seven villagers from Kaw Thay Der, in Thandaung township, Taungoon District to use their motorcycles to deliver army rations to Yaw Hsa Lo camp, on March 8.

The Karen Women Oroganisation (KWO) reported that two Burma Army soldiers attempted to rape a 22-year old mother while she was working. The victim was badly beaten and drugged. She only manage to escape when nearby gunfire caused the soldiers to leave.

Fighting in Kachin State has increased, with the New York-base Human Rights Watch reporting this week that as many as 75,000 ethnic Kachin have been displaced and are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Human Rights Watch said the Burma Army burned villages, forcibly conscripted child soldiers, tortured civilians, and looted properties.

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