Villagers who witnessed two civilians killed last week say Burma Army soldiers on a search and kill mission fired indiscriminately into a jungle hiding site killing the two civilians in Southern Burma, on August 21.
A local Karen National Union source from Mergui-Tavoy District (Tenasserim Division) told Karen News that soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 555, led by Commander Zaw Min Oo, found Karen villagers hiding in a displaced camp known as Htee Ter Ha, in the Palaw area of Ler Mu Lah Township and opened fire on them.
One of those killed immediately was villager Saw Kaw Ler aged 30. According to the KNU source The Burma Army soldiers also captured Saw Kya Keh a villager, aged 37, and killed him the next day.
On 24 August Burma Army LIB 555 fought with Karen fighters while on their campaign to search out and kill displaced villagers in the area. The KNU claimed two Burma Army soldiers were killed and another two wounded.
International humanitarian groups say Burma Army uses a ‘Four-Cuts’ offensive against the Karen. The aim is to stop community support, food, information and recruitment to the Karen resistance. Whole communities are designated ‘Black Zones’ and relocated. Villagers caught in ‘Black Zones’ are shot on sight and crops, homes, and animals are destroyed.
Local people say Karen villagers who refused to obey Burma Army orders to move to relocation sites are considered by the Burma Army as the enemy or KNU supporters and are hunted down, killed and their possessions destroyed.
The Thai Burma Border Consortium estimate that at least 470,000 people are internally displaced in eastern Burma alone.
Saw Steve, the secretary of the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People, a community-based-organizaton that delivers food, shelter and aid to displaced people, has been documenting Burma army killings for a number of years.
“Between 1997 and 2009 the Burma Army murdered 612 Karen villagers and shot and wounded another 214. These are only the cases I know about, there may be many more in other states.”