25 January 2007

Awareness Spot: Ethnic Cleansing in Burma

Since this week we have Holocaust memorial week (a summary will follow) and no effective international actions have been taken to stop the on-going genocide in Burma (China and Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the issue at the beginning of this year), I would like to dedicate this blog post to raise awareness on the situation local ethnic minorities (the Karen being the biggest group among them) have been facing until this very day.



"Burma became independent from the British in 1947. What followed was 15 years of elected parliament and democracy that was hampered by ethnic unrest, lack of unity and economic troubles. In 1962 a coup was staged by General Ne Win which brought the Burmese military into power. Ne Win instigated the Burma Socialist Programme Party and a policy to wipe out the ethnic opposition groups that were struggling to assert their own identities and cultures. In the 1970s Ne Win went even further and introduced the 4 cuts program which was an attempt to cut off food, information, recruits and financial support to these armed ethnic opposition groups. The policy has mostly affected the villagers that live in these ethnic border areas. They are the recipients of Burmese military enacted human rights abuses, forced relocations, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, rape, village destruction, forced labour and portering. All of which has created the ever increasing IDP [internally displaced people] population that are either forced to leave their homes by the Burmese military or are fleeing Burmese military human rights abuses." - (Burma Issues webpage, retrieved 24 January 2007)

A critical view on tourism to Burma is shown by Austrian Roland Wehap's recent movie "Burma All Inclusive", though I am not sure if it is available in English as well. There are a few screenings coming up in Graz.

Burma snapshots is a very short film featuring two Karen who smuggle medicines over the Thai border and collect evidence of human rights violations.

Finally, you can find information on the website of Human Rights Watch on Burma.

"In 1992, the [Burmese] Health Minister, Ket Sein, reportedly boasted to a large meeting in Rangoon: 'In 10 years, all Karen will be dead. If you want to see a Karen, you will have to go to a museum in Rangoon' ". - (Burma Net News, retrieved 24 January 2007)

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