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Burma Attacks Ethnic Group

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the latest wave of attacks carried out by Burma’s repressive military regime against civilians and ethnic minorities. The attacks are resulting in ever increasing numbers of displaced Burmese, both within Burma and across the border, highlighting again the threat that the regime’s actions pose to the region.

According to the latest U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights, conditions in Burma have deteriorated. Along with a crackdown on ethnic minorities, human rights abuses committed by the junta include politically motivated arrests and detentions, torture, rape, forced labor, extrajudicial killings, and the suppression of freedom of speech and assembly.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that democracies "cannot turn a blind eye to those who still live under oppression":

"A country that was once the jewel of Southeast Asia is now out of step with the entire modern experience of its region. A once thriving economy has collapsed. Universities that once attracted the best Asian minds are locked shut."

Human Rights Watch, an independent monitoring group, is asking the United Nations to respond to the Burmese attacks on ethnic Karen civilians. In a written statement, Human Rights Watch says, "In some cases, villagers have reportedly been ordered by battalion commanders to leave their homes or face summary execution. Fleeing villagers have reported witnessing soldiers commit extrajudicial killings and torture."

According to Human Rights Watch, some ten-thousand villagers living in eastern Burma have been driven from their homes since November 2005. Those seeking sanctuary in neighboring Thailand must cross through minefields planted by the Burmese army. "The Burmese regime," says Secretary Rice, "is now literally retreating into the depths of the country, closing its people off from the world and robbing them of their future."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.