Saturday, August 22, 2009

Burmese Troops Gain on Rebels

Burma is a well-forested nation in turmoil. The totalitarian dictatorship causes environmental damage for lumber and mineral profits to prop itself up and sociological devastation through force to stay in power. This continues even in the face of humanitarian crises such as Cyclone Nargis, which a monk is seen dealing with (Image: NYTimes).

Myanmar Troops Gain on Rebels as Villagers Flee
Thomas Fuller (New York Times, Aug. 20, 2009)

MAE SALID, Thailand — For the first time in at least a decade, Burma/Myanmar’s central government controls most of its own border with Thailand. By the standards of most countries this might not be considered a major accomplishment. But Burma has been fighting ethnic Karen rebels along the mountainous border for nearly as long as it has existed as an independent country.

Myanmar Army troops keep a tight lid on all forms of civil disobedience (AFP).

The Myanmar military and a local proxy militia undertook an assault in June that led to the capture of seven military camps run by the Karen National Union, a rebel group that once so dominated parts of the 1,100-mile Thailand-Burma border that it collected customs duties at its own checkpoints.

Karen National Liberation Army Col. Bothien Thientha, 48, was injured during fighting in June against a militia allied with the government (NYTimes/Thomas Fuller).

The June offensive surprised the Karen forces partly because it took place during the muddy monsoon season, usually a time of a climate-induced truce. Hundreds of rebels fled into the jungles infested with malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The Karen have led one of the most resilient insurgencies in Asia. They once proposed to their British colonial overlords that they create an independent “Karenistan.” More>>