(27 April 2015) Today, Burma Link and Burma Partnership launches a joint briefing paper, Voices of Refugees – Situation of Burma’s Refugees Along the Thailand-Burma Border, online. The briefing paper highlights how the voices of refugees continue to be neglected in Burma’s reform process […]April 27, 2015 | By Burma Partnership and Burma Link | Tags: ASEAN, ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum 2015, Burma Link, Burma Partnership, Displacement, Internally Displaced People, Refugees, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights | Read more >>
The joint briefing paper by Burma Link and Burma Partnership, Voices of Refugees – Situation of Burma’s Refugees Along the Thailand-Burma Border, which was published online on 27 April 2015, highlights how the voices of refugees continue to be neglected in Burma’s reform process […]April 27, 2015 | By Burma Partnership and Burma Link | Tags: Burma Link, Burma Partnership, Displacement, Internally Displaced People, Refugees, UN High Commissioner for Refugees | Read more >>
Today, Tuesday 21 April 2015, is the first anniversary of the death of U Win Tin – journalist, democracy activist, founding member of the NLD, and one of Burma’s most high profile and respected political prisoners who spent over 19 years in prison. When he was eventually released in 2008, he refused to hand back his blue prison shirt, and vowed to wear a blue shirt every day until all political prisoners were released, saying: “If there are no political prisoners … I will take off my shirt, but up until now I haven’t seen good indications.” Sadly, despite the many promises made by President Thein Sein to release all political prisoners, U Win Tin continued wearing a blue shirt until the day he died, one year ago.
In fact, the number of political prisoners has increased markedly over the last year. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, as at the end of March, 173 political prisoners remained incarcerated in Burma, with a further 316 activists awaiting trial for conducting political activities. Furthermore, students, garment workers, farmers and journalists have all borne the brunt of the state’s repression. In March alone, 92 people were charged for their civil and political rights activities, with 31 arrested and seven sentenced, mostly as a result of the well-documented student protests in Letpadan and Rangoon in early March […]April 20, 2015 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: Burma Partnership, U Win Tin | Read more >>
Peace talks resumed after a six month hiatus between the Burma Governments’ Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC) and the alliance of ethnic armed groups, the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT). Yet in an extraordinary display of hypocrisy, the Burma Army began airstrikes again against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), just as the talks paused for a week-long break. This is to complement the airstrikes currently targeting the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in northern Shan State.
The Burma Government, through its proxies the UPWC and the Myanmar Peace Center, consistently attempts to dominate the discourse surrounding the peace talks, eschewing positive conclusions whenever talks happen. Time and time again the media is told that the signing of a nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA) is ‘just round the corner,’ or in this case, ‘within days.’ How can the signing of the NCA be within days if the Burma Army has opened two fronts on its war against ethnic armed groups? Furthermore, although the MNDAA is part of the NCCT, they have been excluded from the most recent peace talks, with the Government and the Burma Army steadfastly refusing to consider any method of engagement with them apart from through military means. There needs to be honesty from the government on the realities of the prospects for peace so that parties concerned, including the donors and civil society, are able to contribute and help steer the process instead of losing trust in it […]March 30, 2015 | By Burma Partnership | Tags: Burma Army, Burma Partnership, Conflict, EU, Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, Union Peace making Work Committee | Read more >>
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 >>