Myanmar Situation 2016Situation in Myanmar in 2016
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2017 World Report: Myanmar | Human Rights Watch
Burma's new National League for Democracy (NLD) presided over the country's new administration in March 2016 following the November 2015 poll. Under the leadership of State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw, the NLD has controlled the NLD's majorities in the country's first ever democratic, civilian-led administration since 1962.
But the new administration is inheriting deep-rooted issues such as the constitutionally empowering the army, oppressive laws, fragile rules of justice and a corruption of the judge. However, the NLD-led administration has not yet benefited from its original dynamism to lead the countrys substantial reforms or the establishment of democracy based institutional structures. Fights between Burma's armies and ethnically based groups have increased or flamed up over the year in several areas, resulting in mistreatment of civilians and mass expulsion.
At Maungdaw in Rakhine State on 9 October, violence by unidentified rebels on frontier guards led to the death of nine officers and triggered the worst international crises in Rakhine State since the "ethnic purge " against the Rohingya in October 2012. Pursuant to the profoundly erroneous 2008 constitutional treaty, the army maintains independence from civil supervision and far-reaching powers over governance and domestic safety, with the supervision of defence, interior and frontier ministries.
Fights between the Tatmadaw (Burmese military forces) and ethnically militarized groups intensified over the year in Kachin, Rakhine, Karen and northern Shan states, evicting tens of thousand people. State troops were guilty of serious abuse, which included extra-judicial assassinations, acts of torture, acts of sexual assault and the demolition of properties. Intergovernmental bombardment and air strikes against ethnical areas were carried out in breach of the martial-law.
State and non-state groups have been involved in the use of anti-personnel mines and enforced recruiting, even of newcomers. Burma's military's heritage of a''divide and rule'' remains, as the spread of the dispute and the resulting abuse exacerbate tension between people. Under the former Thein Sein administration, the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was ratified in October 2015 by eight non-state gunmen, less than half of the country's population.
From the time of its approval, there have been continuing hostilities and conflicts between undersigned and non-signatory arms groups. Aung San Suu Kyi chaired the Panglong Conference of the twenty-first century from 31 August to 3 September, which was intended as a platform for the reintegration of gunmen and other actors in the country's peacemaking work. Fights between the army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the state of Kachin have been increasing continuously since mid-August.
During September, fights between ethnically militarized groups and Karen troops expelled about 5,900 Karen citizens. Over the last five years, 220,000 refugees have been internally displaced nationwide - 120,000 in Rakhine State and 100,000 in Shan and Kachin States. Safety threads, poor infrastructures and constraints by state and non-governmental bodies frequently hindered human rights organizations' entry to the civilian population that had been driven into areas of war.
At the end of 2016, barriers to entry for internally expelled persons in the states of Kachin and Shan rose. Islamic minority groups in Burma, especially the 1.2 million Rohingya people, are still faced with unbridled and systematic violation of fundamental freedoms. Violent eruptions in Maungdaw County, Rakhine, North of the State, led to an escalation to three frontier posts after an October 9 assault, in which nine policemen were killed.
It claimed that both the first and the following assaults were conducted by Rohingya fighters and launched "clearance operations" to localize the suspected assailants, while cordoning off the area and refusing to allow unauthorized entry to relief agencies, unrelated news outlets and human right observers. As a result of the safety operation, there have been countless incidents of serious assaults by the state police against Rohingya village inhabitants, such as mass murders, rapes and other forms of sexually motivated assault, tortures and ill-treatment, indiscriminate detention and incendiary acts.
During a number of confrontations that began on 11 November, the army used combat helicopters. As of the date of the letter, the administration said it had detained over 300 suspected people. In November, satellites unveiled wide-spread fire-related destructions in Rohingya towns with a combined of 430 ruined structures in three Maungdaw-districts.
Governments travelling constraints on philanthropic organizations have resulted in serious nutritional uncertainty and undernourishment, and an estimated 30,000 Moslem village inhabitants have remained internally displaced. 2. Time and again the United Nations has neglected to properly or efficiently examine abuse against the Rohingya and has not responded to suggestions to ask the UN for support for an inquiry into the abuse.
Maungdaw's continuing crises represent the most severe and wide-spread violent attack on the Rohingya since the racial purge in June and October 2012. In the four years following the 2012 violent incident, some 120,000 Rohingya remained internally displaced in the Rakhine state. For the Rohingya, who are not on the formal shortlist of 135 ethnical groups qualifying for full nationality under the 1982 Nationality Act, effectively denying their nationality has allowed for permanent violations, which include freedom of action, restriction of entry to healthcare, subsistence, housing and training, indiscriminate detentions and imprisonment and hard labour.
As the group itself calls it, the Rohingya concept is refused by the Buddhist nationalists in favour of the concept of Bengali, which imply illegitimate immigrantism. Burma's new administration set up two committees to tackle Rakhine State's secular tension - a governing body and a nine-member national/international consultative body headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which began its one-year research mission in September.
The limitations on the right to free movement of opinion and association continue because the authorities have failed to address the series of legislation that has long been used to criminalise free opinion and persecute the dissent. During the last few month of her tenure, the Thein Sein administration kept detaining militants with policy-driven accusations and failed to keep the former president's promise to free all former deportees until the end of his tenure.
The new NLD-run administration freed 235 prisoner politicians and inmates in a range of acts of amnesty in April. A number of campaigners have been detained in the public service in accordance with 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act for "defamation" of Aung San Suu Kyi, President Htin Kyaw or the army. In May, in the Sagaing Division, rallies against the Letpadaung mine and 76 workers' right-wingers marched into the capitol Naypyidaw to protests against beatings by plant workers by Yangon inter-religious peace-walkers, 90 civic militants, and more.
Fifty one of the workers' militants were indicted under Burma's criminal law for illegal gathering, riot and disturbance of peace; 15 were tried in October and imprisoned for four to six month. Criminalisation of the statements felt to be a menace to the army also progressed. At the end of June, the Ta'ang Women's Organization had to call off a news briefing in Rangoon to publish a story of attacks on racial palaung in northern Shan State.
Khine Myo Htun, an ecological campaigner and member of the Arakan Liberation Party, was indicted in August for violation of paragraphs 505(b) and 505(c) of the Criminal Law for alleging criminal acts against humanitarianism to the army. The experienced campaigner Htin Kyaw was detained in October and indicted for violation of Section 505(a) for alleging that the army had committed atrocities.
Whilst the easing of restrictions on the use of the judiciary was an essential feature of the process of democratisation, various types of state supervision are still enshrined in the legislative context and are used to limit the freedoms of the mass media. The Ministry of Information in June prohibited the movie "Twilight Over Burma" from a screening of films on behalf of Burma's humanitarian community because it represented a relation that would allegedly endanger the country's ethnical and militaristic relationships.
Myanmar Times dismissed a reporter who had been reporting rapes by Maungdaw police, allegedly under Ministry of Information-pressures. It is difficult to grasp the issue of gender equality in Burma, especially with respect to the issue of force in the context of gunfire. There has been a high incidence of sexually assaulted by the army and to some degree by ethnically targeted groups, and the recurrence of forced confrontations in Kachin and northern Shan has compounded the situation.
Very few persecutions have been public, despite claims of more than 115 cases of sexually assaulted by the Myanmar military since the resumption of hostilities. During October and November, the press and grassroots groups in Maungdaw county covered a number of rapes and other acts of sex abuse of Rohingya woman and girl carried out by police during the" clean-up".
It has dismissed all allegations of sexually assaulted persons and the closure of the country's territory has avoided impartial investigation of abuse. Such repression is symbolic of the military's long-standing reluctance to seriously examine cases of sexually assaulted persons. The vulnerability of trafficked and internally displaced persons and those without a nation to abduction, forced disappearance, acts of sexually assault and abuse is particularly high among them.
In spite of their key roles in Burma's respect for fundamental freedoms and democratic activity, the various governments' efforts for the peacemaking processes have marginalised the position of trafficked and their fears have vanished markedly in the deal. Female participation in the peacemaking processes was less than 10 per cent, and women's groups were represented at the Panglong Conference in the twenty-first century.
The United States administration loosened a series of penalties in May to facilitate US corporate investment and finance operations in Burma. Also the US regained the GSP trading regime's trading power with Burma, despite serious concern that Burma's labour practice does not comply with GSP labour law requirements.
The US State Department has in a conflicting move down rankings Burma in its Level 3 Mandatory Level 3 Protocol on Humans Traffic, recognizing the continuing abuse of trade in people, the recruiting of children soldiers and the use of hard labour. In March, the UNHRC readopted its Burma resolutions, extending the mandates of the UNHRC and calling on it to set standards for reforms.
China, Burma's immediate neighbour with significant commercial and political relations within the Burma, continues its effort to increase its commitment to geopolitics with the Myanmar authorities and to promote the major expansion plans that provide direct contact with the country's physical assets and strategically located boundaries, often to the disadvantage of the population.