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Burma Junta Slams Washington for Welcoming Karen


Burma's military junta has criticized the United States for waiving immigration laws to allow Karen refugees to resettle in the U.S.

Information Minister Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan says the refugees are members or families of members of the Karen National Union - a rebel force battling the military government. He says Washington should not be giving them immigration status.

The KNU has accused Burma's military of driving 11,000 ethnic Karen out of their homes near the Thai border in a recent offensive. The rebels say the military has shelled and burned Karen villages, planted land mines, subjected people to forced labor, and committed rape, torture and murder.

But the Burmese general says the ethnic Karen are fleeing because of a power struggle within the Karen rebel movement.

He made the statements to foreign journalists during a rare government-sponsored tour of Thabyenyunt.

The Karen have been fighting for independence for the last 50 years in what is one of the world's longest-running insurgencies. More than 100,000 Karen are living in refugee camps in Thailand due to the conflict.

Several world bodies have called on the Burmese army to stop its assault.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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