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Burma 2014 Human Rights Report

By US Department of State  •  June 25, 2015

Burma’s parliamentary government is headed by President Thein Sein. In 2012 the country held largely transparent and inclusive by-elections in which the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, chaired by Aung San Suu Kyi, won 43 of 45 contested seats of a total 664 seats in the legislature. Constitutional provisions grant one-quarter of all national and one-third of all regional and state parliamentary seats to active-duty military appointees and provide that the military indefinitely assume power over all branches of the government should the president declare a national state of emergency. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) continued to hold an overwhelming majority of the seats in the national parliament and state and regional assemblies, and active-duty military officers continued to wield authority at many levels of government. There is no civilian control of the military; police forces also report to the military through the minister of home affairs.

Human rights abuses in Rakhine State remained a severely troubling counterpoint to the broader trend of progress since 2011, including the 2012 release of political prisoners, efforts to improve prison conditions, and continuing negotiations to pursue a durable ceasefire. In Rakhine State, the central and local governments severely restricted humanitarian access and did little to address the root causes of violence and discrimination. The government did not establish a fair process for granting access to full citizenship rights on an equal, nondiscriminatory basis to stateless Rohingya. Authorities in Rakhine State made no meaningful efforts to help Rohingya and other Muslim minority persons displaced by violence to return to their homes and continued to enforce draconian restrictions on their movement. As a result, more than 140,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) remained interned in camps, which further entrenched the segregation of the Rohingya and Rakhine communities and left them vulnerable to abuse and extortion in their dealings with authorities. Government security forces allegedly were responsible for cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, torture and mistreatment in detention, and systematic denial of due process and fair trial rights, overwhelmingly perpetrated against Rohingya, but fewer allegations were reported than in previous years. In November more than 16,000 Rohingya fled by boat in the span of only two weeks, largely facilitated by military and security forces and criminal smugglers and traffickers. Since 2012 more than 100,000 Rohingya reportedly have fled Rakhine State.

Other significant human rights problems persisted throughout the country, particularly in conflict areas, including rape and sexual violence; politically motivated arrests and an overall lack of rule of law, resulting in corruption and widespread land confiscation without adequate compensation or recourse to the law; arrests of journalists; and restrictions on media freedom. Authorities failed to protect civilians in conflict zones. The government reportedly abused some prisoners and detainees. Prison conditions were harsh but in general no longer life-threatening; conditions in labor camps continued to be harsh and in some areas life-threatening. A number of laws restricting freedoms of speech, press, assembly, religion, and movement remained, and authorities continued to enforce them. Local authorities arbitrarily enforced regulations that obstructed political gatherings. Although recruitment and use of child soldiers continued, the military released 552 child soldiers after the government signed a joint action plan with the United Nations in June 2012, indicating an accelerated effort to end this practice. Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities and stateless persons continued, as did trafficking in persons. Forced labor, including that of children, persisted, although to a lesser degree than in the past.

The government took some limited actions to prosecute or punish citizens responsible for abuses, although abuses by government actors and security officials continued with impunity.

Some ethnic armed groups allegedly committed human rights abuses, including forced labor of adults and children and recruitment of child soldiers, and failed to protect civilians in conflict zones.

Download the full report here.

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This post is in: 2010 Elections, Aid, ASEAN, Business and Human Rights, Children and Youth, Crimes Against Humanity, Displacement, Economy, Ethnic Nationalities, Human Rights, Human Trafficking, Political Prisoners, Women

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