Thanks to all who signed the petition!With the help of the resettled refugee communities from 67 cities in 29 states, we were able to gather nearly 5,000 signatures urging Ambassador Mitchell to use his position as the U.S. Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma to pressure the Burmese regime to stop committing widespread and systematic human rights abuses against ethnic people.
Today, the petition was delivered to Ambassador Mitchell in his office at the U.S. Department of State by Aung Din and Myra Dahgaypaw, Executive Director and Campaign Coordinator respectively for USCB, and Gum San Maung, President of the Kachin National Organization U.S.A. This petition was signed by 8 ethnic nationalities including Chin, Arakan, Kachin, Shan, Karenni, Mon, Burman and Karen.
“It was heartbreaking to hear their first-hand stories about different kinds of human rights abuses they had to endure at the hands of the Burmese army. However, they also appreciate the opportunity they have now that they can speak out for their families, relatives, friends and their other fellow ethnic people, especially in Kachin state,” said Myra Dahgaypaw.Most of the refugees from Burma that have resettled in the U.S. come from ethnic nationality areas where Burma’s army has systematically used forced labor, forced relocation, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and more to control communities and resources for decades. Many of them have lived as an internally displaced person for years before they reached the refugees camps at the Thailand-Burma border. Many of them lost their loved ones due to civil war.
This petition raised legitimate concern that while the main focus of international diplomatic efforts has been on some limited reforms affecting central Burma, insufficient attention is being paid to developments in ethnic areas.Widespread human rights abuses still continue on regular basis at the armed conflict areas. In the absence of armed conflict, there are abuses related to forced labor, forced relocation and land confiscation.
The current ceasefires do not create peace for ethnic civilians. They do not guarantee safety for civilians. Read this report on how forced labor, torture and military activity are still happening in Karen State. Attacks in Kachin areas has been going on for over nine months, and has forced 75,000 people to flee their homes. For more details on Kachin situation, read “Untold Miseries” Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Burma’s Kachin State, a new report by Human Rights Watch.