Category Archives: Photography

Female Village Heads in Karen State Systematically Abused by Burma Army Soldiers

In a new report released by the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), female village heads from 5 districts of Karen State, eastern Burma, have testified to having suffered or witnessed a long line line of horrific abuses, including crucifixion, people being burnt alive, rape (including gang rape), many forms of torture (including beatings and “water torture”), people being buried up to their heads in earth and beaten to death, arbitrary executions, beheadings  and slave labour.

The report, entitled “Walking Amongst Sharp Knives”, includes interviews with 95 female village heads and offers a mere glimpse at the horrific subjugation and abuse of ethnic minority women inflicted by soldiers of Burma’s ruling military regime.

Photo From KWO's "Walking Amongst Sharp Knives"

The report also describes that “with men increasingly reluctant to risk their lives as chiefs,women have stepped in to assume leadership in the hope of mitigating abuses. However, testimonies of women chiefs show that, far from being exempt from the brutality of the Burma Army, they have faced ongoing systematic abuse, including gender-based violence.”

To download the report in full click here

For six decades, the 49,000 strong KWO has been working for the rights and welfare of Karen women. Click here to visit their website

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Filed under Burma in the News, Military, Photography, The Karen, The People

Pic of the Day: Karen Farm Girl

Ethnic Karen in mountain regions are mostly rice farmers, such as this young girl. They are attacked by the Burmese Army in the fall right after the rice harvest so they cannot survive for the year. The harvests are burned and the land strewn with landmines.

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Pic of the Day: Mobile Karen Medic

Young Karen health care workers work on teams of backpack medics and mobile clinics to serve villagers in remote areas.

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Filed under Internal Displacement, Medical, Photography, Pic of the Day, The Initiatives, The Karen

Pic of the Day: School Kids

School children in native dress in Central Karen State. The Karen are the most modest in dress of all Burma’s ethnic groups. Simple smocks are woven by village women on hand looms – white and red smocks being the prevalent colors. These children attend a school in a small village that has since been overrun by the Burmese Army. Their status is unknown.

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Filed under Photography, Pic of the Day, Reports, The Karen, The Lifestyles, The People

Internal Displacement Report: February 3 – 7, 2010

The first week of February saw further attacks on civilians in Karen State, Eastern Burma by the country’s ruling dictators. While over 2,000 men, women and children lost their homes, a local health clinic was burned to the ground and 11 schools abandoned due to force.

In order to destabilize communities and weaken support for local freedom fighters, the army often forcibly relocates villages, sending in mortars then heading in on foot to destroy what is left and kill any remaining villagers.

Between February 3-7, at least 46 houses and one clinic were burned to the ground in Toe Hta, while 38 homes were destroyed in Ka Di Mu Der, two areas of Kler Lwe Htoo (Nyaunglebin) District in northern Karen State. These attacks were perpetrated by Light Infantry Batallion (LIB) #362 and LIB #356 of the Burma Army.

Speaking to WIN in the days after, Saw Steve of the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) said that “the 2,000 people have fled deep into the jungle where they remain as the Burma Army are still active in the area. They are not close to any source of water and are sleeping in the wild.”

WIN recently received other reports that three Burma Army battalions have been moved into the region and are in combat with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). It is unlikely that the region will be safe for return within the week. A spokesperson for the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW), which administers the destroyed clinic, spoke to WIN of his deep concern for the displaced people’s lack of food and other materials.

“Firstly they need food, that is the number one thing and we encourage any support anyone can offer us or CIDKP in this regard. After that they need medicine, materials for shelter and then once they return they will need to start from scratch collecting utensils and pots and pans and other household things.”

The KDHW operate a mobile clinic service, which is adaptable to the constant need to flee settlements and start over.

“The mobile clinic concept means that if the villagers are forced to move location because of attack, our health workers will always move with them. In the same way, if upon return they decide that it is not safe to stay – usually due to landmine cultivation – the health workers move with them to the new site.”

These reports came shortly after a local trader was murdered on the Salween River that borders Thailand and Burma. Saw Law Ray Htoo was shot by Burma Army soldiers while traveling downstream by boat on February 5.

WIN has also received reports that the 2,000 or more IDPs displaced in similar attacks between January 17 and 19, remain in hiding in the jungle, many also in Kler Lwe Hto District.

Kim, on the border
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Filed under Internal Displacement, Medical, Photography, Refugees, Reports, The Initiatives, The People

Pic of the Day: Karen Freedom Fighters

Karen villagers are defended only by a small force of a few thousand irregulars, who face  400,000 regulars from the Burmese Army. Karen soldiers have lost both family members and  their community in their long resistance against Burmese oppression.  They are in a “last stand” situation as Burmese armed forces try to surround them and finish them off in Northern Karen State.

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Where Once Was Only Darkness…

In a small corner of a border refugee camp sits the Karen Handicap Welfare Association’s (KHWA) “Care Villa”. The on-going war in Eastern Burma produces many casualties, and currently 19 ethnic Karen receive care here, healing the injuries resulting from landmines placed by the Burmese Army in their ethnic minority villages and farmlands. We see innocent villagers, unfairly punished for trying to feed their families. Former soldiers wounded while fighting for their freedom against an oppressive military junta still in power.  And even a small boy of 15, blinded while collecting wood for a fire.

Che Lee (34), a rice farmer, lost his sight and both hands to a landmine in 1997. He lives a simple life that starts early in the morning with prayer. It is his brothers and sisters at the center who make it possible for him to carry out his day. From washing himself and changing his clothes to eating a meal, Che Lee relies on the care given by the center’s assistants and by those, who like him, have had their lives shattered by landmine injuries.

Che Lee spends his days listening to music, singing in the Care Villa choir, and visiting friends throughout the camp with the help of the children leading the way. While Che Lee speaks of his sadness for losing his sight, he finds strength through the members of the center who bring him joy.

“We live together and we eat together, like a family – we are a family. For 5 years I lived at my friends’ house and life was very lonely, but since I have moved to the Care Villa,  my family has grown and we all work together.”

Delivering a “CARE Package” to an much-deserving resident of the “Villa”

WIN Program Coordinator Matt, on the border

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Filed under Landmine Victims, Medical, Photography, The Initiatives