Myanmar


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Myanmar (Burma) Human Rights

THE CURRENT SITUATION

Myanmar is currently ruled by the military junta that seized power in a coup on February 1, 2021.  The coup took place after elections in November 2020 in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won by a landslide.  The military had previously disparaged the results as “fake news” and challenged the results in court, to no avail.  On the morning on which the newly elected Parliament was to meet, the military (Tatmadaw) arrested hundreds of parliamentarians, journalists, and human rights activists.  Among those detained on that day were U Win Myint, President, and Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor.  They remain under arrest.

In the months following the coup, the people of Myanmar have staged peaceful protests throughout the country, as well as general strikes.  They bang on pots and pans every evening in protest, and have adopted the three-finger salute popularized by “The Hunger Games” to show support for democracy.

The Tatmadaw has reacted to these peaceful protests with lethal force, recklessly firing both rubber bullets and live ammunition into crowds.  In the first two months after the coup, over 200 people have been reported killed, and over 1,000 remain in detention.

 

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Myanmar Elections [2011 background]

The military rulers of Myanmar have jailed thousands of people in their continuing efforts to crush all dissenting views. Most prominent of those detained was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was released on November 13, 2010 and has been the beacon of hope and change for nearly two decades in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma.

Many of Myanmar’s 55 million people live in poverty and suffer from ongoing human rights violations. Those who express dissenting views face harassment, arbitrary arrest, torture, imprisonment and sometimes even extrajudicial executions. Political prisoners probably number in the hundreds, maybe more. No transparent process has been carried out to determine the correct number. AI has called upon the UN to assist the government in convening a panel, including the National League for Democracy, to ensure that all political prisoners are identified.

Since May 2010 AI has also called on the UN to establish an international commission of inquiry into grave crimes in conflict zones including extra judicial killing, arbitrary detention, torture and forced labor on a large scale.

The Myanmar government declared a state of emergency in Rakhine State on June 10, following an outbreak of communal violence in the previous week among the Buddhist Rakhine, Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya communities. It remains in effect in several areas.

Since then, Myanmar’s Border Security Force (nasaka), army and police have conducted massive sweeps in areas that are heavily populated by Rohingyas. Hundreds of mostly men and boys have been detained, nearly all held incommunicado, and some subjected to ill-treatment.

Most arrests appear to have been arbitrary and discriminatory, violating the rights to liberty and to freedom from discrimination on grounds of religion.

Political prisoners in Myanmar are still held under vague laws frequently used by the government to criminalize peaceful political dissent. They are being held in grim conditions, with inadequate food and sanitation. Many are in poor health and do not receive proper medical treatment. Many were tortured during their initial interrogation and detention, and still risk torture as a punishment at the hands of prison officers.

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Human Rights Concerns

On August 19, 2007 protesters of the 88 Generation Movement took to the streets of Yangon, then Myanmar’s capital city, to peacefully protest overnight increases in gasoline prices by 66%, and compressed natural gas prices up five-fold. The huge rises in oil and gas prices have exacerbated living expenses, placing obstacles for many in the nation.

On August 21 and 22, demonstrators that were involved in organizing and participating in the August 19 protests were detained by government security forces, and had their homes searched without arrest or search warrants. In cities and townships nationwide, demonstrators who peacefully assembled, to express their dissent were continually and violently dispersed, beaten, and detained by both government security forces and its closely linked civilian organizations – Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and Swan Arrshin.

It is believed that the demonstrators will be charged under Law 5/96, which allows up to 20-year prison sentences for anyone who is found guilty of expressing opinions which disrupt the stability of the state, or “undermine, belittle and make people misunderstand the functions being carried out by the National Convention.” Further, on September 7, individuals detained for other peaceful dissent not related to the one just mentioned, were tried in prison and handed life sentences. By no means were these trials held to international legal norms. It is feared that the same methods of trying individuals will be used in the latest crackdown and arrests.

Amnesty International is concerned that the vague and sweeping provisions of Law 5/96 criminalize the peaceful expression of political beliefs, and has called for its repeal. AI has called upon the government of Myanmar to uphold universal human rights standards enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially those of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, freedom from torture and ill-treatment, and fair trial. AI is also concerned that torture and other forms of ill treatment have been used to extract ficticious confessions that will be presented as evidence against the detainees. Detainees often do not receive immediate medical treatment, access to lawyers, family, and the courts. Myanmar currently has at least 1,158 political prisoners detained – one of the highest of such populations worldwide.

Myanmar Newsroom



September 9, 2020 • Report

Leaked documents in Myanmar reveal global business ties to military crimes

An Amnesty International investigation has exposed how international businesses are linked to the financing of Myanmar’s military, including many units directly responsible for crimes under international law and other human rights …

April 13, 2020 • Report

Release Jailed Human Rights Defenders and Activists in Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi and her government have overseen the continuing harassment, intimidation, arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of human rights defenders and activists since coming to power in Myanmar four years ago, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

August 29, 2019 • Report

Bangladeshi Parents Fear for Lost Generation of Rohingya Children

Two years after a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign forced around 700,000 Rohingya to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh, refugees are still trapped in unbearable conditions in overcrowded camps, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

June 17, 2019 • Report

“Fleeing my whole life”: Older people’s experience of conflict and displacement in Myanmar

Tens of thousands of older women and men from ethnic minorities across Myanmar who faced military atrocities and were forced to flee their homes are being let down by a humanitarian system …

May 29, 2019 • Report

“No one can protect us”: War crimes and abuses in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Following a recent investigation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Amnesty International has gathered new evidence that the Myanmar military is committing war crimes and other human rights violations. The military operation …

June 26, 2018 • Report

Myanmar: Military top brass must face justice for crimes against humanity targeting Rohingya

Amnesty International has gathered extensive, credible evidence implicating Myanmar’s military Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and 12 other named individuals in crimes against humanity committed during the ethnic cleansing …

May 22, 2018 • Report

Myanmar: New evidence reveals Rohingya armed group massacred scores in Rakhine State

A Rohingya armed group brandishing guns and swords is responsible for at least one, and potentially a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindu women, men, and children as well as additional unlawful killings and abductions of Hindu villagers in August 2017, Amnesty International revealed today after carrying out a detailed investigation inside Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

March 11, 2018 • Report

Remaking Rakhine State

Myanmar’s Rakhine State is being militarized at an alarming pace, as authorities are building security force bases and bulldozing land where Rohingya villages were burned to the ground just months …

November 20, 2017 • Report

Myanmar: Rohingya trapped in dehumanizing apartheid regime

The Rohingya people in Myanmar are trapped in a vicious system of state-sponsored, institutionalized discrimination that amounts to apartheid, said Amnesty International today as it publishes a major new analysis into the root causes of the current crisis in Rakhine State.

October 17, 2017 • Report

‘My World Is Finished’: Rohingya Targeted in Crimes against Humanity in Myanmar

More than 530,000 Rohingya men, women and children have fled northern Rakhine State in terror in a matter of weeks amid the Myanmar security forces’ targeted campaign of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burning, Amnesty International said today in its most detailed analysis yet of the ongoing crisis.