Burma Army Kills Karen Aid Worker

Local Karen community based groups confirmed that an aid worker who was helping displaced villagers in the area was shot and killed by a Burma Army soldier on April 5th. The aid worker was named as Saw O Moo, a villager from Ler Mu Plaw and he is survived by his wife Naw Paw Tha and seven young children. The family were forced to flee the Burma Army’s first attacks on Ler Mu Plaw on March 4th.

The area where the killing of Saw O Moo took place is in Northern Karen State where fighting has been a constant since early March. The fighting in Mutraw (Papun) District began on March 4th forcing over 2,300 villagers to flee their homes and are still unable to return.

The Mutraw Emergency Assistance Team – a coalition of community based groups providing aid to villagers displaced by the recent fighting – issued a statement on April 9th that confirmed that Saw O Moo, 42, from Ler Mu Plaw village was shot dead by a Burma Army soldier on April 5 while on his way back home after holding a meeting to organize humanitarian assistance for the displaced villagers.

Saw O Moo was a leader of the Mutraw Indigenous Karen Community and actively advocated for indigenous Karen’s right including land, forest governance and peace. As a member of MEAT he coordinated assistance to the displaced villagers.

Saw Soe Doh, a spokeperson for MEAT spoke to Karen News about Saw O Moo’s killing.

“We haven’t been able to retrieve his body yet but we can confirm now that the shooting killed him.”

Saw O Moo was also a local community partner with the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN).

KESAN issued a tribute to Saw O Moo on April 9, “Indigenous Karen people of Mutraw and staff of the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) are mourning the loss of one of their most committed land protectors, peace advocates, and Indigenous rights defenders…”

The KESAN statement pointed out that “Saw O Moo’s is yet another casualty of the ongoing fighting that has broken out between the Burma Army and the Karen National Liberation Army. The Burma Army broke the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in order to seize territory and to construct a road for military operations through Indigenous Karen people’s ancestral lands.”

The Mutraw Emergency Assistance Team statement pointed out that by shooting humanitarian worker, Burma Army is not only breaking the ceasefire agreement, but is also a human right violation. The group demand protection for humanitarian workers from the President and State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Padoh Mahn Mahn, a spokeperson for the Mutraw Emergency Assistance Team, told Karen News about their demand.

“We asked for the President and State Counsellor to take actions on this – such as preventing such incidents from happening again and withdrawing troops from the area to stop further confrontations. We also want the road construction stopped so that villagers can return home safely.”

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