Burma: Crisis in Shan State

Out of site in the ethnic states of Burma, where journalists and diplomats are banned from visiting, the dictatorship has stepped up attacks against ethnic minorities. Last month we received reports from local organisationsin Shan State, Eastern Burma, telling us how 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.
With its fake election and release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the dictatorship is trying to fool the world into believing it has changed. But its actions speak louder than words.
The new attacks started when the dictatorship broke a ceasefire agreement with an armed ethnic political party, the Shan State Army ­ North. They had refused to join the Burmese Army, and so they were attacked. And as usual, the Burmese Army targeted civilians, raping, looting and killing.
What is happening in Burma is similar to what has happened in Libya and Syria ­ a brutal regime targeting civilians. But the response could not be more different. On Libya there is international action, on Syria there is international condemnation, but on Shan State, Burma, there is silence.
Help us break the silence, action is needed now!
Please write to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP, calling on the British government to act.
Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Here is a draft letter for you to print and send to the Foreign Secretary:
Your Name
Your Address
The Date
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 escalatingattacks against civilians in other ethnic states since the elections inBurma last November, you have been silent, and no practical action has beentaken.
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
Thank you for your support.

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