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Landmines still extensively used in Karen State


In the eight months from August 2012 to March 2013, at least nine people were killed and at least nine injured by landmines in Karen [Kayin] State in eastern Myanmar, according to the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG).  

These four villagers, including 18-year-old Saw H---, shown here on September 24th 2007, all lost the lower sections of one leg in separate incidents when, upon stepping on landmines, the lower part of the limb was blown off. The Myanmar-manufactured M-14 landmine, which the Myanmar Army regularly deploys in civilian areas in Karen State is often not fatal to adults but severely mutilates one or both of a victim's legs. For young children and small animals, however, the risk of death from the M-14 landmines is far greater. [Photo: KHRG]
These four villagers, including 18-year-old Saw H---, shown here on September 24th 2007, all lost the lower sections of one leg in separate incidents when, upon stepping on landmines, the lower part of the limb was blown off. The Myanmar-manufactured M-14 landmine, which the Myanmar Army regularly deploys in civilian areas in Karen State is often not fatal to adults but severely mutilates one or both of a victim's legs. For young children and small animals, however, the risk of death from the M-14 landmines is far greater. [Photo: KHRG]
KHRG conducted surveys in seven areas—Taninthayi, Thaton, Hpa-An, Dooplaya, Papun, Nyaunglebin and Taungoo—and found that most of the landmine victims are from Dooplaya, Papun and Nyaunglebin, said Saw Albert, field director for the KHRG.

"In February, five people in the Papun District controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) and three people in the Nyaunglebin District were injured by landmines.  Most of the victims lost their legs," he said.

The areas where KHRG conducted the survey are where fighting occurred between the government army and Karen armed groups, said Khu Khu Ju of the KHRG.

She added that both the armed groups and residents used landmines in the areas.

"There are cases in which villagers themselves planted landmines. In some villages, they formed committees and planted landmines to protect themselves," she said.

On Monday, the KHRG delivered a 24-page report based on the survey and data collected from August 2012 to March 2013.

"During this period, villagers trained by KHRG collected a total of 422 oral testimonies, sets of images and written documentation," said the KHRG's report. "Eighteen incidents, raised concerns or dealt with issues related to the use of landmines in eastern Burma [Myanmar]."  

Recently, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that about 500,000 refugees from northern and southeastern Myanmar are unable to return to their homes because of the threat posed by landmines.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in November 2012 that Myanmar is afflicted with the third highest number of landmine victims in the world.

At an event at the Myanmar Peace Center on the UN International Day for Mine Awareness on April 4, anti-landmine activists said that 274 people were killed by landmines in Myanmar in 2011 and that Myanmar ranked fifth in terms of death counts by landmines.   

To date, 156 countries have signed the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention. But, Myanmar has yet to sign the treaty.

Related articles:
  1. The lay of the landmines
  2. Burma’s landmine issue
Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 April 2013 14:53 )