Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org. Please see www.dictatorwatch.org for the stories and photography described below.


27 April 2003

Dictator Watch has posted three short stories, with associated photography, about the suffering inflicted by the SPDC upon the Karen:

1. What happened to my world: The struggles of an IDP father.
2. Burma at Ground Zero: The biggest victims are the “smallest” victims.
3. “When the Burmese Army moves to the left, we move to the right.”

This makes fifteen photo essays regarding the SPDC’s crimes that we have published to-date (not to mention numerous other reports). Through this effort we have added our voice to the many other organizations and news agencies that oppose and document the atrocities of the Burmese dictators. No one can now doubt that credible and specific evidence of such atrocities exists, including evidence suitable for submission to a war crimes tribunal. All that remains is for the political powers that be and which could make a difference, including the United Nations, the US, EU, Japan, Australia, India and Thailand, to act rather than talk. (We have no faith whatsoever in China, and to be truthful very little in Thailand, under PM Thaksin.) We demand that these governments take steps sufficient to remove the dictators from power, to free the people of Burma, and to bring the war criminals to justice.

Also, we would like to announce that our forum is open to any individual or group who has additional documentation of SPDC crimes, particularly photographic. If you are able to obtain such documentation, please contact us.

Lastly, we are disturbed to report that one of our contributors was attacked in Mae Sot at approximately 9pm on 28 March. (Mae Sot is a town in western Thailand, right at the border with Burma. Also, for a variety of reasons the release of news of this attack has been delayed until now.)

The incident is described below:

“I was walking down the street near the Bai Fern Guesthouse/Restaurant when a motorbike passed in front of me and then stopped on the road. Three men were on the motorbike and all of them had their faces covered. The man who was riding on the back of the bike dismounted quickly, screamed “you,” and charged at me swinging a sword or machete about 2-3 feet in length. I hesitated momentarily, because I did not really understand what was happening. The sword missed slashing my chest by perhaps six inches or so. I ran about 10 meters and darted off the road. By that time the three men had sped away on the motorbike. The incident happened very quickly and occurred in a dark area. I immediately went to the police station located just 100 meters down the road. I gave them all the details that I could, although I do not think they believed me. As I was leaving the station a young Thai man arrived, and said he witnessed what happened. But I am suspicious of this man (perhaps unjustly) for several reasons: I did not see any witnesses in the area, the young man's shirt design was similar to that of the attackers, and he arrived at the police station at least 20 minutes after the attack.

On the 3rd of April, I went to the Tourist Police station in Mae Sot. Interestingly, they had not been informed of this matter. I made a full report. I feel I was targeted not for a robbery or an assault, but to be murdered. Because of the ferocity and speed of the attack, I feel confident in making such an observation. I also feel that because the attackers' faces were covered and that they had a sword, that this action certainly was a premeditated and planned attack.”

This incident demonstrates the grave risks born by pro-democracy activists at the border who are striving to communicate to the international community the suffering of the people of Burma, including refugees, political prisoners, economic migrants, and also the ethnic groups that reside in the mountains along the border, both on the Thai and Burma sides.

The attack is also evidence of the dangerous atmosphere at the border that has developed since the government of Thailand changed its policy and decided to openly support the Burmese dictators, even to the extent of repressing its own hill groups and such humanitarian efforts. We advise all activists to be mindful of the current developments in Thailand, in particular the drastic rise in drug related homicides and the government’s growing economic, political, and strategic collaboration with the Burmese military dictatorship, and to exercise caution accordingly.