Christians allege Burmese gas attack - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
April 22, 2005

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Christians allege Burmese gas attack

-22/04/05

The Burmese army used chemical weapons in an attack on ethnic Karenni rebels, the UK-based rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide has alleged in a draft report.

Martin Panter, the organisation's international president, told both the BBC's Today Programme and the Guardian newspaper that he had interviewed and examined five reported survivors of the February 15 assault on Karenni positions in Nya My, just over the border from the northern Thai town of Mae Hon Son.

During the shelling of a Karenni camp, Dr Panter has gathered reports that a device exploded which gave out yellow smoke and a ìhighly irritating odourî.

On April 14 Dr Panter interviewed five of the soldiers who suffered symptoms as a result of this alleged attack, such as irritation to the skin and lungs and severe muscle weakness.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide UK, said: ìThe circumstantial evidence for the use of chemical weapons against the Karenni people seems to be very compelling indeed.

"The evidence Dr Panter gathered of irritation to peopleís eyes, throat, lungs and skin point to the use of chemical weapons against them. The Burmese regime has been waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Karenni for many years now, and the apparent use of chemical weapons is consistent with what we know of this brutal regime.

"CSW calls on the international community to put increased pressure on this regime to improve its human rights record. In addition we are calling on ASEAN to refuse to allow Burma to chair ASEAN in July 2006.î

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