The 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council today passed, by consensus, resolution 28/21 entitled ‘Situation of Human Rights Myanmar’ and extended by one year the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar […]March 27, 2015 | By Forum-Asia | Tags: 2008 Constitution, Burma Partnership, Equality Myanmar, Forum-Asia, Special Rapporteur, United Nations Human Rights Council, Yanghee Lee | Read more >>
The persecution of the students and their supporters shows no sign of abating as around a hundred are still locked up and others are in hiding as authorities hunt them down. Meanwhile their supporters are being intimidated across Burma by intelligence unit, Special Branch, as well as administration and immigration authorities. Perhaps fittingly, this was occurring while the Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, was giving her report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, where she highlighted “continuing challenges indicating worrying signs of backtracking on key human rights issues.” We must thank Ms. Yanghee Lee for bringing the multitude of human rights abuses to the attention of the member states in a comprehensive report, especially in the light of the sexist abuse she has been subjected to by extremist monks in Burma.
Of over 100 students and supporters arrested and imprisoned after a brutal crackdown by police and hired thugs in Letpadan, Pegu Region on 10 March 2015, around eighty remain in Tharyawaddy prison. While 127 is the official number of arrests on March 10, there were at least 10 more arrested following the Letpadan crackdown in Rangoon, Dawei, and the Irrawaddy area. Families have been denied access to visit their sons and daughters, with guards refusing to let them in to speak to them or deliver basic items, nor do they receive regular updates on their health. Furthermore, some are still in hiding as the authorities are searching houses using the 2012 enacted, “Ward or Village Tract Inspection Law.” This law, highlighted by Fortify Rights this week in their report, “Midnight Intrusions: Ending Guest Registration and Household Inspections in Myanmar” stipulates that homeowners need to register any house guests with local authorities. This gives the police carte blanche to enter any persons home at any time, superficially to conduct a periodic household inspection. It is used to target political activists and is being used now in their hunt for the students in hiding.March 23, 2015 | Tags: Burma Partnership, National Education Law | Read more >>
8th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council Oral Statement Delivered by Khin Ohmar on behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) […]March 16, 2015 | By Forum-Asia and Khin Ohmar | Tags: Burma Partnership, Forum-Asia, Khin Ohmar, Letpadan, National Education Law, Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, Penal Code, Special Rapporteur | Read more >>
The month of February saw sustained and widespread industrial action at garment factories in Rangoon’s industrial zones, with thousands of striking workers demanding better pay and working conditions. Yet the authorities, along with influential private sector interests, have sought to quell the demonstrations without addressing the fundamental flaws in this burgeoning sector, resorting to force and underhand methods as they have done for decades.
The main strikes occurred at E-Land Myanmar, Costec, Tai Yi, Red Stone and Ford Glory factories, located in Shwepyithar and Hlaingtharyar industrial zones. While there are variations in demands across the factories, one which was consistent among the strikers was a pay increase of 30,000 kyat ($30) per month. The average wage of a worker in a garment factory in Rangoon is around 80,000 ($80) per month. This is not a living wage and barely enough to survive, while a complex system of overtime and bonuses means that basic wages are extremely low, thus forcing workers to work an extra three hours per day, as well as on weekends, to make ends meet […]March 2, 2015 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: Burma Partnership, Garment Industry, Myanmar Garment Manufacture's Association, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights | Read more >>
Amid the various serious issues currently dominating the headlines about Burma – including the upcoming elections, the escalation in fighting between the Burma Army and ethnic armies, the recent crackdown on workers’ protests, this year’s student marches, and ongoing religious tensions – it is important that people do not lose sight of the land issue. Like other developing South-East Asian countries, Burma is grappling with the sticky and complex problems of land ownership, rights and use. As is often the case, it is the poor and marginalized communities who are most vulnerable to exploitation and human rights abuses, particularly small-scale farmers in Burma’s beleaguered ethnic regions.
This month Human Rights Foundation of Monland-Burma (HURFOM) released a report titled “Yearning to be Heard: Mon Farmers’ Continued Struggle for Acknowledgement and Protection of their Rights” – a follow-up to their 2013 report “Disputed Territory: Mon Farmers’ Fight Against Unjust Land Acquisition and Barriers to Their Progress.” It argues that “continuing barriers to progress lie primarily in the country’s broken land management system, the failures of recent land laws to secure the protection of farmers’ land rights, the failure of government bodies and authorities to perform their responsibilities unbiased from military influence, and the total impunity of the military due to the independent structure of the courts-martial.” A salient example of such impunity, mentioned in the report, is the confiscation of more than 2,000 acres of rubber plantation in Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, over the past year. Regrettably, such land rights abuses betray the paltry extent to which the Burma Government is able to influence the Burma Army and rein in its illegal activities […]February 23, 2015 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: Burma Army, Burma Government, Burma Partnership, Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Land Confiscation, Mon State, National Land Use Policy, Transnational Institute | Read more >>
For anyone who believes that the peace process in Burma is making progress, the recent escalation and heavy fighting in northern Shan State and Kachin State, as well as the Union Day deed of commitment signing farce, only goes to show that faith in the ability and commitment of the Burma Government to secure a sustainable peace deal is misguided.
Union Day falls on 12 February, and is the anniversary of the Panglong Agreement signed between General Aung San, and Chin, Kachin and Shan ethnic leaders, an agreement that promised autonomy to the ethnic regions. It has been a reference point for ethnic nationalities ever since, and is symbolic of the possibility of a federal union within Burma whereby the rights of ethnic people are protected […]February 16, 2015 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: Burma Army, Burma Partnership, Burmese Union Day, Ceasefire ethnic armed groups, General Aung San, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Panglong Agreement, President Thein Sein | Read more >>
In Burma Partnership’s 2014 end-of-year review, we identified the role of student unions in Burma’s political affairs as one of the more notable and inspiring developments of 2014: “Burma’s students were always at the center of major democracy movements throughout history – most notably in 1988 – and have now made a comeback.” Furthermore, we declared that “it is the students that represent the greatest hope for the people of Burma – and the greatest threat to the Burma Government. It is vital that their progressive voice continues to be heard.” Indeed, these forecasts have been borne out, as January 2015 has seen the student movement go from strength to strength.
The underlying catalyst for this burgeoning student movement – and wider public support for it – is the overwhelming conclusion that Burma’s so-called reforms have now hit crisis point. Objections started with more “big picture” accusations that the political reforms initiated in 2011 have proven to be fake, accusations that are now crystallizing into fears that the national elections slated for later this year will be fixed, postponed or cancelled. More recently, students have honed in on specific issues, most notably education reform, land rights abuses, and violent responses to peaceful protests on the part of the authorities. […]February 2, 2015 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: Burma Partnership, National Education Law, Peaceful Protest | Read more >>
The ongoing dispute between local villagers and the Burma Government and Wanbao, a Chinese mining company, over land grabs and environmental damage continues to rumble on as police shot dead Daw Khin Win as she was demonstrating against the controversial Letpadaung mining project in Sagaing Region. Meanwhile, the police continue to arrest and detain activists who speak out against such violence on politically motivated charges, underlining the dire need for legal and judicial reform and the complete lack of the rule of law in Burma […]January 12, 2015 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: Arbitrary Detention, Burma Army, Burma Government, Burma Partnership, Chinese, Judiciary, Khin Win, Legal Reform, Letpadaung Copper Mine, National Reconciliation, Norico, Sagaing Region, Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd., Wanbao Mining Ltd. | Read more >>
After the 2010 elections and during the early days of the reform process, President U Thein Sein’s Government invited Burma/Myanmar diaspora communities, including exiled activists and political forces from different parts of the world who left the country for various reasons, to return to their motherland […]December 18, 2014 | By Burma Partnership and Assistance Association for Political Prisoners and Equality Myanmar | Tags: Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Burma Partnership, Diaspora, Equality Myanmar, Exiled, National Registration Card, President Thein Sein, United Nations General Assembly | Read more >>
As we count down the remaining days of 2014, Burma Partnership takes a look back at what 2014 has offered. It has been nearly four years since President Thein Sein’s administration took office, and now is the time to digest all the developments during his presidency, to assess what the so-called reform process has really meant for the people of Burma thus far. And now is the time to properly examine this new political landscape and to determine who is who.
By the time the reforms were announced, everything was already set in motion to ensure that the reform process was controlled and manipulated by members of the old military regime. Looking at the notorious 2008 Constitution, the institutionalized prescription of 25 per cent of the seats in Parliament for military representatives, the dominance of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the excessive power of the Burma Army and the National Defense and Security Council, and the growing investment of the State and affiliated business cronies in the media sector, it is not hard to conclude that a new system of repressive governance has been installed – by the same people who were once considered one of the most brutal and authoritarian regimes in the world.
However, it is important to remain hopeful. Although the new political landscape has contributed to the sophistication of old problems and the development of new problems, it has also offered Burma people new opportunities. One of the most inspiring aspects of the political developments in 2014 has been the reinstatement of the role of student unions in the country’s political affairs. Burma’s students were always at the center of major democracy movements throughout history – most notably in 1988 – and have now made a comeback. […]December 17, 2014 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: 2008 Constitution, Action Committee for Democratic Education, All Burma Federation of Students’ Unions, Burma Army, Burma Government, Burma Parliament, Burma Partnership, National Defense and Security Council, National Education Bill, President Thein Sein, students, Union Solidarity and Development Party | Read more >>