Myanmar: The repression of ethnic minority activists in Myanmar

February 16, 2010

Myanmar: The repression of ethnic minority activists in Myanmar

29 The Rohingyas are an almost entirely Muslim minority group of an estimated two million, most of whom inhabit Rakhine State. While they have a distinct culture and dialect, the Myanmar government does not recognize the existence of a separate Rohingya ethnic group and the vast majority of Rohingyas is not believed to possess Myanmar citizenship; indeed most globally are stateless. Rohingyas are routinely forced to request permission and pay a fee in order to leave their villages and are not permitted to marry members of other ethnicities or work as civil servants. They are frequently subjected to forced labour, arbitrary taxation, land confiscation, and forced eviction by the Myanmar authorities. Several armed groups, notably the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, operate along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Rakhine State in fighting the Myanmar government. There is a large population of Rohingyas in Bangladesh, as well as smaller populations in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Middle East, having fled there to escape persecution by the Myanmar government and seek better economic opportunities. See Amnesty International, Myanmar: The Rohingya Minority: Fundamental rights denied, ASA/16/005/2004, 18 May 2004. In December 2009, the UN General Assembly "Express[ed] its concern about the continuing discrimination, human rights violations, violence, displacement and economic deprivation affecting numerous ethnic minorities, including, but not limited to, the Rohingya ethnic minority in Northern Rakhine State" (OP 14). UN General Assembly Resolution on Myanmar, 24 December 2009 (A/RES/64/238).

30 The other three are the Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the ethnically based Pa'o National Organization (PNO), and the ethnically based Palaung State Liberation Party (PSLP).

31 The Communist Party of Burma (Arakan) has agreed to a ceasefire. The Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), which operates along the Myanmar-Thailand border in Kayin State, and the National United Party of Arakan (NUPA), active along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, have not agreed to ceasefires.

32 The Kachin Independence Army, the armed wing of the KIO; the Lasang Awng Wa Peace Group, a splinter group of the KIA; the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K); and the Kachin Defence Army (KDA), have agreed to ceasefires with the government.

33 The National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), the Shan State National Army (SSNA), and the Shan State Nationalities People's Liberation Organization (SNPLO) have agreed to ceasefires. The Shan State Army-South (SSA-S), formed in 1996 from splinter groups of the Mong Tai Army (MTA), which was led by Khun Sa, is still actively in armed conflict with the tatmadaw.

34 The four which have agreed are the Karenni Nationalities People's Liberation Front (KNPLF) and the Karenni National Defence Army (KNDA), both of which split from the KNPP, as well as the Kayan New Land Party (KNLP) and its splinter group, the Kayan National Guard (KNG). The armed wing of the KNPP (without a separate name) has not agreed to a ceasefire.

35 The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Karen Peace Front (KPF), which split from the KNLA in 1994 and 1997, respectively, have agreed to ceasefires.