Severe violation of human rights in Burma - At least 66,000 are fleeing from attacks 18,500 farmers are threatened with forced resettlement

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Göttingen, 27. Oktober 2008 - At least 66,000 members of ethnic minorities have fled their villages in the east of Burma since June 2007 in the face of severe violations of human rights. This figure was published this week by a consortium of human rights organisations working in the border area between Thailand and Burma. 142 villages of minorities have been destroyed since June 2007 or the villagers have been forcibly moved from their homes. "A further 18,570 members of the peoples of the Karen, Kachin and Kayan are threatened by eviction in coming months because Chinese investors are building new dams", said the Asia consultant of the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV), Ulrich Delius in Göttingen. "Systematic eviction, forced labour, rape, torture politically motivated murder and the theft of land by government troops and allied militia have reached a point where one can only speak of crimes against humanity", said Delius.

About 451,000 Karen, Kachin, Shan, Mon and members of other minorities have been struggling for survival day by day as displaced persons in the rural areas of eastern Burma. The situation is particularly difficult for 101,000 people who have fled their villages in the face of attacks and military offensives and who are hiding in the forests and inaccessible mountainous regions. Another 126,000 members of minorities have been forcibly moved by the army to facilitate the fight against armed resistance groups or the construction of dams and other large development projects.

China plans the construction of 60 dams in Burma. In the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy River in the state of Kachin the Myitsone Dam has been under construction since May 2007. The project, costing 500 million US dollars, is to supply China with energy. It is the first of nine dams planned in the state of Kachin. This huge project means the evacuation of about 10,000 Kachin from 47 villages.

Another 5,000 Karen in 20 settlements on the Salween River are threatened with resettlement when the Hat Gyi Dam is completed in the year 2010. In the southern part of the state of Shan the 12 villages of 3,570 Kayanare to be flooded when in December 2009 the Upper Paunglaung Dam is completed. "China's thirst for energy is not only destroying in Burma, a country with many nationalities, cultures which go back for centuries, but is also stirring up a vicious circle of violence and exhausting the natural resources of the country", said Delius.