RealNews

Myanmar Campaign Vs. Rebels Seen Escalating

Lu Khu Paw says soldiers shot her father as he gathered bamboo in the forest, laid waste to the rice fields and burned down their home three different times. The 16-year-old vividly remembers her village in flames, survivors fleeing and her mother dying of disease in a jungle hide-out. Nang Poung, a 33-year-old farmer, recounts how troops dragged 30 males, three of them relatives, to an execution ground and herded everyone else out of her village. What finally impelled her to escape from Myanmar just days ago, she says, was working as a conscripted laborer six days a week, and then having to hand over half the harvest, plus taxes, from family fields. Such stories are commonplace among refugees fleeing a decades-long campaign by Myanmar’s ruling military to suppress rebellious ethnic minorities. Under the present junta, which has aborted an opposition election victory, gunned down demonstrators and kept opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, the campaign against the rebels appears to be escalating in scope and ferocity. The violence has spawned an estimated one million internal refugees, many cowering in bleak hovels deep inside malarial jungles or on bitterly cold mountainsides. It has also sparked an accelerating exodus to neighboring countries, including more than 400,000 to Thailand, where thousands arrive each month, according to the Burma Border Consortium, the main refugee aid group. Full Story

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