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    » 02/15/2008, 00.00

    THAILAND - MYANMAR

    Leader of Burma’s biggest rebel group killed



    Mahn Sha, head of the National Karen Union, was shot to death last night at his home in Thailand. Suspicions on the authors of the attack: hit men for the junta or members of the separatist Karen Buddhists group. The leader had recently warned of an increase in violence in the wake of the announcement of a May referendum in Burma.

    Mae Sot (AsiaNews) – Burmese media carried no news of last night’s killing of the leader of the Karen National Union (KNU), the biggest ethnic group to battle the military regime, at his home in Mae Sot, in Thailand. “Newspapers and TV have not reported the event – Yangon sources tell Asia News– people only found out through reports on the opposition radio station which is broadcast from abroad”.

    KNU secretary general, Mahn Sha, was shot last night by two men who arrived at his house in a pick up.  So far there have been no claims of responsibility for the assassination and suspicions abound on whom was behind the order.  Most point to hit men hired by the military junta, while others have not ruled out the possibility that is a settling of scores within the group itself.  This is the hypothesis that Thai police are following in their investigations.  “From initial inquiries - reports colonel Pasawat, Mahn Sha – it has emerged that the hit men were themselves Karen, and after having spoken to eyewitnesses we believe that this is an internal issue within the Karen National Union.  Despite this we will pursue our investigations”.  The majority of the movements past leaders live in political exile in Thailand.

    Even Mahn Shan’s son, Hse Hse, also a member of the rebel movement has pointed to the secessionist movement of Karen Buddhists who signed a cease-fire with the government in the mid ‘90’s.  “It bears the hall marks of the Dkba and Burmese soldiers”, said Hse Hse in reference to the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army.

    Mahn Sha, 64, took commando f the organisation in 2000, substituting Bo Mya, who was ill at the time and then died 2006. In a recent interview he commented on the regime’s announcement of a Constitutional referendum in May forecasting an increase in violence.  “Everyone is terrorised by the possibility that the military may have spread a list of names to be eliminated in Thailand”, he had warned.

    Karen live in the eastern area of former Burma, on the border with Thailand, and have been fighting for over 60 years to for self determination and recognition of their identity. According to Thailand Burma Border Consortium, in 2007 alone over 76 thousand Karen were forced to flee their homes, while at least 167 villages were destroyed.

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    See also

    09/11/2010 MYANMAR-THAILAND
    Twenty thousand Burmese refugees flee fighting on Thai border
    Karen rebels are fighting the army, to express dissatisfaction with sham elections. The Thai army has prepared refugee camps, but promises repatriation within three months. According to military sources, the repatriation began today, although renewed fighting is feared.

    10/04/2006 MYANMAR
    More than 700 ethnic Karen forced out of their villages
    Myanmar's army destroys predominantly Christian Karen villages. Those who could reach Ko Kay village; many want to go to refugee camps in Thailand.

    10/11/2010 MYANMAR-THAILAND
    20 thousand Burmese who fled to Thailand back in Myanmar
    The situation on the border between the two countries still chaotic. According to Bangkok all the twenty thousand who fled the clashes have returned , but local sources say that there are still many refugees in the area. The testimony of a doctor.

    14/04/2011 THAILAND – MYANMAR
    Bangkok wants to close Burmese refugee camps as it discusses the issue with Myanmar
    Nine camps along the Thai-Burmese border shelter 140,000 people from various ethnic groups, living in harsh conditions. Many have taken part in armed conflict with the Myanmar government over the years. The United Nations says repatriations should be “absolutely” voluntary.

    02/10/2008 MYANMAR - CHINA
    Myanmar, Kachin rebels oppose dams on Chinese border
    The pro-independence group denounces the population's lack of involvementin the construction of new hydroelectric plants. They have blocked the work, but have withdrawn their militias after the payment of a "tax". Environmentalists fear possible damage to the ecosystem.



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