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Human Rights Situation Deteriorated as Fighting Intensified in Kachin State

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma  •  February 7, 2013

Burma’s human rights situation in January 2013 remained poor, in large part, due to the intensified fighting in Kachin State.  In January 2013, the Burmese military admitted that it had launched an aerial assault against the strongholds of the KIO/KIA.

According to a member organization of the ND-Burma, there are over 25,000 refugees being sheltered in close proximity to the aerial attacks. Reports of civilian causalities have also been received.

“It was on January 14. My dad and family members joined their neighbors who put up a fire to warm themselves. We lived in Section No. 4 of Liza from Jar Eain Yan villager once the fighting started. Suddenly, we heard the big explosion that was hit by the government troops’ heavy artillery. One of them got killed on the spot and my father got wounded on his calf and thigh. But he died in the hospital.”[1]

However, the network has seen as an improvement President U Thein Sein’s endorsement of a bill approved by the National Parliament, which repealed law 5/96 and the abolishment of Order 2/88. These two oppressive laws were instrumental in suppressing freedom of expression.

In a welcomed move, the press censorship board, officially known as Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), was officially dissolved during the cabinet meeting.

On 30 January, Burmese lawyers and an American human rights lawyer gathered material at the site of the protest in Latpadaung and reported that police used lethal white phosphorus grenades to disperse protesters, while the Latpadaung Investigation Commission, chaired by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, had initially reported that smoke bombs were used.

The use of child soldiers has also persisted. On January 23, Child Soldiers International released a report that confirmed the ongoing recruitment and use of child soldiers by the Tatmadaw and its subordinate Border Guard Forces.

At the end of January, former political prisoners held a commemoration of “Anti-Labour campaign against the prison authorities in Tharrawaddy prison” in 1989. It was the first public event that confronted the past human rights violations toward the former political prisoners. The ND-Burma believes that it is imperative for the incumbent government to acknowledge past human rights violations and seek ways to address the human rights situation that will foster the public’s trust in the government.

[1] Extract of an interview with the victim’s daughter by the field worker of a member organization of the ND-Burma

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This post is in: Peace and National Reconciliation, Press Release

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