We are relaying this update out from where we are on relief missions in Karen State, Burma. In spite of positive changes in Burma; such as release of many political prisoners, easing of restrictions on the press, and beginning of ceasefire talks with Shan, Chin, and Karen groups, the Burma Army continues its attacks in some ethnic areas and resupplying in all areas.
Here in Karen State there is no ceasefire yet in spite of talks between the Burma Army and the pro-democracy Karen resistance- Karen National Union (KNU). In Northern Burma over 40,000 Kachin villagers have been displaced by ongoing attacks in an offensive by over 100 Burma Army battalions. Tonight, Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan team members here all expressed concern that the attacks against the Kachin, while ceasefire talks were being held with other groups, was a continuation of the government’s divide and rule strategy. They asked, “While the army offers talks with us and then attacks the Kachin, how can we believe they are sincere?”
|Medics treat Karen burn victim.|
|Relief team on the move in Karen State|
|Burma Army Camp Toungoo District Karen State|
|Burned Kachin village of Nam Lin Hpa|
Among the many patients we treated here recently, there were a little boy who was burned and a mother in labor whom we could provide funds for treatment, but could not fully treat in the jungle. But because of the KNU, we were able to send the mother through Burma Amy lines to a hospital and to make arrangements for the boy to be sent out later. The resistance is strong in these areas and is limiting Burma Army attacks on villages. The situation in other ethic areas varies from the ability to hold back the Burma Army and provide services, to just holding on and trying to survive. In all areas, wherever people choose to resist together, there is freedom and this freedom shines as a beacon of hope throughout Burma and to the whole world. Earlier, during Christmas here, I was giving out gifts and I asked if anyone needed anything else. We all stopped still when one of our lady medics, Hsa Kae (Shining Star), said, “I want my father and mother.” When she was 16 years old, on Christmas Day, her parents were shot dead in their home by the Burma Army. I went over to her, held her hand and prayed. I told her I was sorry. She looked at me and said, “It is ok,” and as I looked into her eyes, she smiled. Hsa Kae has chosen in the midst of her sadness to reach out and help others.
|Burned boy and GLC bracelet|
|Kachin family in hiding from Lung Jung village|
|FBR relief teams with Karen IDPs in Karen State|
All of us can reach out and help respond to the current changes with prayer, openness, unity and confidence in the truths we stand on: that people were made to be free, that love is the greatest power of all, that justice must be done and that reconciliation is the only way to real peace. We have sent the letter below to the government of the Union of Myanmar (Burma).
Dear leaders of the Union of Myanmar, We pray for you and encourage you to reconcile with all the people of Burma and if there is any constructive way we can help you in this please let us know.
Thank you and may God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers.
Our 59 relief teams from 11 different ethnic groups – Karen, Karenni, Kayan, Pa-Oh, Naga, Kachin, Chin, Lahu, Arakan, Mon, and Shan – continue to bring help, hope and love to people under attack, to shine a light on the situation, and to build up young leaders for freedom, justice and reconciliation in Burma. As one of our new Rangers said about the uprising in 1988, “Now I realize that we made a mistake in 1988 by not showing the Burma Army generals love. The students called for punishment and the generals reacted by cracking down until today. The next time, we must show love and forgiveness to the generals. Then we will win.” We have been praying for change in Burma based on this kind of love and are supporting the process of dialogue, understanding, and, we hope, an end to the conflict. But it has not ended and we will keep giving help, hope and love to those in need and doing our best to shine a light.
Thank you and God bless you,
Dave, family and teams
|Dental care in Northern Karen State|
|Karen children enjoy the program|
|Lahu Good life Club leader with Karen children|