Union Aid Abroad–APHEDA stands in solidarity with the Karen people as reports emerge of renewed armed attacks and displacement.
Since December 2020, villagers in northern Karen State have staged mass peaceful protests against the occupation of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) and increased human rights violations.
These reported attacks by the Tatmadaw against Karen communities have displaced over 3,700 civilians and killed one village chief.
These attacks violate Article 5 of the National Ceasefire Agreement that was signed in 2015. Article 5 calls on signatories to stop aggressive troop movements and the reinforcement of military bases. The Tatmadaw cites government plans for road building and development as the reason for the increased militarisation of these areas.
For the Karen, these roads are unwanted and the expansion of military presence has resulted in an increase in indiscriminate firing and use of artillery shelling as well as the use of spy-drones.
On 7 January 2021, APHEDA partner organisation, the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), issued a statement supporting civilians and protesters who are speaking out for justice and peace. KWO announced they would stand with villagers who are calling on the Tatmadaw to withdraw its troops, for the fighting to end and for road construction projects to stop. In addition, they have raised concerns over the Tatmadaw putting Karen civilians at further risk with regards to COVID-19:
“As we all work together worldwide to control the COVID-19 pandemic… Karen people need to be able to seek safety in their homes. Instead they are forced to flee violence by the military making them ever more vulnerable to the virus.”
A Statement issued on 18 January 2021 by the Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN) calls for urgent international action in response to the Tatmadaw artillery attacks in northern Karen State.
“These attacks, indiscriminately targeting civilians, constitute war crimes… the obstruction of humanitarian aid to those displaced is also a violation of international humanitarian law.”
Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA:
- Calls on the Australian Government to exercise its international obligation to demand Myanmar to act within international human rights standards and to end the abuse;
- Reaffirms its longstanding support of the Karen who have suffered conflict and displacement for decades;
- Condemns the ongoing human rights violations against ethnic minority groups in Myanmar;
- Stands in solidarity with our partner organisations and Karen civilians who are calling for peace and justice;
- Urges the international community and the United Nations to call on the Myanmar government and military to end the human rights violations against all ethnic minorities.