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Government fails to deliver on its promise of free education

Amid much fanfare the new Burma education minister announced in April this year that all compulsory primary education would be free in the academic year 2011 to 2012. Parents in Karen State say it is now July and so far the much-lauded free education has yet to materalize as promised. A mother of students attending Pa-an Town high school told…

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Tak Governor cranks up the pressure on Burmese refugees

Mr Samart Loifah, the governor of Tak Province, sent shockwaves through the Burmese refugee camps when he told reporters earlier this week that Thai authorities had been discussing with Burmese officials the possibility of closing the border camps. Mr. Loifah also speculated that Thai authorities would target Burmese pro-democracy opposition groups living on the Thai side of the border. Mr…

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Part 2: The Elephant and the Sesame Seed – Refugee education hit hard by severe budget cuts

International funds for Burmese refugees living in Thailand are being slashed — ZOA, a major educational donor plans to stop operating in the camps by 2012. Recent budget cuts to international educational organisations operating in seven refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border have resulted in many teachers leaving. Teachers told Karen News that the coming year will be a challenge…

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Burma army targets ethnic women

Reports this week from Kachin and Shan States confirm rape is still being used as a tactic by the Burma Army to demoralise and terrorise ethnic communities. Shirley Seng, a spokeswomen working with the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, told Karen News that since June 9, Burma army soldiers have raped 32 women. “No woman is safe from these soldiers. In…

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KNU Stops Tavoy Road Construction

A giant construction project managed by an Italian-Thai company has run into a number of major stumbling blocks in Karen State. Villagers say they have not been compensated for the loss of their land and the Karen National Union has stopped it building a highway to Thailand. The Italian-Thai Development Company has begun negotiations with the Karen National Union to…

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Villagers claim dam will ruin lives

Karen News reporters investigate persistent rumours that a dam site is being prepared for construction in Southern Burma. The site, on the Tenasserim River, is causing concern among villagers in the area who claim that a Thai company has been surveying the area and plans to build a hydro-power dam on the river that means villagers will be evicted and…

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Former BGF fighters ready for war

The desertion, in April of a 1,000 Border Guard Force soldiers from under the control of the Burma Army has given a huge boost to other Karen armed groups. Karen News reporter Saw K’ Shee has just returned from interviewing the renegade BGF leader, Major Saw Beeh at his undisclosed jungle headquarters. The former BGF fighters are well organised. They…

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Deadmen Walking

Humanitarian groups accuse Burmese government soldiers of committing war crimes against ‘convict porters’ used in frontline conditions A joint report by the New York based Human Rights Watch and the Thai Burma border based Karen Human Rights Group – “Dead Men Walking: Convict Porters on the Front Lines in Eastern Burma” was released today in Bangkok at the Foreign Correspondents…

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Deadly ambush kills Burma army officers

Karen National Liberation Army sources confirmed their fighters killed two Burma army soldiers and wounded four others in an ambush on the Kler Day road, Karen State on 2 July. The sources said the dead included a Burma army battalion commander Major Eh Hser Hser, office manager of KNLA Brigade 7 told Karen News that their soldiers ambushed Burma army…

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Hlaingbwe devastated by floods – getting aid is a lottery

Residents of Hlaingbwe Town are still fighting floodwaters that swamped central Karen State last month. Town people say flooding caused by heavy rains broke the banks of the Hlaingbwe River in late June, putting many residential areas under water. Government officials say the amount of aid allocated for victims is not enough. A civil servant working in Hlaingbwe town told…

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