Annual Report: Myanmar (Burma) 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Myanmar (Burma) 2010

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  • In January, the authorities arrested, beat, and imprisoned at least 19 Rakhine men and women for possessing documents on human rights and democracy and for forming a political organization. They were sentenced to prison terms of between five and seven years.
  • In January, soldiers beat a Shan woman several times after accusing her of giving rice to Shan insurgents and acting as a guide for them.
  • In February, police arrested two local Kachin youths for surfing banned websites on Myanmar.
  • In March and early April, authorities increased their surveillance of the ceasefire group the New Mon State Party (NMSP), throughout Mon State, questioning them regularly about contacting the media.
  • In June, authorities in Rakhine State arrested Soe Soe on charges of contacting opposition groups in exile, and sentenced her to six years' imprisonment.

In Rakhine State, systematic persecution of ethnic minority Rohingyas continued unabated, causing thousands to flee to Bangladesh, Thailand or Malaysia, often on boats. In January, the Myanmar navy intercepted one such boat that had recently left Myanmar, and held the 78 Rohingyas on board for six days and beat them severely, before sending them back out to sea. In April, at the regional meetings of the Bali Process, the government publicly refused to recognize Rohingyas either as an existing ethnic minority or as citizens of Myanmar.

Cyclone Nargis-related arrests and imprisonment

At least 29 people who had assisted in private relief work after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in May 2008 remained in prison for activity deemed political by the authorities. At least 18 of them were sentenced to between 10 and 35 years in prison.

  • In October, the authorities arrested at least 10 people for accepting relief donations from abroad. At least seven were members of the local Lin Let Kye ("Shining Star") organization, devoted to relief and social activism.

Armed conflict and displacement

The Myanmar army continued to attack various ethnic minority armed groups, often targeting civilians and causing large-scale displacement. In June, attacks by the army and the government-supported Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) internally displaced thousands of ethnic minority Karen civilians and caused 4,800 refugees to flee to Thailand. The DKBA forcibly recruited people during the offensive for both portering and military service, destroyed abandoned villages, and planted land mines in the wake of the exodus.

In August, the most intensive attacks in 10 years against the armed opposition Shan State Army-South and Shan civilians forced more than 10,000 people to relocate; most were internally displaced. The attacks were characterized by extrajudicial executions and sexual abuse. Also in August, the army attacked the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, causing more than 30,000 mostly ethnic minority Kokang to flee into China, almost all of whom subsequently returned to Myanmar. Internal displacement increased to over 500,000 people.

Development-related violations

The army committed human rights violations in connection with official development projects, including forced labour, killings, beatings, land confiscation, forced farming, restrictions on movement, and confiscation of property. Battalions providing security for the Yadana, Yetagun and Kanbauk-Myiang Kalay natural gas pipelines in Tanintharyi Division and Kayin State forced civilians to work on barracks, roads and sentry huts. Authorities also confiscated land without compensation in relation to the Shwe gas project in Rakhine State, and targeted villagers suspected of opposing or questioning the project. Authorities arrested, detained and interrogated local villagers, forcing some to flee the area.