Burma’s Forgotten Minorities

2 October 2017

HART is offering ways you can support ethnic minorities in Burma. Suggest a written question for parliament, sign a petition or donate to one of our trusted partners working directly with Shan and Karen ethnic groups.  

Read an update from 23/10/17 here.

Recent Developments

Within the international community, and especially in the UK, the status of Burma’s ethnic minorities is rarely in the front of people’s minds. This has drastically changed recently. The news of 500,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing ‘ethnic cleansing’ has made major headlines around the world, exposing the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw)’s complete contempt for basic human rights to widespread criticism.

What is less encouraging is that international attention on Burma has not spread to its other ethnic minorities. Their suffering and challenges at the hands of the Tatmadaw go unreported and not commented upon by governments. For instance, attention has completely overlooked the recent cutting of aid to 9,000 Shan and Karen refugees along the Thai-Burmese border. Refugees of the decades-long conflicts in Burma’s eastern states, they are having their aid completely cut by The Border Consortium (TBC) by the end of September, and are effectively being forced to return to their lands at great risk of persecution by the Burmese Army.

A map of the states of Burma (Wikipedia)

A brief history 

The recent history of Shan and Karen (Kayin) states is a tragic story of abuse and suffering. Many of the at least 120,000 refugees along the Thai-Burmese border have been in the camps for as long as 20 years. Fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Shan State Army over the destiny of Shan state displaced many over the decades. They fled forced displacement in Karen in 1999 and a scorched earth campaign in Shan in 1996, which displaced 300,000 and killed at least 600 civilians. A 2002 report from HART’s local partner, Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), highlighted the particularly horrific treatment of 625 sexually abused Shan women by the Tatmadaw: 61% were gang raped, 25% were killed.

The situation today remains unsafe. There are more Tatmadaw troops than ever before, and their villages have been occupied by the conflicting parties. As recently as July, 8 battalions of the Tatmadaw reportedly inflicted a collective punishment on a southern Shan village, torturing and killing civilians, in response to a clash it had suffered with a local armed group.


How you can get involved

Draft a Question for the House of Lords:

HART’s Founder Baroness Cox is a member of the House of Lords which means she is able to send written questions to the government. If you would like to know exactly what the government have to say about what they are doing to support the Shan and Karen people, suggest a question using this form. Written questions are useful for gathering information which can then be used to back up campaigns and appeals.

Sign Burma Campaign UK’s Petition

Burma Campaign UK are calling for the Department for International Development (DFID) to step in and provide emergency aid for the 9000 people affected by recent cuts by The Border Consortium. Sign the petition.

Read statements from Shan Human Rights Foundation and Karen Women Organisation who are appealing for aid for the refugee camps affected.

Father and daugther, Burma
Father and daughter in displacement camp in Shan State.

Donate to HART’s Partners:

Our partners SWAN and Doh Say work with people from the Shan, Karenni (Kayah) and Karen States, providing much needed healthcare and support for people suffering at the hands of the Burmese Military.

Minimal healthcare is accessible to ethnic minorities. SWAN train healthcare workers in reproductive care to reduce maternal, infant and child mortality rates in Shan State. The healthcare workers are also able to give basic healthcare and raise awareness amongst local and displaced women on issues such as HIV/Aids, nutrition and hygiene.

In Karenni State, HART supports the courageous work of cross-border mobile medical teams led by our partner Doh Say. Whilst his team are in Karenni State, many people cross the border from Karen state to be treated. Doh Say’s team risk their lives to take life-saving medical care across the border from Thailand into Burma to civilians living in displacement camps and remote villages.

Please consider making a donation to support these life-saving projects. Donate using the reference ‘BURMA17’ . All the money raised will be restricted for either SWAN or Doh Say to support the Shan, Karen and Karenni ethnic groups at this crucial time.

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