In recent months the Burma Army has increased its attacks on ethnic people. The Burma Army has been accused of rape, forced labor and firing artillery shells indiscriminately into villages. The ethnic protests against the government’s military offensives have spread to neighboring countries.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, more than 300 people of ethnic nationalities from Burma staged a protest in front of the Burma embassy in early October demanding the government stop its military offensives in ethnic areas, to release all political prisoners and to stop human right violations. The ethnic nationalities represented at the protest included people from the Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Chin, Mon, Shan, Arakan who held a peaceful demonstration in front of the Burmese embassy.
According to Mahn Sein Than, chairman of the Malaysia Karen Organization and organizer of the protest the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party launched military offensives in Kachin, Shan, Karen and other ethnic areas, committing abuses on women and children and using civilian as human minesweeper, human shields and porters.
Mahn Sein Than spoke to Karen News and said.
“The ruling USDP government have been oppressing ethnic nationalities and using many forms of abuse, including handing out long jail sentences to political opponents and committing crimes against humanity on local ethnic people. If the abuses don’t cease, we will continue to call for the government to stop these human right violations.”
The protesters demanded the government four main concerns – 1) stop the military offensive in ethnic areas, 2) hold peace talks with representatives of the United Nationalities Federal Council, 3) release all political prisoners and 4) completely stop work on the Irrawady Myitsone Dam project and hydropower projects planned for the Salween River.
Protest organizers said that they have been given permission by the Malaysia authorities for their peaceful demonstration.
The organizers said that a letter including their four demands was sent to the chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations, the United Nation Secretary General – Ban Ki Moon, to Burma’s President U Thein Sein and to many international Non-Governmental Organizations.
This is the third time Burmese people in Malaysia have held demonstrations, other times were during the Monks and civilian revolution in 2007 and after the Burma regime’s disastrous handling of Cyclone Nargis.