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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 31, 2002
11:35 PM
CONTACT:  Free Burma Coalition
Dan Beeton (202) 547-5985
Rare, Graphic Photos Reveal Grisly Massacre By Burma's Regime
U.S. Congressman: Photos Show “Campaign of Terror by Burma's Military Regime Against Its Own People
 
WASHINGTON - July 31 - A new and shocking set of photographs have revealed fresh atrocities by Burma’s pariah military regime, including the massacre of 12 civilians on April 26, 2002. The photos were obtained by the Free Burma Rangers, an organization that secretly provides bringing medical supplies, food, education, toys, and spiritual encouragement to refugees and internally displaced persons deep inside Burma. They provide a rare visual glimpse into intensifying human rights abuses in Burma’s Karen state that the military regime has worked to conceal from international scrutiny. The photos can be viewed attached to this release and at www.freeburmacoalition.org

Republican United States Congressman Joseph Pitts, a member of the International Relations Committee, said in a statement in the Congress on Friday that the photos “provide incontrovertible evidence of the State Peace and Development Council's (SPDC) horrifying human rights abuses and crimes against humanity as they continue their attempt to subjugate the entire country through whatever means they see necessary.”

The disturbing photographs show the aftermath of a massacre of 12 villagers who were attempting to flee to Thailand after their villages were forcibly relocated by Burma’s military regime. 30-40 villagers had stopped to sleep for the night at two huts in the forest when the Burmese military came upon them, lined up in front of the hut, and opened fire. Ten were killed immediately including children aged 2, 5, 7, and 14. Additionally, a pregnant woman and her unborn child died two days later. The photos show both the ten bodies of the victims, including the children, and the dead pregnant woman. They also show some of the survivors of the massacre, including a six year old boy who was shot in the arm.

Millions of Burmese people have been forced to leave their homes by the military regime; relatively few escape to refugee camps in Thailand. The vast majority of the villagers eke out a living in the jungle, always on the run from the regime. According to the U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights in Burma released on March 4, 2002, “Repressive government policies and the military's brutal treatment of members of ethnic insurgencies has produced hundreds of thousands of refugees.” The report goes on to say that “NGO's estimate that there could be as many as one million persons whom the SPDC has moved forcibly from their villages and … NGO's also estimate that an additional 1 million IDP's also might exist in various other locations throughout the country.”

A spokesman for the Free Burma Rangers said, “This is more than a crisis—this is carnage. When will the world wake up?”

The massacre took place just 10 days before the release from house arrest of Burma’s 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Her release has buoyed world hopes of an end to repression in Burma, but the new photos provide evidence that abuses by the regime continue unabated in areas outside the capital city of Rangoon. Burma’s regime was also recently censured over reports of mass rapes in the Shan state.

Said Congressman Pitts, “While the military regime woos diplomats, business guests, and others in downtown Rangoon, Burma's people are fleeing in fear of intensifying and acute repression.”

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