This report State of Terror clearly documents the range of human rights abuses that continue to be perpetrated across Karen State as part of the SPDC’s sustained campaign of terror. The report focuses in particular on the abuses experienced by women and girls and draws on over 4000 documented cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by the SPDC.
These case studies provide shocking evidence of the entrenched and widespread abuses perpetrated against the civilian population of Karen State by the Burmese Military Regime. Many of the recent accounts of human rights violations which occurred in late 2005 and 2006 provide irrefutable evidence that the SPDC’s attacks during this period have increased and have deliberately targeted the civilian population. The recent dramatic increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) as well as in those crossing the border in search of asylum, bears further testimony to the escalation of attacks on the civilian women, men and children of Karen State.
The report builds on the findings contained in Shattering Silences, published by the Karen Women’s Organisation in April 2004. That report detailed the alarmingly high number of women and girls who have been raped by the military during the years of the SPDC’s occupation of Karen State.
This new report documents the range of other human rights abuses experienced by Karen women and girls, in particular those of forced labour and forced portering. The report locates these atrocities within a human rights framework, to show the direct link of accountability the SPDC bears for the violations committed in these cases. It also demonstrates the multiplicity of human rights violations occurring, as forced labour is often committed in conjunction with other human rights violations such as rape, beating, mutilation, torture, murder, denial of rights to food, water and shelter, and denial of the right to legal redress. These human rights abuses occur as part of a strategy designed to terrorise and subjugate the Karen people, to completely destroy their culture and communities.
This report demonstrates very clearly that it is the women who bear the greatest burden of these systematic attacks, as they are doubly oppressed both on the grounds of their ethnicity and their gender.
Attacks have continued in spite of the informal ceasefire agreement reached with the SPDC in January 2004. It is clear that rather than honouring the agreement, the SPDC have proceeded with systematic reinforcement of their military infrastructure across Karen State, bringing in more troops, increasing their stocks of food and ammunition and building army camps across the state. From this position of increased strength the SPDC have conducted ongoing attacks on villages across Karen State since September 2005.
As this report goes to press over one year later, it is clear that rather than abating, the intensity of these attacks has only increased. Karen women and children continue to be killed and raped by SPDC soldiers, are subjected to forced labour, including portering, and are displaced from their homes. In the first half of 2006 alone KWO received reports of almost 5,000 villagers being taken as forced labourers, with over five times that many being forcibly relocated from their villages as their farms, homes and rice paddies were burned. As a consequence, increasing numbers of refugees are fleeing across the border into Thailand and many, many more are internally displaced.
The world now knows the full extent of human rights violations being committed by the SPDC, particularly against women and children from the ethnic groups across Burma. The situation is past critical. The international community must take immediate action to stop these most grave atrocities.