5 May 2011

Act now to stop further atrocities in Burma

imageLast month there were reports from local organisations in Shan State, Eastern Burma that the Burmese Army has been gang-raping women, torturing villagers, executing them, and firing mortar bombs into their villages. Many are taken as slaves to carry supplies for the Burmese Army. We have just seen the fake election and release of Aung San Suu Kyi (left) - they were trying to suggest things had changed but it seems the regimes actions speak louder than words.

A brutal regime is targeting civilians. In Libya there is international action, in Syria there is
international condemnation, but on Shan State, Burma, there is silence.

Please join me in writing to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP, calling on the
British government to act. Click read more to see the Burma Campaign letter.
Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street

Dear Foreign Secretary,

I am writing to you regarding the current crisis in Shan State and the
threat of increased conflict across Burma, which requires immediate
international action.

On 13th March 2011 the dictatorship in Burma broke a 22 year long ceasefire
agreement with the Shan State Army  North. 3,500 Burmese Army soldiers took
part in a military offensive in north-central Shan State, an area with a
population of 100,000. Sixty-five clashes were reported in the first three
weeks of the dictatorship breaking the ceasefire. Civilians are being
targeted in the military offensive, with mortar bombs fired at civilian
villages. Abuses committed by the Burmese Army include arbitrary execution,
arbitrary detention, torture, looting, rape, forced relocation and forced
labour. These abuses are violations of international law. Since breaking the
ceasefire, abuses continue on a daily basis.

Under the new 2008 Constitution, the Burmese Army is the only permitted
armed organisation allowed in the country. The organisations with ceasefire
agreements took part in the National Convention which drafted the principles
of the Constitution. Every single one of their proposals which would grant
some level of autonomy to ethnic states, and protection for ethnic rights
and culture, were rejected by the dictatorship.

The British government has repeatedly stated that dialogue is the way to
solve political problems in Burma. All armed ethnic organisations in Burma,
those on ceasefire, and those not, are willing to enter into dialogue. The
dictatorship, however, is once again using violence and military force
rather than dialogue. It is also deliberately targeting civilians.

When the regimes in Libya and Syria attacked civilians, you led condemnation
and international action. But on the situation in Shan State, and escalating
attacks against civilians in other ethnic states since the elections in
Burma last November, you have been silent, and no practical action has been

I call on you to make a public statement condemning the dictatorship for
breaking ceasefire agreements, and the serious human rights abuses it is
committing in Shan State, and calling for a nationwide ceasefire in Burma.

The British government should also increase humanitarian assistance to those
affected by conflict, including cross-border aid to areas where aid agencies
and others do not have access.

Yours sincerely, Philip Booth

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