Burma and the Karens source : The Times
FROM MR CHRISTOPHER J. PUTLAND
Sir, It was hardly surprising that the Ambassador of Burma (letter, November 22; see also letter, November 16) should seek to demonstrate that the Burmese regime has a benevolent attitude towards its minorities and dissenters.
This situation is far from the truth, which is why James Mawdsley was moved by the plight of refugees he met in New Zealand, and sought to visit Burma and protest against the evil regime, for which he received his 17-year prison sentence.
The United Nations International Labour Organisation has charged the junta with crimes against humanity, for the forced labour on government projects of around two million men, women and children. The junta has displaced one and a half million people from their homes, both for government projects and as part of an ethnic cleansing programme.
Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly detailed a litany of abuses including murder, torture and rape, and massive relocations of ethnic groups, especially near the country’s borders.
Thirty-nine elected candidates from the 1990 elections are in jail in Burma and many of Burma’s 1,500 political prisoners have been tortured and murdered by the junta. It seems hardly surprising that the displaced people should prefer not to listen to the ambassador’s advice and return to their benevolent homeland.
CHRISTOPHER J. PUTLAND,
22 Grove Way, Esher,
Surrey KT10 8HL.