Burma, The Maldives and India (Dalits) update
April 23, 2006

BURMA

1. Bodies found in latest attacks on Karen

On April 19, a relief team from the Free Burma Rangers found the bodies of at least three victims of the Burma Army’s latest attacks on the Karen in Mon Township, western Karen State. The killings occurred on March 27. In an extract from the Free Burma Rangers’ report, the team describes what had happened: “The people had fled the attacking Burma Army who were sweeping the entire area. The villagers had been hiding in the gully. Thinking that it would be safer to climb higher, they had begun to leave the gully and climb to the top of the ridge. They did not know the Burma Army was waiting for them. Saw Maw Keh was carrying his mother up the steep slope and he was in the lead of the group. Behind him was his family including his 9 year-old daughter, Naw Eh Ywa Paw .... From where the Burma Army was waiting there is a clearing … that is about 40 yards wide and 15 yards deep …. The Burma soldiers were waiting at the top of the ridge …. Saw Maw Reh carried his mother up the ridge out of the gully and into the clearing. The Burma Army soldiers waited until Saw Maw Keh and his mother were in the cleared area, about 10-15 yards away from their position behind the logs, and then opened fire. The shock of having a line of troops open fire at point blank range must have been tremendous. Saw Maw Keh dropped his mother … She cried out to him and as he turned to help her they were both shot dead. His daughter, 9-year old Naw Eh Ywa Paw, was shot through the back as she ran with the rest of the people.” 

One of the survivors said: “The Burma Army waited in a prepared position to kill villagers. They waited until they were only 10 yards away and opened fire on a man carrying his mother, as well as the families and children behind him. What kind of people, what kind of system, can do this? A depraved one.”

Another observer summed up the situation: “The Burma Army soldiers shot at the families who were slowly climbing up toward them. It was when we saw the place where the bodies lay that the reality of what took place finally became clear. This was not a case of startled soldiers shooting wildly at people by mistake. This was not a case of soldiers shooting at a large group of people from hundreds of yards away. Burma Army soldiers shot at a father, carrying his sick grandmother, and walking with his 9-year old daughter, from point blank range. And they continued to fire at the other people as they ran away … Later that day, we were led to a third body in a different area. This man was found dead on the side of a trail. He was not part of the group described above and had died more recently. He had been tortured with one of his eyes pulled out and his nose cut off. No one knows who he is. He may be one of the men captured and missing from another village in a different valley. We are trying to find out. This is a tragic situation and is tragic not only for the people involved here but for all of Burma.”

See www.freeburmarangers.org for more details

THE MALDIVES

1. Journalist sentenced to life imprisonment

Abdullah Saaed, a journalist with the pro-democracy newspaper Minivan, has been sentenced to life imprisonment, according to Reporters Without Borders. Saeed was arrested for refusing to complete a urine test, and sentenced on April 19. He was accused on trumped up charges of drugs possession, but it is widely believed the drugs were planted by the police. Another Minivan journalist, subeditor Nazim Sattar, faces six months imprisonment or house arrest on charges of “disobedience to order” over an allegedly “illicit” article published last year. He was charged on April 19. Other Minivan journalists have also been targeted, including Mohamed Yushau, arrested on April 9. Minivan photojournalist Jennifer Latheef is under house arrest.

For further information see www.rsf.org

INDIA (DALITS)

1. Dalit man attacked, hands and left leg cut off

A Dalit man, Bant Singh, was attacked on January 5, after his involvement in Dalit freedom action. He was chased for some miles before his attackers, high caste Hindus, beat him with iron rods, breaking his hands and legs. Both hands and his left leg were subsequently amputated in hospital. His wife was also attacked and his half paralysed as a result. A team from the All India Christian Council and the Dalit Freedom Network traveled to Mansa to investigate the incident. For further details see www.madhuchandra.blogspot.com