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10,000 Karen Villagers Protest – Demand Burma Army Withdraws and Stop Its Road Building Through Indigenous Lands

More than 10,000 indigenous Karen villagers gathered in the Northern Karen State in Mutraw (Papun) District on December 30, 2020 demanding the withdrawal of Burma Army camps and to stop building roads in their areas.

By Sa Isue

Villagers gathered at three different locations in Luthaw Township to protest their concerns over the controversial road construction. The villagers said the road construction has to stop as they do not have any guarantees for their security. The villagers pointed out there has not been any political solutions and they are concern the military access is for the purpose of militarization of the area and in preparation of offensives against Karen.

Saw Blu Doh Moo, a protester from Klo Baw Hta village said.

“We can’t agree to the construction of this road by the Burma Army. They came up and built roads through our indigenous lands. The construction not only destroys our environment but it’s a threat to our daily life and our security.”

Villagers said there has been a recent increase in incidents involving Burma Army soldiers indiscriminately firing both artillery and rifles into village’s areas and using spy-drones in the area – this has increased concerns for safety among villagers and is the reason for the demand for troops to withdraw form the area.

Villagers called for the Karen National Union leaders to show their solidarity and to stand with villagers in pressuring the Burma Army to stop the road construction and to withdraw its troops from their lands.

Protesting villagers came from twelve village tracts in Luthaw Township including Kay Pu, Naw Yo Hta, Ler Mu Plaw, Sgaw Mu Plaw, Kaw Lu Der, Pla Koh, Yeh Mu Plaw, Kheh Pa, Pay Kay, Baw Thay Hta, Ka Law Hta and Tay Mu Der village tracts.

Naw Bu Moo Paw, who participated in the protest from Paw Say Pu village said.

“We have suffered abuse since our grandparents’ time. The whole country and the world needs to know about it. We want the world to know what we have been suffering, so have taken to protest.”

Large numbers of villagers protested at Naw Yo Hta (3,900), Htee Haw Hta, (over a 1,000) and at Day Pu Noh, (over 5,700).

The latest protest is the third in 2020 that villagers from Northern Karen State protested and demanded the withdrawal of Burma Army from their communities.

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