Articles

The Elephant and the Sesame Seed: Education still not a priority for Burmese government

A dire economy and grinding poverty in Karen State have left its education system in shambles and a generation of young people cut off from educational opportunities they are desperate to receive. Nan Moo Mu*, 16, from Mi Tan village in Kyain Seikgyi township, is one such student. She was supposed to begin Grade 9 this year but has considered…

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Border Crisis: No relief in sight

Teachers in central Karen state had to close their schools when they heard the Burma army were attacking villages in the area. Teacher, Saw Nway Oo, taught primary school at Kwee Ta Eu village until the soldiers fired heavy mortar and artillery shells into the village. “We had to run from our school. We had just rebuilt the school. It…

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Karen youth urged to shoulder burden of cultural preservation

The newly elected Burmese civilian government is desperate to appear to the outside world as a fledgling democracy intent on building a civil society. But ‘good-feel’ statements made by elected government ministers at a Karen training course did little to convince, as the Burma army continues its strategy of militarization in Eastern Burma by displacing Karen hundreds of villagers in…

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Cheated into Servitude: A Convict Porter’s Story

A former convict porter speaks to reporter Cha Mu about his arrest and imprisonment for drug use, and his subsequent conscription by the military as a porter in Karen State. My name is Tin Hlaing. I am a 35-year-old ethnic Burman. I’m single and have six siblings. On July 15, 2008, I was arrested at the Than Lin bridge with…

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REPATRIATION: A Crime to Go Home

Recent moves by the Thai government to send back refugees from Burma have spurred fears among the 140,000 estimated refugees living in camps along the Thai-Burma border. Thailand’s National Security Council secretary, General Tawin Pleansri, told local media recently that the government was considering a plan to repatriate the refugees. Tak provincial Governor Samart Loifah further fuelled refugee fears when…

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KNLA attack killed and wounded 13 Burmese soldiers

Karen National Liberation Army sources confirmed that clashes in May in the Walay area of Myawaddy Township between Karen fighters and the Burmese army had killed six Burmese soldiers and wounded seven others. Major General Saw Kyi Aung, commander of KNLA Battalion 201 who fought in the clashes, said KNLA forces engaged Burmese troops from Light Infantry Brigade 371 based…

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Villagers fear Salween Dam

In spite of the devastation and loss of life caused by recent earthquakes in northern Thailand and northeast Burma government officials are pushing ahead with its plans to dam the Salween River. The Thai government responded to the recent earth quake in northern Thailand by calling for ‘a meeting for key agencies’ to develop strategies to cope with future earthquakes.…

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Rain and cold a crisis for new refugees

Community organisations delivering aid to refugees recently displaced by fighting in Karen state are worried the recent cold weather and heavy rain along the border are a health risk for the 12,000 people taking shelter in makeshift hiding sites. Community health workers warn displaced people hiding along the Thai Burma border are urgently in need of weatherproof shelters as the…

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KNU urges commission of inquiry on Burma war crimes

The Karen National Union urged support in a recent statement for a United Nations Commission of Inquiry (CoI) in Burma to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity at the hands of the nation’s armed forces. “We call upon the international community and the UN to support and give mandate to the formation of Commission of Inquiry to investigate…

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1,000 BGF troops join forces with Karen army

The Burma Army plans to militarize eastern Burma suffered a severe set-back in central Pa-an when more than a 1,000 soldiers of the recently formed Border Guard Force joined forces with fighters aligned to the Karen National Union. During the last 18 months, the Burma army has attempted to disarm and dismantle ethnic ceasefire groups under its control. The military…

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