International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Weekly Highlights: ‘Peace Partners’ Must Be Given Equal Status Ahead of Next 21st Century Panglong Conference

    

'Peace Partners' Must Be Given Equal Status Ahead of Next 21st Century Panglong Conference

Police bearing riot shields form a blockade outside Majoi Hall in Myitkyina, Kachin State, on Thursday. Photo credit: Khon Ja / Democratic Voices of Burma

 

 

Armed clashes and military aggression by the Myanmar Army[1] against the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the ethnic Kokang, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) are posing further problems to the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Conference, which has been rescheduled to be held in March 2017. Added to the huge offensives launched by the Myan marArmy on northern ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in Shan State and Kachin State, it is difficult to view the current state of the peace process with any optimism.

 

On 14 February, 2017, the Myanmar Army ordered the armed wing of the NMSP, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) to abandon two of its military outposts and also raided a NMSP liaison office. According to the MNLA, this was in retaliation for the military parade conducted by the MNLA on Mon National Day two days previously. Although discussions between the two sides have taken place, the bases have not yet been returned. This is despite the NMSP and the Myanmar Government signing a bilateral ceasefire agreement in 2012, although the NMSP did not sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) in 2015 due to its lack of inclusivity. 

 

Whereas the MNLA incident has thus far ended without violence, the same cannot be said in the Kokang area of Shan State where the Myanmar Army has launched renewed attacks. Speaking about the incident MNDAA officer stated shortly after the attacks; "Clashes are fierce. The Tatmadaw [Myanmar Army] has been using air strikes, artillery fire and so on. Clashes were quite serious both yesterday and today."

 

While it is clear that the Myanmar Army is the aggressor in armed conflict in Myanmar, there has also been growing concern that the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led Government is not doing enough to stop this aggression or build trust between the conflicting parties or with respective ethnic political parties or civil society. Kachin civil society and political parties had their first ever Kachin National Conference at Manaw Park in Myitkyina – an event in preparation for the next 21st Century Panglong Conference – blocked by authorities. Only after negotiation could the event go ahead. It was also reported that the State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi knew about and even signed off on the orders for the Myanmar Army's massive offensive against the Kachin Independence Army, which displaced thousands in late 2016 and early 2017. In January 2017, the Joint Strategy Team, a coalition of local humanitarian organizations working in Kachin areas, reported that 4,000 people living in displaced persons camps were forced to flee again due to airstrike and heavy artillery bombardments by the Myanmar Army.

 

In the meantime, the United Wa State Army, the largest EAO in Myanmar, is convening a summit to be attended by various EAOs, to discuss the current situation of peace talks while the next 21st Century Panglong Conference is now set to be held in March 2017. Given the uncertainty and lack of trust at this time, it is still unclear which EAOs will attend the 21st Century Panglong Conference.

 

Military attacks, raiding offices of EAOs, attempting to block civil society efforts to engage in the peace process, and ordering huge offensives against EAOs are just some of the negative developments since the first 21st Century Panglong Conference held in August 2016. It is clear that the Myanmar Army must be reined in, and yet it is also clear that the Myanmar Government must demonstrate political will and do more to respect the aspirations of Myanmar's ethnic nationalities, such as the initiative taken by ethnic Kachin groups to discuss and make preparations for the peace process, or for the ethnic Mon to celebrate their own national day. The international peace donors who have put millions of dollars as well as political backing into a failing peace process must also take these local efforts and initiatives by ethnic nationalities seriously and support them with both financial and political backing.

 

Focusing on signing the NCA, rather than solving the structural causes of armed conflict, will only put obstacles in the way of finding a long-term sustainable solution to peace. Furthermore, accepting the government's propaganda of the labelling of EAOs as 'terrorists' and spreading false information runs contrary to the spirit of peacebuilding. As a joint statement by the NCA signatory, Karen National Union and the non-signatory, Kachin Independence Organization, explained, EAOs should be viewed as "peace partners." This should be the spirit, echoing the Panglong Agreement, that Government negotiators and international peace donors must view EAOs – equal partners in the building of a democratic federal union of Myanmar.

 

 


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term 'Myanmar' in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of 'Myanmar' rather than 'Burma' without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten.

 

 

STATEMENTS AND PRESS RELEASES  

 

APHR: International investigation still needed to address alleged atrocities in Myanmar's Rakhine State
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights


Cox's Bazar: UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar to visit Bangladesh
By United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner   


KNU – ကရင္အမ်ိဳးသားအစည္းအရံုုး ႏွင့္ KIO တိုု႔၏ ပုူးတြဲထုုတ္ျပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္
By Karen National Union and Kachin Independence Organization       

 

2016 Padoh Mahn Sha Young Leader Award Goes to Sa Thu Hlaing Win of Irrawaddy Delta
By Phan Foundation

 

Myanmar: Urgent action needed to address deteriorating human rights situation Amnesty International's written statement to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February-24 March 2017)
By Amnesty International   

 

Joint NGO Letter to UN Secretary – General António Guterres about the situation in Myanmar's Rakhine State

By Amnesty International, Burma Task Force, International Federation for Human Rights, Fortify Rights, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Physicians for Human Rights, Refugees International & U.S. Campaign for Burma       

About Progressive Voice

 

Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 the same day that Progressive Voice was formally established. For further information, please see our press release "Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice."

     




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Sunday, February 19, 2017

FBR: Day of Prayer 2017: A Call to Prayer

 
Free Burma Rangers
FBR - Love one another
   

Day of Prayer 2017: A Call to Prayer

February 19, 2017

FBR's Founder, his family, and Rangers invite all to participate in this Year's Day of Prayer on March 12, 2017.  Please CLICK the photo above to watch the video.
FBR’s Founder, his family, and Rangers invite all to participate in this Year’s Day of Prayer on March 12, 2017. Please CLICK the photo above to watch the video.

 



The Free Burma Rangers’ (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under the oppression of the Burma Army. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive Burmese military attacks.

For more information, please visit www.freeburmarangers.org

© 2010 Free Burma Rangers | Contact FBR

To unsubscribe from this email list, please respond to this email with the word REMOVE in the subject line, or send email to mailadmin@freeburmarangers.org.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

FBR: Where is the Outcry? World Leaders Must Act Now!

 
Free Burma Rangers
FBR - Love one another
   

Where is the Outcry? World Leaders Must Act Now!

February 18, 2017

War Crimes Map - Green figures represent dates of War Crimes
War Crimes Map – Green figures represent dates and locations of War Crimes

On December 23, 2016, Kachinland News reported that a mass grave containing the remains of 18 Mung Lung villagers, including a two year old boy, had been discovered three days earlier in a forest near Mung Lung Nam Hkye Ho village in Munggu area of Northern Shan State, Burma.  Their bodies had been badly burnt before being buried. The 18 villagers had remained in Mung Lung while all others fled, saying that they were simple civilians with nothing to do with the war and that the Burma Army would not harm them. Yet, on November 28, 2016, the 18 villagers were detained by Burma Army soldiers under the 88th and 99th Light Infantry Divisions – infantries notorious for their brutality and suspected involvement in war crimes.

Just over a year ago the international community lauded Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy's (NLD) landslide victory in Myanmar's (Burma) national election. The NLD largely swept to power on promises Aung San Suu Kyi made to the millions of ethnic Burmese people who make up 40% of the population, pledges that she and the NLD would make their lives better. Today, the ethnic people of Kachin and Shan States in Northern Burma are still trying to survive ongoing atrocities, brutality and war crimes perpetuated by the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) and central government on a daily basis.

With Aung San Suu Kyi as the defacto leader (Burma's 2008 constitution forbids her the presidency), Washington's Obama administration lifted almost all final sanctions plaguing Burma. These included many penalties against high ranking generals and their business associates who were previously blacklisted by the US for strong suspicions of war crimes and vast corruption practices which have impoverished a high percentage of the people, and crippled Burma's infrastructure for decades.

It has been well documented for over 60 years that Burma's military, under various brutal dictators, has led governments as barbaric as any the world has seen over that period of time. With Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD in power of a new, democratic Burma, the world hoped and assumed peace would finally come to Burma. After all it was Suu Kyi's father, serving as the general of the Burma Army during WWII and helping to defeat Japan, who now lives on in memory as a national hero. As a result, the international media refocused on other high-conflict areas and took international pressure off of Burma.

Yet, human rights abuses committed by the Burma Army continue and have recently increased. These brutalities are endless. Operating with impunity, the Tatmadaw commits senseless acts of torture, rape and murder, while conducting mortar and artillery strikes. They use attack helicopters and fighter bombers on their own civilians, including women and children, as world leaders and the media look the other way.

After a 17 year long ceasefire, the Burma Army began a military offensive attacking the Kachin people in June of 2011. The Free Burma Rangers (FBR), a humanitarian relief organization, immediately came to the aid of their Kachin relief teams and the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) caught up in the sudden conflict, while also reporting on air assaults and attacks involving civilians.

Then Burma president, Thein Sein, vehemently denied for months the army's use of attack aircraft despite FBR's reports. Finally in December of 2011, Kachin FBR relief teams videotaped the Tatmadaw using both helicopters and aircraft to attack the Kachin people. FBR sent that particular video to the BBC and other international media outlets the next day.  Western world leaders were outraged at such attacks propelled by the Burma government on their own people and demanded the immediate ceasing of such actions.

Since the long isolated, xenophobic government was trying to now appease Western powers in order to have multiple economic sanctions lifted against them, the military complied and stopped aircraft attacks against its own people yet still continued fighting through ground forces.

Fast forward a few years to 2016-2017. Although once vehemently hated by the Burma Army leadership, who kept her under house arrest for nearly 20 years because they feared the power of her national and international popularity, Aung San Suu Kyi is currently the military's biggest asset. Now that she is in power the international community and world leaders are nowhere to be found, giving a subtle green light for the military's commanders and soldiers to resume raping, torturing, murdering and terrorizing any civilian or village that meets their immediate needs, regardless of how brutal and heinous the crimes.

Unlike a few years ago when the military stopped using attack aircraft due to international political pressure, today the Burmese skies are full of helicopters and planes destroying civilian homes and villages on a regular basis. However, this time there is no outcry from world leaders and little to no international political pressure.

These attacks have destroyed hundreds of homes while killing and wounding numerous Kachin families, including children living in villages and areas where there are no Kachin militias. The Burma military and government have still not released a statement as to the reason(s) why they initiated attacks on the Kachin people after 17 years of peace. However, it is widely accepted that the military desires access to vast amounts of valuable natural resources that lie within Kachin State for the purpose of trading with and solidifying their political ties with China.

By ignoring and not demanding accountability from the Burma military and government for these ongoing atrocities, human rights abuses and war crimes, world leaders and the international media remain complicit in the pain, suffering and lives lost for hundreds of men, women and children of Northern Burma.

Timeline of Burma Army war crimes and human rights violations in Kachin and Northern Shan States (October – December, 2016)

[Graphic Images below]

The following is a list of numerous human rights abuses and war crimes that the Burma military committed, in just the last three months alone, against civilians of Kachin and Shan States in Northern Burma. These are only the ones confirmed by the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) Humanitarian Relief Teams, their local intelligent sources and a few documented by the Kachinland News. Because of limited access to areas controlled by the Burma Army, these monthly atrocities are more than likely only a fraction of what is actually committed by the Burma Army on a daily basis throughout Northern Burma.

Oct 1: The Burma Army fired a mortar round into a Muse Township village in Northern Shan State, Burma that killed a two year old girl, Mangshang Zung, and wounded two boys ages five and six years old, Lagwi Ting Kyang and Lagwi Bawm Lang. The two boys were sent to Mangshi Hospital in China.

Oct 3: While returning home from collecting bamboo, 58 year old Maru La Gawng was shot and killed by the Burma Army and his 45 year old wife, Labang Lu Ra, was taken and detained by the army. She was released later that day and Maru was buried at a nearby site located in Man Chyam Kadawng, Mansi Township.

Nov 2: The Burma Army detained, tied up and took away four men, Zinghtung Tu, Zatau Hkawng Lum, Ah Hpu and Tsai Lung, who were working at Tsai Lung's farm hut near Jap Pu village. These men's current status, whereabouts and physical wellbeing is unknown.

Nov 9: The Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 418 opened fire in the IDP camp of Hpawng Seng Man Pying in Muse Township killing the IDP's chickens and pigs, and then looting their property as the IDPs fled.

Nov 10: The Burma Army fired eight mortar rounds near Man Ye Shu village in Manton Township wounding a 30 year old woman, Ye Zum.

Nov 15: While harvesting their rice fields, three village men, Ya Na, Waw Sa and Bya Sa were detained and tortured by the Burma Army, but released in Waingman Township later that night.

Nov 18: The IDPs at camps in Nawng Hpai, Nawng Jang and Man Pin were threatened and forced at gun point by the Burma Army to move immediately to Munggu or Hpawing Seng in Muse Township. No reason was given.

Nov 22: Two civilian men, Dau Je Tu and Lahtaw Naw Din, were shot dead in Manshi Township by the Burma Army for carrying food to KIA soldiers from 27th Battalion earlier in the day.

Nov 22: Two village men, Lahpai Wan Seng and Zahkung, were walking in front of Pan Sai Police Station when the Burma Army shot and killed Lahpai and wounded Zahkun in the shoulder for carrying food for the KIA at Nam Ba Tek in Pang Sai Township. Zahkun's current status and whereabouts are unknown.

Nov 23: Two villagers from Nam Hkam were killed and one from Ban Ma Kawng Kat Village was wounded when the Burma Army fired several mortar rounds into the villages.

Nov 25: Munggu Town of Muse Township in Northern Shan State was a large housing area with hundreds of homes and thousands of residents when the Burma Army set fire to the majority of homes and rice barns (see photo).

Nov 25: The Burma Army arrested and detained 11 civilians (seven men/four women) from Nam Pa Tek village and took them to Hpai Kawng Village.  Their whereabouts and physical wellbeing are currently unknown.

Munggu Town burns in Northern Shan State. (Photo courtesy of Kachin Independence Army)
Munggu Town burns in Northern Shan State. (Photo courtesy of Kachin Independence Army)

Nov 26: Four civilian farmers, Sumlut Nawng, Sumlut Gam Mun, Tangbau Naw Chyan and Lahtaw Zau Bawk from Bang Wa Village were tending their cattle when the Burma Army Unit Light Infantry Division 33 arrested, cut and tortured them before admitting the four men to the Nam Du Hospital.

Dec 3: The Burma Army Unit 421 from MOC 7 shot and killed 32 year old civilian man, Than Soe, from Ye Nan Chuang Village.  That afternoon 500 jade workers carried the deceased body and protested in Hpakant Township.

Dec 4: The Burma Army fired several rockets from a helicopter into the village of Nam Ha in Munngu Town of Muse Township killing three civilians; 60 year old male Ai Sam, 60 year old female Ei Lau, and 15 year old boy Aik Sam. Seven other villagers were wounded, including a young child.

Aftermath photos from Burma Army rocket attacks on Nam Ha village. (Photos courtesy of Kachinland News)
Aftermath photos from Burma Army rocket attacks on Nam Ha village. (Photos courtesy of Kachinland News)
Aftermath photos from Burma Army rocket attacks on Nam Ha village. (Photos courtesy of Kachinland News)
Aftermath photos from Burma Army rocket attacks on Nam Ha village. (Photos courtesy of Kachinland News)

Dec 5-6: The Burma Army Light Infantry Division 99 returned to Hpau Jung Village, Munggu Town, and burned down most of the remaining houses and rice barns from their attack in November. The soldiers also looted as much property as they could carry in their trucks.

Dec 9: In Munggu Quarter 4 the Burma Army called for an 80 year old man to come out from inside his house. When Jau Zau walked outside at the soldiers' request, they shot and killed him.

Dec 11: When the villagers of Munggu Quarter 2 heard that the Burma Army was coming, most of the villagers fled. Upon the villagers return to their homes, they found and exhumed three graves containing the bodies of three men, Yan Ya Bau (51 yrs), Zinwa Zau Tu (56 yrs) and Kau Lu (45 yrs). (See photos.)

4

5

6

Dec 13: While returning home in Putao Kawng Kahtawng Village from hunting, two village men, Yungngai Hpung Shin and Mabu Hpung Ram, were confronted by the Burma Army. Yungngai managed to run and escape, but Mabu was accused of being a KIA soldier and subsequently beaten and tortured. Mabu's current whereabouts and physical wellbeing are unknown.

Dec 16: Chyanggu Nu Nu Mai, a two year old girl, was wounded by shrapnel from a Burma Army air bombing attack on her village, Au RA Yang, in Njang Yang Township. She was being treated at Myitkyina Hospital.

Dec 19: Dashi Lawn, a 51 year old man from Hpunggam Village in Muse Township in Northern Shan State, was detained by the Burma Army as he made his way to attend his corn fields. He was tortured and killed by cutting his throat. His body was found on Dec 26 lying next to the toilet at the home of Gyung Hkam by others villagers who had earlier fled the Burma Army.

7
The body of Dashi Lawn after being tortured and murdered by the Burma Army. (Photo courtesy of Kachinland News)

Dec 20: Villagers discover a mass grave containing the remains of 18 Mung Lung villagers, including a two year old boy, in a forest near Mung Lung Nam Hkye Ho village of the Munggu area in Northern Shan State, Burma. The bodies of the villagers were badly burnt before they were buried. The 18 villagers were detained by Burma Army soldiers from the 88th and 99th Light Infantry Division on Nov 28, 2016 according to a Mung Lung Nam Hkye Ho villager. The villager said that most of the Mung Lung villagers fled, but the ones that remained testified that they were simple civilians with nothing to do with the war and that the Burma Army would not harm them.

Dec 25: The Burma Army Light Infantry Division 88, (Battalion 27) detained 72 year old Sumhka Naw Rip at his village, Ndang Hka, in Mansi Township. He was then shot in the groin before half his head was blown away by a high powered rifle.

The body of Sumhka Naw Rip. (Photo courtesy of Kachin Independence Army)

Dec 31: Wang Hkang, a 50 year old man from the village of Nawng Heng, Wing Seng area in Muse Township, was stabbed in the stomach by a Burma Army soldier. A Burma Army medic stitched him up and sent him home, then threatened all villagers that if they told this story the Burma Army would kill everyone in the village.[4]

Dec*:  A 30 year old women from Dawng Waw Village in northern Shan State was raped by the Burma Army and her elder brother was killed.

Dec*:  While going back to a school to collect a couple of younger children they knew who had been abandoned as villagers fled, two ethnic Lisu sisters were accosted, raped and killed by Burma Army soldiers in Bangsai Village, Bangshi. Their bodies were found alongside the road between Bangsai and Hpunggan villages on December 19, 2016. That same day the girls' younger brothers, aged five and seven, went missing in the same area and are presumed dead.

Dec*:  While walking home to her village in Bangsai a 40 year old Chinese women was raped by three Burma Army soldiers. She is currently living with her sister, but is still so traumatized that her sister says she is mentally unstable.

*Specific date of event unknown

September – December 2016 Account of Burma Army Attacks Against Civilians and Ethnic Armies

***The figures below are limited to reports from FBR teams and do not represent the totality of military battles or human rights abuses perpetrated by the Burma Army.  On-the-ground intelligence indicates the numbers are indeed much higher, yet strict reporting methods restrict all estimations and ambiguities, resulting in fewer incidents being collected for data.

Burma Army Attacks (Infantry and Air) – 505

Burma Army Jet (Attack) – 106

Burma Army Helo (Attack) – 41

Burma Army Jet (Recon) – 231

Burma Army Helo (Recon) – 83

Burma Army Drone (Recon) – 16

Burma Army actions against civilians:

Civilians Killed – 55

Civilians Wounded – 27

Civilians Tortured – 27

Civilians Extorted – 7

Civilians Robbed – 4

Civilians Forced into Labor – 8

Civilian’s Property Destroyed – 13 Houses, 2 Rice Patties, 2 Barn, 1 Cattle

Civilians Detained (without reason) – 41

Displacement: 4000+ New IDPs

 

Other reports confirmed and reported by Kachinland News:

Nov 20: Two civilians and sextons of the (Munggu) Mongkoe Kachin Baptist Church, Lashi Tu and his wife, were killed by Burma Army artillery rounds fired from Byuha Hill outside of Munggu Town. The Burma Army refused to allow the church members to retrieve their bodies.

Nov 22: Zahkung Hkun Mai, a deacon of Nantau Kachin Church, was shot dead by the Burma Army as he was riding his motorcycle between Nam Tau and Pangsai.

Dec 23: Burma Army troops from Light Infantry Division 88 arrested and killed 51 year old Maran Ja Naw, a Nam Hka villager, on his way to Na Hkawng Bum, Mansi Township. Ja Naw's deceased body was found with his throat cut in Dawai Hkaraw the next day.

Ja Naw's body after having his throat cut by the Burma Army. (Photo courtesy of KIA)
Ja Naw's body after having his throat cut by the Burma Army. (Photo courtesy of KIA)
Ja Naw's body after having his throat cut by the Burma Army. (Photo courtesy of Kachinland News)
Ja Naw's body after having his throat cut by the Burma Army. (Photo courtesy of Kachinland News)

Dec 25: On Christmas Day in Bang Gaw Htingnu village, Mansi Township, Sumhka Dun Naw was shot dead by Burma Army troops from Light Infantry Division 88. His only child had been taken away by Burma Army troops in 2015 and his whereabouts remain unknown.

 



The Free Burma Rangers’ (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under the oppression of the Burma Army. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive Burmese military attacks.

For more information, please visit www.freeburmarangers.org

© 2010 Free Burma Rangers | Contact FBR

To unsubscribe from this email list, please respond to this email with the word REMOVE in the subject line, or send email to mailadmin@freeburmarangers.org.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Weekly Highlights: As Myanmar Evades Accountability for Rohingya Abuses, International Community Must Fulfill its Responsibilities

    

As Myanmar Evades Accountability for Rohingya Abuses, International Community Must Fulfill its Responsibilities

Border Guard Police patrol in northern Arakan State.  Photo credit: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy

 

 

A flash report by the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that details widespread and horrific human rights abuses committed by the Myanmar[1] security services in its 'clearance operations' in northern Rakhine State has confirmed many people's worst fears for the situation for Rohingya villagers. In an area that has experienced a lockdown since the 9 October, 2016 attacks on Border Police Posts by an armed group, the OHCHR report states that the retaliation of the security forces on civilians indicate "the very likely commission of crimes against humanity." Given the ineffectiveness and lack of impartiality of the Myanmar Government established commissions to investigate the situation in northern Rakhine State, it is clear that the international community has a responsibility to take action and establish a UN-mandated international independent investigation into recent atrocities in order to pursue accountability for these systematic and widespread human rights violations.

 

The findings of the OHCHR report are devastating. Based on testimonies from over 200 Rohingyas on the Bangladesh border who had fled northern Rakhine State after the 9 October attacks, the report details a litany of abuses such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture, looting and destruction of property. Among other findings, more than half of the women interviewed – a horrifying 52% – had been a victim of either rape or other forms of sexual violence, 44% of all interviewees reported having being beaten, and 47% reported that a family member had been killed. All the victims' testimonies report that it was the Myanmar security forces that perpetrated these violations, sometimes in collaboration with ethnic Rakhine villagers. These security forces consist of the Myanmar Army, the Border Guard Police, and the Police Force.

 

While the information and data from the report is deeply disturbing, it is also corroborated by reports from findings of gross and widespread human rights violations from international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

 

In response to the OHCHR report, the Myanmar Government has demonstrated a wholly inadequate and ineffective response. Initially, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's office requested more information from OHCHR, while the Myanmar Army has since  established its own investigation team to find out if any military personnel committed unlawful acts. This is the third committee set up regarding Rakhine State in recent months and it is becoming very clear that they are merely political tools for the Myanmar Government and the Myanmar Army to hide behind in order to avoid accountability. The Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, established in September 2016 does not have the mandate to investigate human rights abuses. Rather its mandate is "to submit recommendations to the Government on how it may promote reconciliation, strengthen local institutions, advance development, resolve conflict, and provide humanitarian assistance, in Rakhine State."

 

The second commission, established in December 2016 - the national level Investigation Commission on Rakhine State - is led by the notoriously hardline former military General, Vice-President Myint Swe. In its interim report released in January 2017, it stated, "the Bengali population residing in Maungtaw region, the increasing population of Mawlawi, mosques and religious edifices are proof that there were no cases of genocide and religious persecution in the region." The usage of the term 'Bengali,' which is used to deny even the existence of the Rohingya, and the denial of any wrongdoing by the Myanmar Army despite the wealth of evidence and documentation that plainly show otherwise clearly discredits this commission. The third commission established by the very perpetrators of the documented human rights violations – the Myanmar Army – needs no explanation as to why it should not be taken seriously as an impartial investigation.

 

The grave human rights violations, the very real possibility of crimes against humanity, and the ineffective, inadequate response on behalf of the Myanmar Government necessitates a collective response by the international community. As the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng stated; "I am concerned that the Government Commission, which had unhindered access to the location of the incidents, found nothing to substantiate the claims, while OHCHR, which was not given access to the area, found an overwhelming number of testimonies and other forms of evidence through interviews with refugees who had fled to a neighbouring country. The existing Commission is not a credible option to undertake the new investigation. I urge that any investigation be conducted by a truly independent and impartial body that includes international observers." Thus, Progressive Voice supports and calls for the UN Human Rights Council, which meets in March 2016, to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the widespread human rights violations and to catalyze further action that seeks accountability, justice and promote measures to end the persecution of the Rohingya in Rakhine State.

 


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term 'Myanmar' in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of 'Myanmar' rather than 'Burma' without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten.

 

 

LATEST FROM THE BLOG

 

Remembering U Ko Ni: An Irreplaceable Loss to Myanmar

By Progressive Voice

 

 

STATEMENTS AND PRESS RELEASES  

 

ND-Burma 2016 Report Finds Dramatic Increase Human Rights Violations
By Network for Human Rights Documentation - Burma


ND-Burma မွ ျပဳစုုထားသည့္ ၂၀၁၆ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးအေျခအေန အစီရင္ခံစာအရ လူ႔အခြင့္အ ေရးက်ဴးလြန္ခ်ိဳးေဖာက္မႈမ်ား သိသိသာသာ မ်ားျပားလာျခင္း
By Network for Human Rights Documentation - Burma


News from our Regional Offices
By Universal Periodic Review

 

International Organizations Urge Burma/Myanmar Govt: Stop the Hate
By 34 International Organization
s

 

Statement by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide following OHCHR's report on the situation in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar
By Adama Dieng / United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide       

 

Statement by His Eminence Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Cardinal Archbishop of Yangon
By Cardinal Charles Maung Bo     

  

Burma: Security Forces Raped Rohingya Women, Girls
By Human Rights Watch

 

Statement from Karen Women's Movement  Second Karen Women's Seminar  
By Karen Women's Organization

 

 

 

About Progressive Voice

 

Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 the same day that Progressive Voice was formally established. For further information, please see our press release "Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice."

     




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Progressive Voice | info@progressive-voice.org | Progressive Voice | PO Box 188 | Mae Sot, Tak 63110, Thailand

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As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,
"Justice is a dream. But it is a dream we are determined to realize."