Saturday, June 25, 2005

'slow genocide' revealed

It is really shocking news. The 600-page report revealing that Burma's military junta is carrying out a "slow genocide" of ethnic minorities is coming out. The report is prepared by Guy Horton, a British human rights researcher who made several secret trips into Burma in past five years for this human rights research., The Independent , and BBC have detailed news article about this.

From these articles:

Dr Martin Panter, international president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which has campaigned on the Burmese issue for years and recently reported evidence that the Burmese junta had used chemical weapons, said the children were given pencils and paper and asked to paint whatever they liked.

"I said it might help to draw painful things, but nothing else. Some drew typical flowers and harmless village scenes but two thirds produced images of these terrible experiences.

"Some had seen their mothers raped, or children killed. They played and looked like normal children but with this great burden of pain." One depicts people fleeing their burning village; another shows a half-naked woman about to be raped by soldiers; yet another has a baby dumped in a rice pounder while villagers are killed.[]
For four years, Guy Horton has travelled secretly in rural Burma, documenting the 50-year war being waged on the ethnic groups in the east. He has seen villagers forced to flee into the jungle, their homes destroyed, their animals slaughtered. He himself has experienced the brutality of the ruling regime, and he sums up its tactics in one word. Genocide. [The Independent]
Government soldiers are said to routinely use torture as a weapon, along with the rape of girls as young as five.

Mr Horton told the BBC he had video of "villages in the process of being burnt down", the mass slaughter of animals and "numerous" people being murdered.

"It shows one particular massacre of 10 people," he added.

During one four-week visit, almost every village he saw had been burned to the ground.

Villagers told him of soldiers throwing babies onto a fire during one raid. [BBC]
Often the soldiers would demand that local girls be given to them for marriage. A Sa Thon Lon soldier tried to rape a 19-year-old called Na. When she ran away, he forced her family to give her up. "Both the parents and the village headman had to tell her to marry him, a witness said. "The villagers told her the same thing. They said, 'If you don't marry him, they will kill us all.' Finally she had to give herself to the Burmese [soldier] because she loves her parents, the village headman and the villagers."

The soldier later wanted to take her away. When she refused, he burnt down her family's house. "When he had finished, he was worried that the people would say 'He is the one who burned his own father-in-law's house', so he burned down every house in the village."

Mr Horton called for international legal action against Burma. However, Rangoon has not signed the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, the new global war crimes tribunal, so its prosecutors cannot take up the case on their own.

Mr Horton proposed a back-door approach instead, based on the fact that Burma is a signatory of the 1948 Genocide Convention. This means that another country, such as Britain or the Netherlands, could bring a case against Burma in the International Court of Justice, which deals with inter-state disputes.

Its ruling would not be binding, but could force the United Nations Security Council to take up the matter. The Security Council can refer a case to the ICC. []

Links: The Independent


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