Myanmar’s Karen Rebels Say 25 Slain Men Were Junta Spies, Not Civilians

“We had to detain these agents to protect the young people,” said a Karen National Defence Organisation spokesman.

Myanmar’s Karen Rebels Say 25 Slain Men Were Junta Spies, Not Civilians

Twenty-five men found dead last week at a bridge building site near Myanmar’s border with Thailand were spies for the military junta, not construction workers as claimed by authorities, a Karen rebel group spokesman said Friday while the political wing of the ethnic group said it would investigate the case.

The Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO), an armed group under the Karen National Union (KNU), detained 47 people, including women and children, who were working on a bridge construction site in eastern Kayan state, near the border with Thailand, on May 31, an official military newspaper reported Monday.

According to the military-run Myawaddy newspaper, 22 of the group, including six women and 10 children, were released on June 1 and 9, while the bodies of the 25 remaining captives were found near the Uhu Chaung Bridge on June 11 and 12. One body was burned and six of the men had their hands tied behind their backs, the report said.

A KNDO spokesman released a video Friday saying the slain men were not ordinary construction workers, but military intelligence officers who came to collect evidence of Myanmar youths undergoing military training in KNU territory. Thousands of citizens opposed to the junta that overthrew the government on Feb. 1 have fled to rebel territories on Myanmar's periphery to receive military training.

“We have a lot of evidence, together with photos, that the group that came to build the bridge near Kanelay village was a military intelligence group. We also have videos,” said the spokesman in the video.

“If we didn’t take action against the military agents, all the information about the young Generation Z people and the urban youth who had come to us for training would be exposed. We had to detain these agents to protect the young people,” said the spokesman.

The Irrawaddy, an independent online news outlet, quoted the spokesman for the KNDO chief of staff Major General Nerdah Bo Mya as saying the slain men wore military dress and were from infantry and engineering units.

“We shot some of them dead. But some were killed in shelling by the military,” spokesman Saw Wah Nay Nu was quoted as saying.

“They were not road workers. They had military uniforms and badges. They had military equipment. We seized it all,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“They sent drones every night for a month. We said we could not accept that. But they continued and we have had to do what we are supposed to do as we are fighting a war. It was because they didn’t listen to us,” added Saw Wah Nay Nu

“They always want to carry out area clearance operations. In fact, they have killed a lot of people. They (the victims) belonged to the engineering unit,” said the KNDO spokesman.

The junta’s Southeast Military Command sent a letter to KNU on June 13 urging an investigation and the announced on June 16 that it would investigate the matter, reported the local KIC Karen News outfit.

Padoh Saw Taw Ni, KNU's foreign affairs officer, told RFA that in cases when innocent civilians are killed, KNU follows international and local laws.

"I do not know the details yet. As the statement says, we follow the Geneva Conventions because we work with international organizations,” he said.

Aung Myo Min, human rights minister for the National Unity Government and a longtime human rights activist, says the killing of detainees without a fair trial is unacceptable.

"From a human rights point of view, even if it was during a war, killing without trial is completely unacceptable to us. Civilians should not be killed at all,” he said.

“Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for a person is absolutely unacceptable in the eyes of any human rights group,” added Aung Myo Min.

According to The Irrawaddy, heavy clashes between the KNDO and junta troops in the area of the killings from May 31 to the first week of June had driven more than 200 villagers to flee to Thailand.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Paul Eckert. 

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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China Policies Could Reduce Millions of Uyghur Births in Xinjiang: Researcher

Analysis of Chinese research shows policies are drive by intention to dilute the Uyghur population of Xinjiang.

China Policies Could Reduce Millions of Uyghur Births in Xinjiang: Researcher

China appears to be taking measures to sharply reduce ethnic minority population growth in the southern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) under “population optimization” policies amid its crackdown on Uyghurs and other Muslims, according to a new report by a German researcher.

Adrian Zenz’s report indicates that Chinese birth control and population transfer policies could result in a large drop in births among Uyghurs of 2.6 million to 4.5 million by 2040, based on population projections by Chinese researchers. There are about 12 million Uyghurs in the XUAR.

Official Chinese data presented in the 28-page report titled “End the Dominance of the Uyghur Ethnic Group: An Analysis of Beijing’s Population Optimization Strategy in Southern Xinjiang,” indicate that birth rates in the southern XUAR have dropped by 48.7 percent between 2017 and 2019, writes Zenz, an independent researcher with the Washington-based non-profit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

The report on China’s policy to reduce population growth in the Uyghur heartland comes at a time when Western nations and rights groups have called for a probe into Beijing’s policies in the XUAR — internment camps, forced labor, and coercive birth control — to determine whether they constitute genocide.

China angrily denies it is committing atrocities or genocide in the XUAR.

The peer-reviewed report includes research by Chinese officials and academics that show that policies in Xinjiang, such as mass sterilization of women, are driven by the view that the Uyghur population’s size, concentration, and rapid growth are a national security threat that must be addressed.

Based on official birth data, demographic projections, and ethnic ratios proposed by Chinese academics and officials, Zenz estimates that the policies could increase the Han population in the southern XUAR to about 25 percent from its current 8.4 percent.

Zenz has published previous reports on abortions in the XUAR, forced labor, and the internment of an estimated one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in a network of camps.

His work has been cited as evidence that the Uyghurs are being destroyed as a people by those making the case of genocide under the United Nations legal framework.

Zenz and others note that the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide lists birth prevention targeting an ethnic group as an act that could qualify as genocide.

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China slams report

Chinese officials have slammed Zenz’s recent findings, as they have his other research on the mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities within China's Xinjiang re-education camps, transfers of Muslim laborers to other regions, and birth reductions in the XUAR.

In an op-ed published on June 10, the state-run TV outlet CGTN said Zenz was driven by “spiritual beliefs” to portray a slowdown in population growth in Xinjiang as evidence of deliberate policies to reduce the Uyghur population.

“No genocide is taking place in Xinjiang. Instead, a media-savvy mix of separatists and religious zealots are being used by frightened geopolitical rivals to distract China, isolate it diplomatically, and slow down its rise,” it said.

“And Adrian Zenz’s latest paper shows the desperation of the people manufacturing these lies laboring mightily yet futilely to sustain them,” said CGTN.

More than 30 witnesses and experts, including Zenz, provided testimony to a “Uyghur Tribunal” held in London on June 4-7 that aimed to gather evidence on whether the Chinese government’s alleged human rights abuses in the XUAR constitute genocide. The nine members of the panel, which has no state backing, will hold a second round of hearings in September and are expected to issue a non-binding verdict in December.

“Beijing’s strategy in Xinjiang is not one of population destruction, but population control,” Zenz said when discussing his findings at a June 10 hearing on the atrocities in the XUAR held by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s a mass atrocity without mass slaughter, one with human rights violations of historic proportions, but leading to a loss of millions of lives potentially.”

China has held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs in a network of detention camps since 2017. Beijing has said that the camps are vocational training centers or re-education centers and smaller numbers of Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, fellow Turkic speaking people, have also been incarcerated in the camp system.

The democratic parliaments of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania have passed motions determining that China’s policies in the XUAR constitute genocide.

The U.S. government in January designated abuses in the region as part of a campaign of genocide, and the German parliament is conducting an inquiry into the allegations.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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