Human Rights Group Welcomes 1-Day Ceasefire in Burma

The decision of the Karen National Union to observe a one-day ceasefire on the International Day of Peace has been welcomed by Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The Christian human rights group said the move was an "important sign of respect" for the day of peace on September 21 and a "symbol of the Karen people's desire for peace and freedom."

The KNU is one of the largest armed groups in Burma and has been locked in conflict against military offensives by successive regimes for the last 60 years.

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The KNU represents the largely Christian Karen minority, which faces intense persecution from the military regime. Instances of persecution has included people being used as human minesweepers, as well as torture and rape.

CSW's East Asia team leader, Benedict Rogers, said more than 3,500 Karen villages have been destroyed by the regime since 1996.

He called on the regime to implement a permanent nationwide ceasefire and end its military offensives against civilians in the ethnic states.

"We warmly welcome the KNU's unilateral declaration as an important sign of respect for the International Day of Peace and a symbol of the Karen people's desire for peace and freedom," he said Wednesday.

"The KNU has demonstrated in its statement today, as it has on many previous occasions, its desire to resolve the issues by peaceful, political means," he continued. "It is now up to the regime to respond, by calling an end to its campaigns of brutality, declaring a permanent, nationwide ceasefire, withdrawing its troops from ethnic areas, and engaging in a meaningful, tripartite dialogue with the representatives of the ethnic nationalities and the democracy movement to build a peaceful, federal democracy in Burma which respects human rights.

"We hope and pray that the International Day of Peace will have real and lasting meaning for all the people of Burma."

The Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches have declared this Sunday Peacemaking Sunday ahead of the International Day of Peace.

They have released resources to help churches focus on peace and areas of conflict in their sermons and prayers.

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