Alton reveals new evidence of genocide in Burma

 The cross-bench peer, Lord Alton of Liverpool, returned from the Thai-Burma border last weekend with graphic evidence of the continuing genocide against Burma's ethnic minorities. The evidence includes a photo of an eight-year-old girl who had been fired upon by the Burmese military on 30th October 2002. During this attack her uncle was killed and four members of her family wounded. The bullet is still inside her body. A further photo is of a Karen village that has been burnt to the ground as part of the junta's 'four cuts' policy to destabilise civilian life for the ethnic minorities. Finally, another shot shows a medical team removing land mine shrapnel from a village girl on 8th January 2003. Lord Alton travelled with American Congressman, Joseph Pitts, on behalf of Jubilee Campaign to the refugee camps in Thailand, where many of the 130,000 Karen people have fled to escape Burma's genocide. An estimated 30,000 Karen, Karenni and Shan have been killed as a direct or indirect result of military action. March 9 has been dedicated as the global day of prayer for Burma when voices will be raised in the earnest prayer that 53 years of conflict will finally come to an end. Commenting after his trip, David Alton said: "Along with prayer, we need to redouble the political pressure on western governments and on the Burmese military junta. There are also a host of initiatives that individuals and church groups can take to help those who are suffering. The evidence was truly shocking of the latest violations of human rights. Although the British Government still refuses to categorise these crimes as genocide there is no doubt in my mind that no other word adequately to describes the realities in Burma's Karen State." The last time Lord Alton visited this region, about four years ago, he illegally crossed the border and entered the Karen State. He heard and saw evidence of the internally displaced people - estimated now at 600,000; of the scorched earth policy that has depopulated and destroyed countless villages; and of brutality unequalled anywhere in the world. The story of one small child at a refugee camp near Mae Sot illustrates how the brutality and violence of this perfidious regime continues. Saw Naing Gae is just eight years old. He saw the Burmese military shoot dead his mother and his father. He was then trafficked across the border and sold to a Thai family. Desperately unhappy he managed to escape and made his way to the camp, where he is staying with a group of thirty other orphans. Every trace of joy and innocence had been stamped out of him; and all of this by the age of 8. At Htee Tha Blu village, further violations of human rights were carried out by Light Infantry Battalions 301 and 78. They beat and tortured villagers, stole their belongings and burnt down their church and their homes. At Mae Sot Lord Alton took evidence from the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People. They provided a 100-page report of carefully documented examples of human rights violations committed by Burmese military over the past twelve months alone. It is a carefully chronicled account of looting, burning, torture, rape and murder. The SPDC routinely plant landmines indiscriminately and in areas where landmines have been laid by their opponents the SPDC use people as human landmine sweepers. Further evidence came from the victims - people whose limbs have been severed from their bodies, whose skin has been peppered with shrapnel, and others who have been left blind. The delegation also talked to the families of people whose loved ones - men and women - had been seized and used as porters and construction workers, and who have never returned. For more information and campaign material contact: Jubilee Campaign at: info@jubileecampaign.co.uk or telephone Jubilee at St John's Seminary, Wonersh on 01483 894 787 Support Jubilee Action's work sending practical support for Internally Displace People. Cheques should be made out to Jubilee Action and sent to St John's Seminary, Wonersh, nr Guildford, Surrey GU5 0QX.