‘Human Rights Violations continue in Burma’ – ND-Burma reportsBy Zin Linn May 09, 2012 9:46PM UTC
A human rights documentation network released a report today, covering the human rights situation in Burma from March 2011 – March 2012, the one-year period of President Thein Sein’s government at administrative center. During that coverage time, 415 cases of human rights violations were committed by the government dominated by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and its cohorts.
The watch dog group, Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma (ND-Burma), said in its report dated 9 May 2012 that there were 85 cases of torture, 59 cases of forced labour and 114 cases of confiscation or destruction of property. Those human rights abuses were direct outcome of the continuing armed conflict between the Burmese Army and ethnic armed groups in ethnic areas across Burma.
The information gathered covers 16 categories of human rights violations (HRVs), documented in all 14 states and regions across Burma, the ND-Burma said. But, the network said that the report could not cover all HRVs occurred in the country. Because of security concerns, the network could not reach or monitor various places where human rights abuses took place.
According to ND-Burma’s report, throughout this one-year period, important political events happened in Burma. President Thein Sein granted amnesties to a number of political prisoners, though 473 still remain in prison. Moreover, 465 political prisoners’ whereabouts are under verification currently.
The report also sheds light on 1st April 2012 by-election, in which 45 parliamentary seats were contested. The opposition National League for Democracy won 43 seats with its leader Daw Aung Suu Kyi being elected as a member of parliament for the first time in history. The elections were hailed as a progress by the international community. Afterward, the European Union is set to approve a one year suspension of sanctions while the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia and the United States have announced an easing of sanctions.
However, the report says that there is still a serious concern for the human rights situation in Burma. As pointed out by the ND-Burma, the ongoing civil war in ethnic areas has directly resulted in killings, land confiscation, forced labour, child soldiers, forced relocation, torture and ill treatment. Fighting in Karen State intensified after the 2010 election, until a ceasefire agreement was reached between the KNU and the government’s peace negotiation team in January 2012.
The network also states the government’s armed forces continued offensives against the Shan State Army (south) and the Shan State Army (North) although a ceasefire agreement has been signed more than four months ago.
In brief, the report calls attention to a 17-year ceasefire agreement between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese armed forces which collapsed when the military attacked a KIA’s strategic post on June 9 2011. Despite President Thein Sein issued orders to halt offensives in Kachin State, his soldiers do not stop fighting there.
As a result over 70,000 Kachin people are living in an Internally Displaced Persons camp in Kachin state near the Chinese border, and there is a serious concern for human rights in relation to this on-going conflict, ND-Burma analyzes in general.
“If you look at the number of human rights violations documented in this report, you will get a picture of how serious the human rights conditions are in Burma right now, while the international community is applauding the Burmese government’s gestures toward changes. We support the government’s effort to reach peace with the armed ethnic nationality groups, but it has to be done comprehensively and indiscriminately,” said Moon Nayli, a member of Management Board of the ND-Burma.
Actually, it should be a necessity for the lifting of sanctions by the Western governments to call ending of conflict between the Burmese Army and ethnic groups. However, fighting is still going on and various sanctions have been lifted too early, the network made a criticism in its report.
Although the civilian government working for ceasefire agreements with the Karen National Union, New Mon State Party, Chin National Front and Arakan Liberation Party, warfare still continues between the government armed forces and the KIA troops. The steps forward to transform these bilateral truce accords into nationwide ceasefire agreements still remain unfulfilled, ND-Burma’s report says.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur recently visited Burma and in his progress report to the Human Rights Council in March this year, Mr. Quintana stated that “at this crucial moment in the country’s history, remaining human rights concerns and challenges should be addressed, and justice and accountability measures, as well as measures to ensure access to the truth, should be taken.”
“During this reporting period, the government has done little to improve the human rights situation across the 14 States and Regions of Burma. In this time of critical importance, the government should address the past human rights violations in order to uphold the rule of law and to deter the reoccurrence of human rights violations in the future,” said Nai Au Mon, another member of Management Board of the ND-Burma.
ND-Burma emphasizes that seeking the truth does no harm and yet it will significantly contribute to establishing justice, liberty and equality in Burma. It will help to create an environment in which individuals, institutions and government entities can work together towards an open and free society, while decreasing the amount of human rights violations and the perpetual abuse of power.