New Report Details Systematic Abuse in Burma

A new report from an alliance of NGOs working with the displaced people of Burma has accused the country's military regime of intensifying its oppression of ethnic minorities through a systematic campaign of torture, rape and arbitrary killing.

The Internal Displacement in Eastern Burma Survey, released Monday by the U.K.-based Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), details the eradication of 167 Burmese villages and the forced internal displacement of around 76,000 people between January and September 2007.

Research was carried out in 38 districts of Burma, also known as Myanmar, for the report and accuses the military dictatorship of "carrying out systematic human rights violations through targeted attacks on the civilian population."

"This report confirms once more that Burma's military junta is prepared to use all means necessary in its large-scale and bloody war against Burma's minorities," said Atle Sommerfeldt, general secretary of Norwegian Church Aid, on Monday at a seminar in Oslo to launch the report .

Norwegian Church Aid, a partner organization of the TBBC, believes that as many as half a million people are currently displaced and said the worst affected area was Karen State, where at least 38 people have been murdered in the Thanduang province in 2007 alone.

"It (the report) reinforces yet again the image we have of Burma's regime as the most violent and oppressive in the world today," Sommerfeldt stated.

Late last month, the ruling junta of Burma drew worldwide criticism and media attention when it began a major crackdown on Buddhist monks and the tens of thousands of protestors that they led in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.

Military troops used bullets, tear gas, and clubs to break up the street protests. The government also launched an intimidation campaign that included late-night arrests of citizens.

The Light of Myanmar, a mouthpiece of Burma's ruling junta, reported that as few as 10 people were killed in the junta's Sept. 26-27 crackdown and that only some 1,000 remain in detention centers. Dissident groups, however, said more than 200 had been killed and nearly 6,000 arrested in the crackdown against demonstrations spearheaded by Buddhist monks.

At an emergency session on Oct. 2, the U.N. Human Rights Council condemned the crackdown and urged an immediate investigation of the rights situation in the country.

After barring the U.N.'s human rights investigator from entering the military-ruled country since 2003, Burma's government on Friday agreed to an urgent visit by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who was appointed as the U.N's independent expert on human rights in Burma seven years ago.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win suggested that Pinheiro's visit take place before the Nov. 17 summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

Christian Post correspondent Maria Mackay in London contributed to this report.

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