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AIPMC Statement on Current Military Offensive and Rights Abuse by the Myanmar Army in Ethnic Areas

By ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus  •  July 22, 2011

Monitor recent rape cases, reject Myanmar’s bid to chair ASEAN and cut financial lifelines for despots, AIPMC urges ASEAN

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) is deeply concerned about atrocities against civilians following Myanmar Army offensives against ethnic armed groups in Shan State and Kachin State in Myanmar, notably sexual violence against women and girls, including gang-rape by order of high level officials.

Fighting in North and Eastern Myanmar has worsened since last year’s election in Myanmar. Ceasefires that had lasted almost two decades or more with the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) have already been broken by the Myanmar Army, leading to great suffering for civilians. According to Shan community based organizations, 65 battles have taken place in Shan State over the last three weeks and now thousands people are displaced inside northern Shan State. In Kachin State, more than 16,000 refugees fled to China from escalating fighting across ten townships since early June, according to the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT). In both areas, local sources report systematic sexual violence against women and girls.

The fighting is closely linked to the Myanmar government’s economic interests in the resource rich ethnic areas, including hydropower dams on the Salween and Irrawaddy Rivers and trans-national oil and gas pipelines across northern Shan State. It needs to clear out resistance forces and seize control of these areas to proceed with these projects. Moreover, Myanmar has no mechanism in place to monitor and control the impact of such extraction projects for local people. Instead, they have become excuses for the government to take control over ethnic areas and get rid of ethnic armed groups, rather than seeking a solution to underlying political problems in the country.

Severe human rights violations have already occurred in connection with these projects, including forced labor, land confiscations, torture, murder and rapes, causing an influx of refugees to neighboring countries such as Thailand and China.

“Only the military rulers of Myanmar and their business cronies will benefit from these projects, which are built on the lives, blood and tear of ordinary civilians”, said Kraisak Choonhavan, outgoing representative of the Thai parliament and AIPMC Senior Advisor in Thailand.

The current fighting comes on top of an already critical political situation in Myanmar. There has been no meaningful political progress since the elections, and the number of political prisoners in the country continues to stand at more than 2,000.

The AIPMC has monitored the situation in Myanmar’s border areas for a long time, and it has become increasingly concerned about growing political and armed conflicts since the general election.

“We call on the Myanmar Army to immediately end rights abuses, particularly the systematic use of rape as a weapon to suppress ethnic women and to urgently engage in peace talks with ethnic armed groups”, said Eva Kusuma Sundari, Member of Indonesian Parliament and President of the AIPMC.

“The challenge is on ASEAN to live up to its responsibilities to protect the people of Myanmar. A meeting between the ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting and the UN is needed to stop this human rights crisis and its negative impacts on neighboring countries and regional stability. The international community should press upon ASEAN the urgency of such a meeting”, she emphasizes.

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) must monitor these rape cases closely, and ASEAN and its member states must turn down Myanmar’s request to be the bloc’s chair in 2014, until and unless the government takes genuine steps towards ending human rights violations in the country. ASEAN members states need to heed the repeated calls by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, for the creation of a UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into serious international crimes in Burma, which has the support of Aung San Suu Kyi, and thereby join the ranks of the sixteen countries who have already endorsed the establishment of such a CoI. Thailand and other investors must reconsider their investments in Myanmar and cut off financial lifelines that keep brutal and self-serving despots in power.

For further comments/ media interviews with AIPMC Parliamentarians, do contact

Aticha Wongwian +66 863863494 (Thailand),
Phirum Keo +85517757079 (Cambodia),
Edmund Teoh +60123750974 (Malaysia),
Agung Putri Astrid +62 81514006416 (Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines)

Download this statement in Thai here.

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This post is in: Press Release

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