Union of Myanma (Union of Burma)
Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw
Joined United Nations: 19 April 1948
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 16 January 2013
Nay Pyi Taw
note: estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to
AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates,
lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and
sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2012 est.)
Vice President since 15 August 2012
THEIN SEIN elected president by the parliament from among
three vice presidents; the upper house, the lower house, and military
members of the parliament each nominate one vice president
(president serves a five-year term) Election last held: 30 March
Next scheduled election: 2016
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
According to the Myanmar Constitution, the President is both
the Chief of State and Head of government
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Military junta with 7 divisions (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne); Legal system is based on
English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive: THEIN SEIN elected president by the parliament from among three vice presidents; the upper house, the lower house,
and military members of the parliament each nominate one vice president (president serves a five-year term); Election last held: 30
March 2011 (Next schduled election: 2016)
Legislative: Bicameral, consists of the House of Nationalities [Amyotha Hluttaw] (224 seats, 168 directly elected and 56
appointed by the military; members serve five-year terms) and the House of Representatives [Pythu Hluttaw] (440 seats, 330
directly elected and 110 appointed by the military; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 November 2010 (next to be held in December 2015)
Judicial: Remnants of the British-era legal system are in place, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not
independent of the executive; the 2011 constitution calls for a Supreme Court, a Courts-Martial, and a Constitutional Tribunal of the
Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages
Humans lived in the region that is now Burma as early as 11,000 years ago, but the first identifiable civilisation is that of the Pyu
although both Burman and Mon tradition claim that the fabled Suvarnabhumi mentioned in ancient Pali and Sanskrit texts was a
Mon kingdom centred on Thaton in present day Mon state. Artefacts from the excavated site of Nyaunggan help to reconstruct
Bronze Age life in Burma and the more recent archaeological evidence at Samon Valley south of Mandalay suggests rice growing
settlements between about 500 BC and 200 AD which traded with Qin and Han dynasty China. The Pyu arrived in Burma in the
1st century BC and established city kingdoms at Binnaka, Mongamo, Sri Ksetra, Peikthanomyo, and Halingyi. During this period,
Burma was part of an overland trade route from China to India. Chinese sources state that the Pyu controlled 18 kingdoms and
describe them as a humane and peaceful people. War was virtually unknown amongst the Pyu, and disputes were often solved
through duels by champions or building competitions. Sri Ksetra was apparently abandoned around A.D. 656 in favour of a more
northerly capital, though the exact site is not known. Some historians believe it was Halingyi. Wherever the new capital was located,
it was sacked by the kingdom of Nanzhao in the mid-9th century, ending the Pyu's period of dominance. To the north another group
of people, the Bamar (Mranma / Myanma), also began to settle in the area. By 849, they had founded a powerful kingdom centred
on the city of Pagan (spelled Bagan today) filling the void left by the Pyu. Bamar tradition maintains that the Bamar were originally of
three tribes: the Pyu; the Thet; and the Kanyan. Indeed, Pyu as a language and as a people simply disappeared soon after the
Myazedi Inscription of 1113. The word Mranma,in both Mon and Myanmar inscriptions, came into being only at about the same
time, lending support to this claim that the Pyu were an earlier vanguard of southward Tibeto-Burman migration who were entirely
absorbed into a newly formed identity by later waves of similar people. The Pagan Kingdom grew in relative isolation until the reign
of Anawrahta (1044-77) who successfully unified all of Burma by defeating the Mon city of Thaton in 1057. After the collapse of
Pagan authority, Burma was divided. A Burman Ava Dynasty (1364–527) was eventually established at the city of Ava by 1364.
Pagan culture was revived and a great age of Burmese literature ensued. The kingdom lacked easily defendable borders, however,
and was overrun by the Shan in 1527. King Mingyinyo founded the First Toungoo Dynasty (1486–1599) at Toungoo, south of
Ava, towards the end of the Ava dynasty. After the conquest of Ava by the Shan invaders in 1527 many Burmans migrated to
Toungoo which became a new center for Burmese rule. Mingyinyo's son king Tabinshwehti (1531-50) unified most of Burma. By
this time, the geopolitical situation in Southeast Asia had changed dramatically. The Shan gained power in a new kingdom in the
North, Ayutthaya (Siam), while the Portuguese had arrived in the south and conquered Malacca. With the coming of European
traders, Burma was once again an important trading centre, and Tabinshwehti moved his capital to Pegu due to its strategic position
for commerce. Faced with rebellion by several cities and renewed Portuguese incursions, the Toungoo rulers withdrew from
southern Burma and founded a second dynasty at Ava, the Restored Toungoo Dynasty (1597–1752). Bayinnaung's grandson,
Anaukpetlun, once again reunited Burma in 1613 and decisively defeated Portuguese attempts to take over Burma. Even China
began to fear expansion of Burmese power in the East and sent armies to Burma, but Hsinbyushin successfully repulsed four
Chinese invasions between 1766 and 1769 stretching its limits within Chinese borders. The expansion of Burma had consequences
along its frontiers. As those frontiers moved ever closer to British India, there were problems both with refugees and military
operations spilling over ill-defined borders. In response to the continued expansion and even direct attacks by Burma, the British
and the Siamese joined forces against it in 1824. The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-26) ended in a British victory, and by the
Treaty of Yandabo, Burma lost territory previously conquered in Assam, Manipur and Arakan. The British also took possession of
Tenasserim with the intention to use it as a bargaining chip in future negotiations with either Burma or Siam. As the century wore on,
the British in India began to covet the resources and main port of Burma during an era of great territorial expansion. Taking
advantage of France's recent defeat of China, and confident that China would not intervene to defend its tributary, the British
declared war once again in 1885, conquering the remainder of the country in the Third Anglo-Burmese War resulting in total
annexation of Burma. Britain made Burma a province of India in 1886 with the capital at Rangoon. Traditional Burmese society was
drastically altered by the demise of the monarchy and the separation of religion and state. Though war officially ended after only a
couple of weeks, resistance continued in northern Burma until 1890, with the British finally resorting to a systematic destruction of
villages and appointment of new officials to finally halt all guerrilla activity. Progressive constitutional reform in the early 1920s led to
a legislature with limited powers, a university and more autonomy for Burma within the administration of India. The British separated
Burma from India in 1937 and granted the colony a new constitution calling for a fully elected assembly, but this proved to be a
divisive issue as some Burmese felt that this was a ploy to exclude them from any further Indian reforms whereas other Burmese
saw any action that removed Burma from the control of India to be a positive step. Some Burmese nationalists saw the outbreak of
World War II as an opportunity to extort concessions from the British in exchange for support in the war effort. When the Japanese
occupied Bangkok in December 1941, Aung San announced the formation of the Burma Independence Army (BIA) in anticipation
of the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942. On March 27, 1945 the Burma National Army rose up in a countrywide rebellion
against the Japanese. The surrender of the Japanese brought a military administration to Burma and demands to try Aung San for his
involvement in a murder during military operations in 1942. Lord Mountbatten realized that this was an impossibility considering
Aung San's popular appeal. July 19 has been commemorated since as Martyrs' Day. Thakin Nu, the Socialist leader, was now
asked to form a new cabinet, and he presided over Burmese independence on January 4, 1948. The popular sentiment to part with
the British was so strong at the time that Burma opted not to join the British Commonwealth, unlike India or Pakistan. Burma
generally strove to be impartial in world affairs and was one of the first countries in the world to recognize Israel and the People's
Republic of China. Soon after seizing power, a peaceful student protest on Rangoon University campus was suppressed by the
military killing over 100 students on July 7, 1962. The next day, the army blew up the Students Union building. In 1978, a military
operation was conducted against the Rohingya Muslims in Arakan, called the King Dragon operation, causing 250,000 refugees to
flee to neighboring Bangladesh. In the 1980s, the economy began to grow as the government relaxed restrictions on foreign aid, but
by the late 1980s falling commodity prices and rising debt led to an economic crisis. This led to economic reforms in 1987-88 that
relaxed socialist controls and encouraged foreign investment. Triggered by brutal police repression of student-led protests causing
the death of over a hundred students and civilians in March and June 1988, widespread protests and demonstrations broke out on
August 8 throughout the country. The military responded by firing into the crowds, alleging Communist infiltration. Violence, chaos
and anarchy reigned. Civil administration had ceased to exist, and by September of that year, the country was on the verge of a
revolution. The armed forces, under the nominal command of General Saw Maung staged a coup on September 18 to restore
order. During the 8888 Uprising, as it became known, the military killed thousands. The military swept aside the Constitution of
1974 in favor of martial law under the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) with Saw Maung as chairman and
prime minister. The military government announced a change of name for the country in English from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. It
also continued the economic reforms started by the old regime and called for a Constituent Assembly to revise the 1974
Constitution. This led to multiparty elections in May 1990 in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide
victory over the National Unity Party (NUP, the successor to the BSPP) and about a dozen smaller parties. The military,
however, would not let the assembly convene, and continued to hold the two leaders of the NLD, U Tin U and Aung San Suu Kyi,
daughter of Aung San, under house arrest imposed on them the previous year. On February 17, 2005, the government reconvened
the National Convention, for the first time since 1993, in an attempt to rewrite the Constitution. In November 2005, the military
junta started moving the government away from Yangon to In 2005, the capital city was relocated from Yangon to Naypyidaw. The
2007 Burmese anti-government protests were a series of anti-government protests that started in Burma on August 15, 2007. At
the time, independent sources reported, through pictures and accounts, 30 to 40 monks and 50 to 70 civilians killed as well as 200
beaten. However, other sources reveal more dramatic figures. On 7 February 2008, SPDC announced that a referendum for the
Constitution would be held, and Elections by 2010. The Burmese constitutional referendum, 2008 was held on May 10 and
promised a "discipline-flourishing democracy" for the country in the future. On May 3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated the
country when winds of up to 215 km/h (135 mph) touched land in the densely populated, rice-farming delta of the Irrawaddy
Division. It is estimated that more than 130,000 people died or went missing and damage totalled 10 billion dollars (USD); it
was the worst natural disaster in Burmese history. The 2011–2012 Burmese democratic reforms are an ongoing series of political,
economic and administrative reforms in Burma undertaken by the military-backed government. These reforms include the release of
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and subsequent dialogues with her, establishment of the National
Human Rights Commission, general amnesties of more than 200 political prisoners, institution of new labour laws that allow labour
unions and strikes, relaxation of press censorship, and regulations of currency practices. As a consequence of the reforms, ASEAN
has approved Burma's bid for the chairmanship in 2014. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Burma on 1
December 2011, to encourage further progress; it was the first visit by a Secretary of State in more than fifty years. United States
President Barack Obama visited one year later, becoming the first US president to visit the country. Suu Kyi's party, the National
League for Democracy, participated in by-elections held on 1 April 2012 after the government abolished laws that led to the NLD's
boycott of the 2010 general election. She led the NLD in winning the by-elections in a landslide, winning 41 out of 44 of the
contested seats, with Suu Kyi herself winning a seat representing Kawhmu Constituency in the lower house of the Burmese
Parliament. However, uncertainties exist as some other political prisoners have not been released and clashes between Burmese
troops and local insurgent groups continue.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Burma
Burma, a resource-rich country, suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, corruption, and rural
poverty. Despite Burma's emergence as a natural gas exporter, socio-economic conditions have deteriorated under the
mismanagement of the previous regime. Approximately 32% of the population lives in poverty and Burma is the poorest country in
Southeast Asia. The business climate is widely perceived as opaque, corrupt, and highly inefficient. Wealth from country's ample
natural resources is concentrated in the hands of an elite group of military leaders and business associates. In 2010-11, the transfer
of state assets - especially real estate - to military families under the guise of a privatization policy further widened the gap between
the economic elite and the public. The economy suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including multiple official
exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat, fiscal deficits, lack of commercial credit further distorted by a non-market interest
rate regime, unpredictable inflation, unreliable economic data, and an inability to reconcile national accounts. Burma's poor
investment climate - including weak rule of law - hampers the inflow of foreign investment; in recent years, foreign investors have
shied away from nearly every sector except for natural gas, power generation, timber, and mining. The exploitation of natural
resources does not benefit the population at large. The most productive sectors will continue to be in extractive industries -
especially oil and gas, mining, and timber - with the latter two causing significant environmental degradation. Other areas, such as
manufacturing, tourism, and services, struggle in the face of poor infrastructure, unpredictable trade policies, undeveloped human
resources (the result of neglected health and education systems), endemic corruption, and inadequate access to capital for
investment. Private banks still operate under tight domestic and international restrictions, limiting the private sector's access to credit.
The United States, the European Union, and Canada have imposed financial and economic sanctions on Burma. US sanctions,
prohibiting most financial transactions with Burmese entities, impose travel bans on senior Burmese military and civilian leaders and
others connected to the ruling regime, and ban imports of Burmese products. These sanctions affect the country's fledgling garment
industry, isolate the struggling banking sector, and raise the costs of doing business with Burmese companies, particularly firms tied
to Burmese regime leaders. Remittances from overseas Burmese workers - who had provided significant financial support for their
families - have driven the Ministry of Finance to license domestic banks to carry out overseas operations. In 2011 the government
took initial steps toward reforming and opening up the economy by lowering export taxes, easing restrictions on its financial sector,
and reaching out to international organizations for assistance. Although the Burmese government has good economic relations with
its neighbors, significant improvements in economic governance, the business climate, and the political situation are needed to
promote serious foreign investment.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Burma)
The current Head of State is Senior General Than Shwe who holds the title of "Chairman of the State Peace and Development
Council." His appointed prime minister was Khin Nyunt until 19 October 2004, when he was forcibly deposed in favor of Gen. Soe
Win. Almost all cabinet offices are held by military officers.
US and European government sanctions against the military government, combined with consumer boycotts and shareholder
pressure organized by Free Burma activists, have succeeded in forcing most western corporations to withdraw from Burma.
However, some western oil companies remain due to loopholes in the sanctions. For example, the French oil company Total S.A.
and the American oil company Chevron continue to operate the Yadana natural gas pipeline from Burma to Thailand. Total
(formerly TotalFinaElf) is the subject of a lawsuit in French and Belgian courts for alleged complicity in human rights abuses along
the gas pipeline. Before it was acquired by Chevron, Unocal settled a similar lawsuit for a reported multi-million dollar amount.
Asian businesses, such as Daewoo, continue to invest in Burma, particularly in natural resource extraction.
The junta faces increasing international isolation. Burma's situation was referred to the UN (United Nations) Security Council for the
first time in December 2005 for an informal consultation. ASEAN has also stated its frustration with Burma's government. However,
China and Russia continue to support the junta. Both countries vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Burma in January 2007.
An election was held in 2010. The military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party declared victory. The United Nations
and Western countries have condemned the elections as fraudulent.The pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi was released
from house arrest on 13 November 2010. After her release, she held a series of dialogues with President Thein Sein and Minister
Aung Kyi.The 2011–2012 Burmese democratic reforms are an ongoing series of political, economic and administrative reforms in
Burma undertaken by the military-backed government. These reforms include the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi from house arrest and subsequent dialogues with her, establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, general
amnesties of more than 200 political prisoners, institution of new labour laws that allow labour unions and strikes, relaxation of press
censorship, and regulations of currency practices. As a consequence of the reforms, ASEAN has approved Burma's bid for the
chairmanship in 2014. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Burma on 1 December 2011, to encourage further
progress; it was the first visit by a Secretary of State in more than fifty years. United States President Barack Obama visited one
year later, becoming the first US president to visit the country. Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, participated in
by-elections held on 1 April 2012 after the government abolished laws that led to the NLD's boycott of the 2010 general election.
She led the NLD in winning the by-elections in a landslide, winning 41 out of 44 of the contested seats, with Suu Kyi herself winning
a seat representing Kawhmu Constituency in the lower house of the Burmese Parliament. However, uncertainties exist as some
other political prisoners have not been released and clashes between Burmese troops and local insurgent groups continue.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Burma
Over half of Burma's population consists of diverse ethnic groups who have substantial numbers of kin in neighboring countries; the
Naf river on the border with Bangladesh serves as a smuggling and illegal transit route; Bangladesh struggles to accommodate
29,000 Rohingya, Burmese Muslim minority from Arakan State, living as refugees in Cox's Bazar; Burmese border authorities are
constructing a 200 km (124 mi) wire fence designed to deter illegal cross-border transit and tensions from the military build-up
along border with Bangladesh in 2010; Bangladesh referred its maritime boundary claims with Burma and India to the International
Tribunal on the Law of the Sea; Burmese forces attempting to dig in to the largely autonomous Shan State to rout local militias tied
to the drug trade, prompts local residents to periodically flee into neighboring Yunnan Province in China; fencing along the
India-Burma international border at Manipur's Moreh town is in progress to check illegal drug trafficking and movement of militants;
140,000 mostly Karen refugees fleeing civil strife, political upheaval and economic stagnation in Burma live in remote camps in
Thailand near the border
IDPs: more than 450,000 (government offensives against armed ethnic minority groups near its borders with China and Thailand)
Remains world's second-largest producer of illicit opium with an estimated production in 2008 of 340 metric tons, an increase of
26%, and cultivation in 2008 was 22,500 hectares, a 4% increase from 2007; production in the United Wa State Army's areas
of greatest control remains low; Shan state is the source of 94% of poppy cultivation; lack of government will to take on major
narco-trafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort;
major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption; currently under Financial Action Task Force
countermeasures due to continued failure to address its inadequate money-laundering controls (2008)
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Burma
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Burma’s government is headed by President Thein Sein; the military-run State Peace and Development Council was officially dissolved in
2011, although former and active military officers continued to wield authority at each level of government. In November 2010 the then-
military regime held the country’s first parliamentary elections since 1990, which were neither free nor fair. The government’s main
party, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), claimed an overwhelming majority of seats in the national parliament
and state/regional assemblies. Military security forces report to military channels, and civilian security forces, such as the police, report
to a nominally civilian ministry headed by an active-duty military general.
Significant developments during the year included the emergence of a legislature that allowed opposition parties to contribute
substantively to debates; democratic reforms such as the amendment of laws allowing opposition parties to register and Aung San Suu
Kyi to announce her bid for Parliament; the release of hundreds of political prisoners; the relaxation of a number of censorship controls,
the opening of some space in society for the expression of dissent; and an easing of restrictions on some internal and foreign travel for
Significant human rights problems in the country persisted, including military attacks against ethnic minorities in border states, which
resulted in civilian deaths, forced relocations, sexual violence, and other serious abuses. The government also continued to detain
hundreds of political prisoners. Abuses of prisoners continued, including the alleged transfer of civilian prisoners to military units. These
units reportedly were often engaged in armed conflict in the border areas where they were forced to carry supplies, clear mines, and
serve as human shields.
Government security forces were responsible for extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture. The government detained civic activists
indefinitely and without charges. The government abused some prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life-threatening
conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. The government infringed
on citizens’ privacy and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government impeded
the work of many domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). International NGOs continued to encounter a
difficult--although somewhat improved--environment. Recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and
trafficking in persons--particularly of women and girls--continued. Forced labor, including that of children, persisted.
The government generally did not take action to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses, with a few isolated
exceptions. Abuses continued with impunity. Rampant corruption and the absence of due process undermined the rule of law.
Ethnic armed groups also committed human rights abuses, including forced labor and recruitment of child soldiers.
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14 March 2012
Committee on the Rights of the Child
16 January–3 February 2012
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention
Concluding observations: Myanmar
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the combined third and fourth periodic report of the State party (CRC/C/MMR/3-4) and
the written replies to its list of issues (CRC/C/MMR/Q/3-4/Add.1). The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue held with a
cross-sectoral delegation of the State party.
II. Follow-up measures undertaken and progress achieved by the State party
3. The Committee notes as positive the adoption of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law in 2005.
4. The Committee also welcomes the ratification of or accession to the following international human rights treaties:
(a) Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, in
(b) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2011; and
(c) Charter of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in 2008.
III. Main areas of concerns and recommendations
A. General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6 of the Convention)
The Committee’s previous recommendations
7. The Committee, while welcoming the State party’s efforts to address some of the concerns and recommendations made upon
consideration of the State party’s second report (CRC/C/15/Add.237), notes with regret that most of its recommendations have been
insufficiently addressed or not addressed at all.
8. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to address the recommendations from the concluding
observations of the second periodic report that have not been implemented, particularly those related to children involved in armed
conflicts, discrimination and access to health and education. The Committee also urges the State party to, concomitantly, provide
adequate follow-up to the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations
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Freedom House Condemns Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters in Burma
Nov 29 2012 - 11:54am
Freedom House condemns the violent crackdown against peaceful protesters at the Letpadaung copper mining site in Sagaing Division,
Burma and calls on the government of Burma to immediately halt its use of violence and arbitrary detention against peoples exercising
their right to peacefully assemble.
At 3 a.m. this morning, riot police raided six protester camps at the Letpadaung copper mine, using water cannons, tear gas, and fire
bombs to disperse protesters, including Buddhist monks and local villagers. According to reports, at least 80 people were injured, many
with severe burns inflicted by the incendiaries used by the police. Many demonstrators have fled into the forest in fear of continued
The violent crackdown marks a dramatic escalation of months-long intimidation aimed at disbanding the protests. Since February of this
year, local villagers, Buddhist monks, land rights and environmental activists have been staging peaceful sit-in protests against land
grabbing, forced evictions, and environmental degradation caused by the mining project, which is a joint venture between Chinese
companies Wanbao Mining Ltd. and Yang Tze Copper Ltd., and Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd., a company owned by the
Despite recent reforms, Burmese authorities continue to threaten and arrest those who speak out against continuing human rights abuses
in the country. Even while the government of Burma is releasing political prisoners to curry favor internationally, at least 200 cases of
arbitrary detention have been documented this year and the actual number of arrests is likely far higher. Such actions serve only to
impede the reform process and hamper relations with many concern parties who, while encouraged by recent progress, remain deeply
concerned about human rights issues in Burma.
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15 January 2013
Myanmar: Protect civilians caught in the Kachin state conflict, investigate attacks
Myanmar must take all possible steps to avoid civilian casualties in Kachin state, Amnesty International said after three people were killed
in air strikes which were reportedly carried out by the armed forces in the region.
The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) equally must ensure that they do not position potential military targets near civilian areas, and that
they fully respect international humanitarian law.
On 14 January, three civilians including one young teenager were killed in an air strike which was reportedly carried out by the Myanmar
armed forces in the Kachin town of Laiza. Four others, two children and two women, were injured in the same attack.
Laiza, a town on the border with China, is used as the de facto headquarters of the KIA.
“Both the army and the KIA must ensure that civilians caught in the conflict area are protected. The three tragic deaths in Laiza shows
that there are real concerns that civilian lives might be at risk if indiscriminate fire is used,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’
s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.
“We urge the Myanmar authorities to immediately launch an investigation into the attack on 14 January and to determine if international
laws of war were violated.”
The current conflict between the Myanmar army and the KIA started in June 2011 after a 17-year ceasefire broke down, and the fighting
started to intensify in November 2012.
The KIA, the military wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) are calling for increased Kachin autonomy and is the only
significant armed group in Myanmar which the authorities have failed to reach a ceasefire agreement with.
In December 2012, the army launched a new operation in Kachin state. Military helicopters and aeroplanes have been flying low over
camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and towns in the KIA-controlled area since early January, which is causing extreme fear
amongst civilians, including people in camps and children.
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A bridge too far for Obama, crossed too early, in Myanmar
by David Scott Mathieson
Published in: Public Service Europe
November 18, 2012
Barack Obama's visit to Myanmar, the first by a sitting American president, is predominantly symbolic but he's going for all the right
reasons at the wrong time.The ostensible rationale for the trip is to acknowledge and further encourage nascent reforms embarked on by
Myanmar's President Thein Sein since March 2011, which have evinced widespread optimism that Myanmar has taken a genuine turn
away from decades of harsh military-authoritarian rule. United States government policy on Myanmar during the past year's openings
has contained calibrated support and continued criticism over the country's continuing human rights situation. Among Naypyidaw's
reforms have seen the release of over 300 political prisoners, the convening of parliament, greater press freedoms, the return of exiled
political activists and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.
Less tangible have been promises of economic and legal reforms, and the extremely fragile start of peace talks with a dozen ethnic armed
groups that have waged internecine war with the central state for decades. Washington responded with a premature, some would say
hasty, removal of US sanctions that should have been gradually repealed in line with demonstrable steps to reform. Diplomatic moves
included a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a year ago and the installation of the first US ambassador in Rangoon in more than
20 years. On the aid side, United States Agency for International Development has significantly increased much needed humanitarian
And now even the Pentagon is getting into the act, starting an increased military discourse with Burma's still powerful and abusive
defence services. While Clinton and the State Department deserve recognition for their efforts in responding to reform signals from
Myanmar's ruling clique, now Obama's visit proclaims Burma as an almost unalloyed foreign policy success of his first term. The
presidential visit will be limited to the former capital Yangon, where he will meet with Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi. He will also deliver a major speech on US relations with Burma and, perhaps, the larger challenges of promoting human rights in
Asia. The risk is that such a brief appearance could go long on pyrrhic and pull up short on principle.
There is a fine line between encouraging the reform process and inadvertently emboldening further bad behaviour by extant forces within
Myanmar's military-parliamentary complex that have benefited from the optimistic engagement of the US, European Union and other
governments - and their business communities - without necessarily improving their behaviour. Obama's speech will have to balance
encouragement for progress while confronting some unpleasant facts that serve as dark clouds over the reform effort. Sectarian
violence in Rakhine State has resulted in hundreds of deaths and more than 100,000 internally displaced persons, and renewed waves of
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President U Thein Sein delivered an address at the 67th United Nations General Assembly
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NAY P YI T AW, 27 Sept 2012
Myanmar consistently pursues an independent and active foreign policy. One of the basic tenets of our foreign policy is to actively
contribute towards the maintenance of international peace and security. In so doing, we encourage efforts to settle differences among
nations by peaceful and amicable means. This position of ours matches well with the essence of one of the high-level themes of the
current session, namely, “Settlement of disputes by Peaceful Coordination or Means.”
Myanmar is making progress on her democratic path. But this has not been an easy task. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity
to share our experiences in this regard.
In the ongoing reform process, we are facing challenges as well as opportunities. Within a short time, the people of Myanmar have been
able to bring about amazing changes. I feel greatly privileged and honoured to dutifully serve the people as their President at this crucial
time in the history of our nation. I truly take my people as my own parents and elders.
After taking office about 18 months ago, the Parliament, the Judiciary, the Armed Forces, the national races, political parties, civil
societies and the people at large have been taking tangible irreversible steps in the democratic transition and reform process. Leaving
behind a system of authoritarian government wherein the executive, legislative and judicial powers were centralized, we have now been
able to put in place a democratic government and a strong, viable parliament following a practice of check and balance.
Despite the challenges, we can now witness encouraging progress and significant developments in the country. They include granting of
amnesties to prisoners; the coming back with dignity of the exiled political forces; the successful convening of 2012 by-elections in a
free, fair and transparent manner, the abolition of censorship of media, the fourth estate; freedom of internet access; the establishment of
workers’ and employers’ organizations and the increased participation of the people in the political process.
At the current stage of the political process, we can witness the emergence of democratic characteristics such as increasing of
participation from different political forces and their mutual tolerance, the magnanimity, expansion of the scope of political participation
of an representation and the accountability. Our government and other stakeholders have now been able to foster a new political culture
of patience and dialogue.
I am well aware of the fact that Myanmar’s democratic transformation process would be a complex and delicate one that requires
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Burmese man tortured to death in police custody, says family
Wednesday, 03 October 2012
The Burmese family of a 19-year-old man who died during police interrogation in a murder case was brutally tortured, they said, and
they are seeking justice in the case.
Officers at the Mayangone police station allegedly illegally detained the young man and after two days notified his family that he had died
in custody due to illness, said the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
When the family saw the body, they observed that he had been brutally tortured on the legs, face and back, said AHRC in an account of
the case posted on its website on Wednesday.
The police have since arrested another person over the murder and have meanwhile denied that they were responsible for the man’s
death. The family of the young man is pushing for the case to be brought to court, but so far the police have successfully resisted their
efforts, said ACHR.
The ACHR said that on June 28 a 19-year-old flower seller, Ma Poe Poe Mon, was murdered in Mayangone Township, Rangoon. A
week later, police from the township station arrested Myo Myint Swe, a carpenter of the same age, at his residence and accused him of
Subsequently, on July 6, his mother, Sein Sein, and his cousin, Ko Soe Lin, were also taken to the same police station without a court
According to testimony from Sein Sein, while being held in custody for three days she was fed only once daily. The cousin, Ko Soe Lin,
was interrogated and tortured. Both of them were set free on July 8 and on the same day the district police commander informed Sein
Sein that her son had died from illness during interrogation.
The family members took photographs of his body after a post mortem examination and the pictures show signs that he had been
severely tortured, said ACHR. It said scars and bruising from the rolling of a rubber or bamboo stick or similar instrument across his
legs, a common form of torture in Burma, could be seen clearly.
The other photographs show that the man’s right cheek and forehead are heavily bruised and swollen, as is the left jaw and lower cheek.
The neck of the deceased is black with bruising, and scars and bruises are obvious on his shoulders and back, said ACHR.
The doctor who conducted the post mortem on the body recorded on July 23 that the victim had died due to a heart attack.
The ACHR said the victim's family tried to open a case against the commander of the Bayinnaung Police Station and the interrogators for
murder, at the East Dagon Police Station on July 27, and at the Bayinnaung Police Station on July 28, but neither station would accept
Daw Sein Sein in August sent complaint letters to the director general of the Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs and the
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, urging that the case be investigated properly and charges brought against the perpetrators
in accordance with the law. At the time of the ACHR article, it said to its knowledge no reply had been received.
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Human Rights Subject to be Added in Basic Education Curriculums
Originally appeared in Weekly Eleven
January 13, 2013
Human rights subject will be added into the basic education system of Myanmar, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission told
the Eleven Media.
The curriculums of the elementary, middle and high level of the basic schools will be advanced putting the human rights courses as the
The plan is cooperated between Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Education.
The schools have already taught the knowledge of human values for some decades, the commission said, “We are now initiating to
promote this as a subject.”
Myanmar primary school children have to learn the 38 Codes of Behaviour known as the Discourse on Great Auspices and instructed by
the Lord Buddha, how to live as an invaluable human being – respect, esteem and admire between each other no matter how different in
race, status or ethnic is.
“The teaching of these behavioural conducts is meant for human rights programme,” said Sitt Myaing, the secretary of the commission,
adding that the human rights are too wide to be scoped.
He said many supporting and assistances need to this program. Not only the theoretical knowledge, but also the news and information in
aspect of human rights give to the schools.
Physical education, aesthetic enjoyment, codes of behaviour, domestic chores knowledge and general knowledge in social, science and
behaviour are the minor subjects at the primary and middle schools in Myanmar.
However, teaching of these minor subjects is a little weak in schools at the moment.
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President since 4 February 2011
Current situation: Burma is a source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and
commercial sexual exploitation; Burmese women and children are trafficked to East and Southeast Asia for commercial sexual
exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor; Burmese children are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Thailand as
hawkers, beggars, and for work in shops, agriculture, fish processing, and small-scale industries; women are trafficked for
commercial sexual exploitation to Malaysia and China; some trafficking victims transit Burma from Bangladesh to Malaysia and from
China to Thailand; trafficking within Burma is a significant phenomenon occurring primarily from villages to urban centers and
economic hubs for labor in industrial zones, agricultural estates, and commercial sexual exploitation; military and civilian officials
continue to use a significant amount of forced labor; ethnic insurgent groups also used compulsory labor of adults and unlawful
recruitment of children; the military junta's gross economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor
are the top causal factors for Burma's significant trafficking problem
Tier rating: Tier 3 - serious problems remain, most notably in the area of forced labor, and the Government of Burma is not
making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; military and civilian officials remain
directly involved in forced labor and the unlawful conscription of child soldiers, with reported cases of child soldiers increasing
annually; in some areas, particularly the international trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation, the
Government of Burma is making significant efforts; available data indicated an increase in law enforcement efforts in 2008 and a
considerable increase in budget allocation for anti-trafficking activities (2010)
Sai Mouk Kham
Vice President since 3 February 2011