Human Rights Abuses Worsened in Ethnic Areas: UK
12 July 2012: The situation of human rights abuses in some ethnic areas of Burma gets worse despite reforms taking place in the country, a report by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
The Human Rights and Democracy report published on 10 July highlights the ongoing human rights violations, stating: “There is more work to be done to address the serious human rights concerns that remain.”
It also stressed on clashes and conflicts in ethnic areas such as Kachin, Shan and Karen States, saying hostilities continued and nearly 50,000 people had been internally displaced from Kachin State by the end of 2011.
For decades, Burma Army soldiers stationed in ethnic areas have been accused of repeatedly committing rape and sexual violence against ethnic women as part of an ‘unwritten’ policy of ethnic cleansing.
“We have continued to receive reports of gender-based violence by the military in conflict areas; the Burmese government has done little to investigate these cases,” the report stressed.
Regarding freedom of expression in Burma, the report said of the continuation of heavy censorship on some topics, including direct criticism of the government and references to certain historical events.
Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK, said: “Burma Campaign UK welcomes this report and the fact that the British government has become the first to acknowledge that in some ethnic areas the situation has got worse, not better, under Thein Sein’s government.”
In Chin State, a series of human rights violations still take place with recent incidents including destruction of a Christian cross in Mualbem of Tedim Township in April, attacks on Christian worshipers by Buddhist youths in May and interruption of Christian conference with a Chin MP being threatened at gunpoint by soldiers in March this year.
The report acknowledged that minority rights remained perhaps Burma’s greatest challenge, requiring an inclusive and credible process of national reconciliation, involving political dialogue and, most likely, constitutional amendments, along with economic development to address existing inequalities.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang