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Posts Tagged ‘Burma Partnership’

Poorly Planned Census in Disarray as Calls for Postponement Grow Stronger

hlegu-mob april 5 2014 JPaing:IrrawaddyEnumerators arrived in Arakan State on Sunday, 30 March in the company of three hundred armed policemen who were brought into the area in several army trucks to conduct the nationwide survey. The first national census since 1983 should be vital in planning the nation’s needs in health, education and development. However, the census has triggered violence in Arakan State, as humanitarian aid offices were raided, aid workers fled, local aid workers threatened not to assist the Rohingya, and aid to the Rohingya communities living in internally displaced camps has halted.

So far three people – two under the age of five – have died as a result of the absence of medical care and food prices are soaring as water and food becomes scarce. The Burma government has rescinded their commitment to allow Rohingya’s to self-identify, folding under pressure from Arakanese Buddhists to boycott the census.  The tension in Arakan State is spreading throughout Burma as an anti-Muslim riot took place in a town on the outskirts of Rangoon, where an angry Buddhist mob pelted Muslim-owned properties with stones[...]

April 8, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , | Read more >>

Facilitating Hate from the Highest Levels of Power

By Facebook Myanmar Police Force IrrawaddyThe situation in Arakan State is deteriorating rapidly as extremist monks continue to spread hate speech and incite violence against the Muslim community with impunity. With the upcoming census set to inflame tensions over the issue of Rohingya, Arakanese nationalists have been exacerbating these tensions by campaigning for the census to be changed. Such protests descended into violence as United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) offices were ransacked and aid workers forced to flee. Meanwhile, at the national level, highly discriminatory laws are being drafted by certain ministries to be presented to Parliament.

The leader of the extremist Buddhist 969 movement, Wirathu, has been whipping up anti-Muslim fervor among the local Arakanese Buddhist population, demanding that the UN-planned census be changed. The All Rakhine Committee for the Census (ARCC) had threatened a state-wide boycott of the census due to the option for Rohingya to identify themselves as Rohingya.  Adding to the tension has been the antagonism towards international relief and UN agencies for allegedly favouring Rohingya Muslims in their work. This is, of course, a preposterous claim given that such organizations engage in service provision for those who need it most, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation, with the majority of such victims happening to be Rohingya. This fervor came to a head as mobs descended on UN and NGO offices in the state capital, Sittwe, late last week [...]

April 1, 2014 | Tags: , , , , | Read more >>

Open Letter from Myanmar/Burma civil society to the Member States of the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the situation of human rights in Myanmar/Burma

Member States United Nations Human Rights Council Palais des Nations CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland Excellencies, We, a diverse range of civil society organizations from Myanmar/Burma, are writing to you in advance of the upcoming 25th regular session in Geneva to express our serious concerns about the lack of progress made regarding the situation of human […]

March 17, 2014 | Tags: | Read more >>

Despite End-of-Year Amnesty, Political Prisoner Issue Casts Shadow Over 2014

Political Prisoner Release from Insein July 2013 by JPaing IrrawaddyTo casual Burma observers, President Thein Sein may appear to have fulfilled his promise to British Prime Minister David Cameron on 15 July 2013 that all political prisoners in Burma would be released by the end of 2013. After all, political prisoners were freed throughout 2013, culminating in two “final” releases on 11 December (41 released) and 31 December (16 released). The motive is not hard to discern: such high profile releases play into the current “good news” narrative on Burma. The international community, hungrily eyeing up Burma’s huge potential as an untapped frontier market of boundless investment opportunities, cheap labor and vast natural resources, tends to lap up such reports without examining the narrative more carefully.
Inevitably the narrative is not so simple. The most prominent criticism of the Burma government’s policy towards political prisoners in 2013 was that it was releasing some, while all the time arresting others, particularly land and community activists. This “revolving door” policy ensured that Burma’s jails were in no danger of being put out of business [...]

January 13, 2014 | Tags: , , | Read more >>

A Year of Nascent Reforms Taking Root, Challenges for Future Growth

2013 Rangoon Burma by AP2013 has been a year in which many of the nascent reforms of 2012 have begun to take root, but also one in which new challenges have emerged. In 2014, there will be many opportunities for the government of Burma to show its commitment to democratic transition.

This year saw the historic meeting of ethnic armed groups in Laiza, Kachin State, with a second due in Karen State the third week of January. Despite such important conferences, the uncertainty of the ceasefire process has had an impact on ethnic unity. After several postponements, the government is planning to hold its nationwide ceasefire in early 2014. Such a public show will not be enough to solve decades of armed conflict and ethnic inequality; the government, its Union Peace Working Committee and all ethnic armed groups must engage in a comprehensive, inclusive political dialogue with all parties on an equal footing. An independent third party mediator would help ensure that the difficult underlying issues, such as the power of the Burma Army, political power sharing between the government and ethnic nationalities, resource management, and justice for human rights abuses committed by all sides, are finally addressed and sustainable peace is achieve [...]

December 20, 2013 | Tags: | Read more >>

Japan’s Opportunity to Prove Itself a Responsible Investor in Burma

Dawei beachAs Japan deepens its economic ties with Burma at the Japan-ASEAN summit in Tokyo, civil society from Tavoy, Tenasserim Region, express concerns over investing in a huge special economic zone that has already caused widespread human rights violations.

Adding to the US$867 million in loans pledged in May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised a further US$578 million in loans for infrastructure development for the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ), as well as upgrading Burma’s railway network. Another agreement was made in which greater protections for Japanese businesses investing in Burma are established, thus creating a safer environment to explore business opportunities [...]

December 16, 2013 | Tags: , | Read more >>

Burma Uses Old Tactics to Silence the People

1460213_387980038003698_211652200_nEnact a repressive law, use thugs to crackdown, arrest and imprison protesters – it’s a strategy that never gets old for the Burmese authorities.

With the ongoing implementation of such a strategy, it has become more clear than ever that Burma does not tolerate critical voices that question the acts of the government or its cronies. The country has witnessed crackdowns and widespread and systematic arrests of peaceful demonstrators and activists throughout President Thein Sein’s term in office. Many of them have been charged under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, as well as Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code, and the number is growing every day.

The latest crackdown came on 7 December in Michaungkan Quarter of Thingungyun Township, Rangoon, where more than 200 protestors were demanding the return of land that they claimed was confiscated by the Burma Army in 1990, the time when protesting against the military regime was out of the question. At least 8 protestors were injured as a group of men in civilian clothes armed with batons who claimed to be “cleaning workers from the army” attacked the peaceful protestors. Since the protest started on 26 November, two protest leaders have been arrested and sentenced to three months in prison each. Township authorities have told the demonstrators to disband their protest site or face forceful removal [...]

December 9, 2013 | Tags: , , | Read more >>

Call for an International Legally Binding Instrument on Human Rights, Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises

We, the undersigned organisations, Concerned about the continuing abuses and violations of human rights occurring all over the world which directly or indirectly engage the responsibility of business enterprises; Concerned also that such abusive conduct often disproportionately impacts women, who comprise the majority of workers in the most vulnerable sectors, peasants, indigenous peoples, persons living […]

December 2, 2013 | Tags: , , , | Read more >>

Cooperation Needed to End Violence Against Women of Burma

VAW Day Logo from COMTo mark 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 27 civil society organizations have come together to launch 16 days of action that will end on 10 December, International Human Rights Day. The campaign began with a public ceremony in Rangoon on 24 November that included games, music and other performances. Women’s groups called for cooperation from all people of Burma to help end all forms of violence against women by participating in a “white campaign”, wearing white shirts or accessories during the 16 days to raise awareness about the problem of violence against women.

In a Burmese-language statement, the Women’s League of Burma called for the people of Burma to work together to reduce the role of the military in the governance of the country and achieve sustainable peace. The statement outlined the many different forms of violence that women face on a daily basis: physical, mental, sexual, domestic and community violence, as well as violence carried out by the Burma Army, especially in ethnic nationality areas [...]

November 25, 2013 | Tags: , , , , , | Read more >>

Modern Slavery in Rangoon’s Industrial Zones

0910-Myanmar-Workers-Protest_full_600On 14 November, a group of labor organizations and unions released the English language version of ‘Modern Slavery: A Study of Labour Conditions in Yangon’s Industrial Zones 2012-2013’. The Burmese language version was released in Rangoon on 30 October. Research into the abysmal living and working conditions in the main industrial zones of Rangoon, including Hlaingtharyar, was undertaken by Labor Rights Clinic, Cooperation Programme of Independent Labourers, Construction-based Labour Union and Workers Support Group, as well as other labor unions and activists who wish to remain anonymous.

The report underscores the many challenges that workers face in their daily lives. The typical basic wage is around US$25-US$37 per month, leaving workers little choice but to work an average 11 hours per day, 6 days per week, just to make ends meet. Many, who fail to earn enough to cover their monthly living expenses, turn to pay-day lenders, thereby trapping them in a vicious cycle of debt. A complex system of bonuses, as well as the need for overtime, means that any time taken for sickness or holiday, anything other than 100% punctuality, or any perceived under-performance, means that employers can dock significant amounts of workers’ monthly wages. The report also finds that sanitation and health standards are generally inadequate, that many people live in dirty overcrowded, factory-provided hostels, that women face sexual harassment traveling to and from work, and that factory supervisors are often harsh and ruthless [...]

November 18, 2013 | Tags: , , | Read more >>
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