Season of Fear – IDPs in Burma

Linked with Tecla Wanjala – Kenja, with The Japan International Cooperation Agency JICA, with PEACENET-Trust KENYA, and with The Coalition for Peace in Africa COPA.

Call for International Action (by WITNESS.org), Partner: Peace Way Foundation (Burma Issues, BI).

“In much of Asia a dry season could mean a break from monsoon rains and intermittent floods but for the Karen ethnic community, settled along Burma’s eastern borders, it means a season of death, destruction and flight.” (Marwaan Macan-Markar, Inter Press Service, Bangkok)

Season of Fear was filmed in October/November 2005 in communities of internally displaced people in northern Karen State, Burma who had fled the Burma military offensive that swept through the area.

Troops burned villages and food stores, and tortured and killed villagers. This offensive has only escalated since the video was filmed, with up to 20,000 soldiers sweeping across swathes of eastern Burma.

Between February and end of November 2006 over 27,000 people have been freshly displaced from their homes and 5000 have fled to refugee camps to Thailand, following a series of offensives by the Burma military. Week by week the numbers grow, and there is an urgent need for international action by the UN Security Council to address the situation.

Burma has the worst crisis of internal displacement in Asia. There are already over 500,000 other people who were already internally displaced in eastern Burma, on the run from the brutal military of Burmese leader Than Shwe, or living in forced relocation sites. In the past decade over 3000 villages have been destroyed or relocated in eastern Burma.

These ethnic minority civilians have suffered through thirty years of a brutal military campaign to assert absolute control over ethnic minority border areas, and to systematically destroy the capacity of rural civilians to live independently. Attacks on these rural civilians continue on a daily basis.

The video was filmed, produced and edited by ethnic minority documentors from our partner organization, Burma Issues, a grassroots human rights group with whom WITNESS has worked for a number of years. These documentors, many of whom are refugees or were once IDPs in Burma themselves, travel back inside Burma to document human rights abuses and community voices in the conflict zones of Burma.

This video was produced by Burma Issues in association with WITNESS to show the dire situation faced by internally displaced people (IDP) living inside Burma and to call for UN Security Council action, humanitarian aid to IDPs, and a tougher stance on the SPDC regime in Burma from countries in the region.

Watch and download the full length version at the WITNESS Channel on Stage6 (DivX plug-in required).

Also watch: The previous video from Burma Issues, “Always on the Run.” In the video three internally displaced people (IDPs) talk about their hopes and fears for themselves and their children and the impact that being forced to flee for their lives has on their ability to nurture and care for their families. A week after the footage was filmed the offensive reached this area and these IDPs were forced to flee, again.

You can take action:

Contact the office of the UN-Secretary General urging him to ask the Security Council to take further action on the situation in eastern Burma. Click here to take action now!

For more information on the case for Security Council action on Burma and to learn about ways to get active, visit the US Campaign for Burma’s website.

To learn about “Threat to the Peace: A Call for UN Security Council to Act in Burma,” a report commissioned by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, visit ALTSEAN-Burma’s website.

For campaigns active in other countries please visit the Links Page.

Thanks for footage loaned by Free Burma Rangers, Images Asia, Karen Teachers Working Group. (By WITNESS.org). Partner: Peace Way Foundation (Burma Issues, BI).

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