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Burma needs good human rights records

By Zin Linn/ OpEdNews
February 21, 2014
 
Burma or Myanmar has a bad record concerning topic of human rights to date. Human Rights Watch criticizes Burma’s lately formed National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which has not take part in competent role to scrutinize human rights violations in conflict zones. In February 2012, the commission’s chairman, U Win Mra, said that the commission would not look into allegations of abuses in the country’s ethnic armed conflict areas due to the government’s efforts to negotiate ceasefires.
 
HRW has also made a recommendation to the parliament which needed to pass legislation that would bring Myanmar’s NHRC in line with the Paris Principles on national human rights institutions in order to establish it as an independent and effective institution. However, people do not satisfy with the NHRC’s activities since it has made little progress for citizen’s rights protection.
 
Recently, the Network for Human Rights Documentation — Burma (ND-Burma) has released a periodic report documenting the human rights situation in Burma or Myanmar during the period of July 2013 — December 2013. The report focuses on 106 cases of human rights violations (HRVs) committed by the government and its supporters in the 14 states and regions throughout the country.
 
There are many serious human rights violations addressed and highlighted in the report; torture, extra-judicial killing, illegal arrests and detention, arbitrary taxation, property crimes, forced labor, trafficking, forced displacement and rape.
 
ND-Burma’s recent report says that while on a tour to Europe, President U Thein Sein promised to release all political prisoners by the end of 2013 and declared that there would never again be any political prisoners in the country. Yet, by the time of composing the report, there are 33 political prisoners imprisoned in reference to “The Review Committee for Remaining Political Prisoners’.
 
Even though most political prisoners were released under section (18) and section 505-b, they were not free unconditionally but released under section 401, the report says. These conditions mean that human rights and political activists can still be re-arrested at any time. The Government is yet to abolish or amend this law. Then ND-Burma highlights that campaigners and human rights advocates constantly urge the government to take steps towards abolishing these unjust and undemocratic laws.
 
ND-Burma documented 27 cases of forced labour, 26 cases of land confiscation and 21 cases of torture. The violations were committed as direct result of on-going armed conflict and the military involvement in trade and industry.
 
According to the report, “The confiscation and destruction of property that ND-Burma has reported through the efforts of field workers has been reflected by the growing number of reports in recent news out of Burma. The weakness of the 2012 Farmland Law has allowed the government and closely linked businesses to continue to commit these HRVs unabated.”