Burma blasts 'politically motivated' EU statement on Karen

June 15, 2009 (DVB), Burma's ruling junta has criticized a European Union statement calling for its army to respect international law regarding its Karen offensive as "ignorant" and "politically motivated".

Around 4,000 civilians from Burma's eastern Karen state have fled into Thailand in recent weeks to escape a mounting offensive by the Burmese army against the Karen National Union (KNU).

Last week the EU called for an immediate truce between the two groups and expressed "serious concern" about the situation for the Karen now holed up in various sites along the Thai-Burma border.

A statement in the government mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar newspaper however called the statement "ignorant", arguing that only KNU personnel were located near the conflict site and thus it was only they who had fled across the border.

The statement, it said, was "politically motivated" and "factually incorrect" and served the purpose of "exerting added political pressure on [Burma]".

The KNU welcomed the statement and reiterated its call to the Burmese government to find a solution to the world's longest running conflict through dialogue and not "use of arms".

Meanwhile, the Karen Information Committee (KIC) said that among the 4000 or so Karen refugees in Thailand were newborn babies surviving on basic foods such as rice donated by NGOs. Thai village authorities were also providing medical assistance.

Last week three artillery shells fired by the Burmese army in its offensive reportedly landed on Thai soil, although no injuries occurred.

"The Thai government has not said anything regarding on the Burmese shells landing onto their soil," said Nan Phaw Kay, editor of KIC.

"So far there have been about 10 shells landed since the start of this month."

Reporting by Thurein Soe and Francis Wade

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