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No more flee

Photo Report from Ei Tu Hta IDPs camp in KNLA’s Brigade 5 / Karen state of Burma 

by Yu-Kyung Lee, 7 November 2009

“There’s no village. I’m from hiding place.” An old man in Ei Tu Hta IDPs camp in Karen state 

In early of June in 2006, Burma Army and its ally Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (or DKBA) have jointly launched a military offensive in the Southern part of Karen state, which is referred to “KNLA’s Brigade 7”, resulting in some 4,000 people in Ler Per Her Internally Displace Persons (or IDPs) camp of the area fleeing to Thai territory for safety. Karen National Liberation Army (or KNLA), which has been fighting the worlds’ longest insurgency against the Burma’s Junta for more than 60 years, eventually had had to withdraw their forces from the area after three weeks long resistance. The remnant forces of KNLA since then have been reportedly conducting guerrilla warfare by ambushing their enemy. 

The offensive, which was unprecedentedly conducted in rainy season, has left further gloomy climate around the Thai-Burmese border area, particularly “KNLA’s Brigade 5” along the Salween River on the border with northern Thailand. There have been ongoing reports that the next offensive might be seen in September or October in “Brigade 5”, where some 5,000 IDPs have been sheltering in Ei Tu Hta camp and nearby Ueclo camp, which is called ‘Section 6’ of Ei Tu Hta camp. These IDPs have fled their former places since 3 years ago as the Junta’s offensive took place in the whole Karen state from Nov. 2005 through the year of 2006.

In the mid of September, during the time when these photos were taken, people in Ei Tu Hta seemed to be calm but remain scared. While a number of children looked more enjoying their studying, some elders in the camp said they’re exhausted of fleeing the area where they are residing, as most of them have ever moved in their most of life time.
Observers have viewed that the recent operations by the Junta around Thai-Burma border as well as Kokang, which is bordered with China, have indicated that the SPDC (the official name of the Burmese Junta) seems to have tried to eliminate all kinds of obstacles before its ambitious 2010 election. It has ordered dozens of cease fire groups to transform into “Border Guard Forces” (or BGF) under the SPDC’s command on one hand, conducting operation against non ceasefire group, such as KNLA on the other hand.  

Ei Tu Hta IDPs camp is located in KNLA’s Brigade 5, which is said to be a next target of Burma Army after the June offensive by DKBA combined SPDC forces in Brigade 7 area. Some 5000 IDPs in the camp are the ones, who fled the 2006 general operation in the Karen state by the Burma Army.
photo: Yu-Kyung Lee

Ei Tu Hta IDPs camp is located in KNLA’s Brigade 5, which is said to be a next target of Burma Army after the June offensive by DKBA combined SPDC forces in Brigade 7 area. Some 5000 IDPs in the camp are the ones, who fled the 2006 general operation in the Karen state by the Burma Army.   

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