Thursday, June 11, 2009

EU “concern” over mounting military offensive in eastern Burma

by Mungpi
Thursday, 11 June 2009 11:59

New Delhi (Mizzima) - European Union on Thursday expressed “serious concern” over the mounting military offensive by the Burmese army and its allies against the Karen National Liberation Army, which results in large number of civilians in eastern Burma fleeing to neighboring Thailand.

The Presidency Declaration, issued on behalf of the EU on Thursday, calls on the Burmese army to ceasefire and request military operators to ensure the safety of civilians and to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law.

“The EU is strongly concerned about the humanitarian situation of the thousands of newly displaced persons in Thailand,” said the declaration, affirming that the EU is ready to “provide more assistance where possible.”

The declaration came following reports that a fresh offensive have been launched by the Burmese Army and its allies, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a Karen splinter group, against the Karen National Liberation Army, an armed wing of the Karen National Union, Burma’s longest running armed resistant group.

Sources at the Thai-Burmese border said, at least 3,500 Karen villagers have fled their homes in eastern Burma to Thailand, due the fresh military offensive launched against the KNLA by the Burmese Army since last week.

The KNU said, the fresh offensive were part of the Burmese junta’s effort to eliminate the KNU, which is one of the largest armed groups that has no ceasefire agreement with the junta.

David Takarpaw, vice-chairman of the KNU, earlier told Mizzima that the Junta is using their brother Karen in the DKBA, an armed group that broke away from the KNU, to fight against them.

While acknowledging the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Burma, the EU declaration said, “Generally, the authorities should refrain from seeking military solutions against the ethnic minorities; this only fosters instability, long-term divisions and hatred.”

The EU instead, calls on the Junta to create necessary conditions that will allow the return of all refugees and to kick-start an “inclusive and time-bound process of political dialogue leading to national reconciliation.”