Karenni: Researcher Documents Abuses in Burma
Below is an extract from an article written by Brian Adeba and published by Embassy, a Canadian Weekly Foreign-Policy oriented magazine
Guy Horton says the killings in east
Everything that allows people to live is destroyed–including livestock and crops. Villages have been razed; their inhabitants forced to relocate at gunpoint. Those who resist are shot dead. Between 1996 and 2005, it is believed an estimated 2,800 villages have been destroyed, their inhabitants herded into government-built camps.
That is the horror that ethnic minorities–the Karen, Shun and Karenni–go through in eastern Burma, as the military junta that rules the country unleashes a relentless campaign of terror in the name of fighting a rebel insurgency.
Guy Horton, a British human rights researcher who has documented human rights abuses in
"We think it is an attempted form of genocide," says Mr. Horton in an interview last week. "It's about similar to the Kurdish villages destroyed by Saddam."
Mr. Horton also thinks the current rulers of
"It's not the Burman or Burmese people as a whole, it's the military junta who is responsible for that," he says.
Many reports commissioned by human rights watchdogs, including the United Nations, have blamed the junta for gross human rights abuses, a charge the government has repeatedly denied. Since 2003, the junta has refused to grant permission to the UN special rapporteur on human rights in
Brian John, national coordinator for
"But that is not to say large-scale repression is not happening," he says.
Mr. John says there's also widespread discrimination against minorities, based on religious and ethnic grounds.
Mr. Horton started documenting human rights abuses in
"They told me they had killed people and could no longer go on killing because their conscience wouldn't allow it anymore."
The soldiers also told him stories about the wanton destruction of villages inhabited by ethnic Karens. That's when Mr. Horton decided to slip into
Mr. Horton says it's time to impose sanctions on the regime in
"I came to ask them to explore ways which the perpetrators can be punished using international justice. ”The response was sympathetic but there was no commitment to action," he says.