Annual Report: Myanmar 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Myanmar 2011

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  • Khun Htun Oo, 67, Chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), serving a 93-year prison sentence in Puta-O prison, suffered from diabetes.
  • Sai Hla Aung, 66, an SNLD official serving a 79-year prison sentence in Kyaukhphyu prison, suffered from a skin disease.
  • General Hso Ten, 74, serving a 106-year sentence in Sittwe prison, was transferred between three different prisons in one week in August, and dislocated his arm when shackled during the journey. He had heart diseases, cataracts and diabetes.
  • Mya Aye, 44, had angina, high blood pressure and gastric problems in Taunggyi prison.

Forced displacement

The army continued to forcibly displace residents of entire villages, primarily those populated by ethnic minorities, adding to the country's roughly 500,000 internally displaced people.

  • In January, following the establishment of an army camp in northern Kayin state, government troops raided 10 villages, killing four people and causing at least 1,000 more to flee their homes.
  • In mid-February, troops in Bago Division burned dozens of houses and a clinic, and forced around 2,000 villagers to flee their homes.
  • In July, around 500 people were forced to flee their homes after troops shelled Dutado village in Hpapun township, Kayin state, in an attack apparently aimed at the KNLA. The army then entered the village and burned to the ground around 70 houses, the village school and a church.
  • In November, battles between a breakaway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Myanmar army in Myawaddy, and further attacks by the army against other ethnic minority armed groups near Three Pagodas Pass, resulted in over 20,000 refugees fleeing Myanmar temporarily and thousands more being internally displaced.

Development-related violations

The army committed human rights violations in connection with oil, gas, mining and hydropower development projects, including forced labour, killings, beatings and land confiscation. The authorities continued to target villagers suspected of opposing or questioning the projects.

  • In late May and early June, authorities began forcibly relocating several villages in Kachin state as part of the ongoing Ayerarwaddy Myitsone Dam project.
  • The authorities confiscated land without compensation and forcibly displaced villagers in Rakhine state as construction of the Shwe gas and oil transport pipelines began.
  • Battalions providing security for the Yadana, Yetagun and Kanbauk-Myaing Kalay natural gas pipelines in Tanintharyi Division and Kayin state forced civilians to work on barracks, roads and miscellaneous projects, and committed at least two extrajudicial executions.

International scrutiny

In February, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar visited the country for five days – his third since his appointment in 2008. In March, his report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva emphasized that human rights violations resulted from state policy "that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels". Pointing out that some of these violations may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes under international law, he called for a UN commission of inquiry. The HRC adopted resolution 13/25 on Myanmar in March calling on the government to ensure free and transparent elections and to release all prisoners of conscience. By year's end, 14 countries publicly backed the Special Rapporteur's call for a commission of inquiry: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, UK and USA. In July the Special Rapporteur was denied a visa for his fourth visit to Myanmar.

Also in March, in response to the promulgation of electoral laws, the UN Secretary-General wrote a letter to Senior General Than Shwe urging the release of all political prisoners prior to elections.

In April, the EU extended its sanctions regime against Myanmar for a further year.

In May, the USA also extended sanctions, and in July renewed its ban on imports from Myanmar, while defending its policy of engagement with the Myanmar authorities.