Burma Must End Repression of Ethnic Minorities: Amnesty
16 February 2010: London-based international rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has today urged Burma’s ruling military regime to end repression of ethnic minorities before the elections scheduled to he held later this year.
In the most comprehensive report yet on the situation of ethnic minority groups, Amnesty accuses Burma’s military regime of arresting, torturing and killing ethnic political activists, and calls on Burmese authorities to lift restrictions on freedom of association, assembly and religion in the run-up to the elections.
The 58-page report, “Repression of ethnic minority activists in [Burma],” also calls on Burma’s neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China to put pressures on the military regime to ensure that the people of Burma will be able to freely express their opinions, gather peacefully, and participate openly in the political process.
Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty’s Burma’s expert said, “Any resolution of the country’s deeply troubling human rights record has to take into account the rights and aspirations of the country’s large population of ethnic minorities,” noting that the ethnic nationalities constitute about 40 percent of the country’s population, and form the majority in the seven ethnic states.
“The government of Myanmar should use the elections as an opportunity to improve its human rights record, not as a spur to increase repression of dissenting voices, especially those from the ethnic minorities,” said Benjamin Zawacki.
Amnesty says the report was a result of a two-year investigation since 2007 and draws on accounts from more than 700 activists from the seven largest ethnic minorities, including the Rakhine, Shan, Kachin, and Chin.
The London-based rights watchdog has documented serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity by the ruling military regime in the context of the Burma army’s campaigns against ethnic minority insurgent groups and civilians.