Give peace a chance – community group calls for Burma Army to withdraw from Karen State

The Karen Community Association UK (KCA UK) has called for Prime Minister David Cameron to pressure President Thein Sein to withdraw his soldiers from ethnic states in order to demonstrate he is serious about improving human rights.

Despite a ceasefire agreement being reached between the Government and the Karen National Union (KNU) in 2012, human rights violations including forced labour, arbitrary detention and land confiscation continue in Karen State.

“We know from our experience that we cannot trust the Burmese Army”, said Htoo Ku Hsa Say, Chairperson of KCA UK. “As long as they are in our land, our people will not feel safe. Therefore, we call on the British Government to ask President Thein Sein to order his troops to remove from our home land, so that trust can be built and those who have lived in fear for decades can start to rebuild their lives without being overlooked by those they feared.”

The British government has said that it supports the cause of human rights and democratic reform in Burma.

The KCA UK says that the best way to ensure peace in Karen State and other ethnic states is for the Burma Army to withdraw.

“As someone who has had to run for my life from the Burmese Army, I can tell Cameron he is wrong to think a few sessions in a classroom stop the Burmese Army committing abuses,” said Htoo Ku Hsa Say. “Human rights abuses are not committed by a few rogue soldiers, they are government policy.”

The KCA UK said in a statement.

“We believe it is right to engage with the Burmese Government as long as the engagement is to promote further reform. However, it is too soon to welcome President Thein Sein as a genuine reformer, a leader of a free nation and trade partner.”

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