Bitter Wounds and Lost Dreams

Human Rights Under Assault in Karen State, Burma

Even as Burma’s central government institutes political reforms, the Burmese army continues to routinely violate the human rights of ethnic minorities in Karen State, PHR reports, citing findings from a field survey conducted in early 2012.

PHR’s report – Bitter Wounds and Lost Dreams: Human Rights Under Assault in Karen State, Burma – provides a snapshot of ongoing abuses against Karen people and communities in the country’s mountainous eastern region bordering Thailand, where the army has been battling insurgent groups for decades.

Nearly one-third of the families surveyed reported having experienced human rights violations, including being forcibly evicted from their homes, being forced to work for the army, and being physically attacked — sometimes even tortured or raped. The research showed a much stronger incidence of human rights violations in territory controlled by the Burmese army than in areas where insurgent groups were actively striving for control.

The PHR survey indicated that people who lived near a mine, pipeline, hydroelectric dam, or other economic development project promoted by the Burmese government were significantly more likely to have experienced a human rights violation. People living near such projects were almost eight times more likely to be forced to work for the army and over six times more likely to be uprooted or have restrictions placed on their travel.

PHR’s research team trained 22 surveyors from five partner organizations who surveyed 665 households in 88 villages in Karen State in January 2012. The survey, conducted in two local languages, consisted of 93 questions covering human rights abuses, health indicators, food availability, and access to health care between January 2011 and January 2012.

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