In October, Burmese Army soldiers killed freelance journalist Par Gyi (also known as Aung Kyaw Naing). He was covering the conflict in Mon State, where fighting broke out in September.
The army said that Par Gyi had been shot while trying to escape and claimed he was working for an ethnic armed group. However, this claim has been widely dismissed. Par Gyi is a well-known activist and journalist and worked as a security guard for Aung San Suu Kyi during the 1988 democracy uprising.
As pressure increased for an investigation into his death, his body was exhumed and has been sent for post mortem examination. Witnesses at the exhumation say that there were signs that he had been tortured.
His murder is a shocking reminder of how extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture are still being used against citizens in Burma.
The murder of Par Gyi comes at a time when journalists in Burma are facing increased threats and intimidations. Journalists have been arrested under criminal charges and given long prison sentences, like the Bi Mon Te Nay journalists recently sentenced to two years on prison.
UN human rights rapporteur warns of "backtracking" on reforms
The new UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, has warned of "signs of possible backtracking" on reforms and a "shrinking of democratic space".
In her report to the UN General Assembly, she highlighted the continued detention of political prisoners and the use of repressive laws, the ongoing conflict in Kachin and Shan States, religious discrimination and hate speech, serious human rights violations by the Burmese army, including attacks on civilians, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and torture, and the systematic discrimination and persecution against Rohingya.
Despite the growing human rights abuses in Burma, the British government continues to focus on promoting trade. When questioned in parliament recently, Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire avoided talking about the fact that the number of political prisoners in Burma has more than doubled so far this year. He also avoided answering a question about whether or not he shared concerns expressed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Burma about the backtracking of reforms.
This news update shows just some of the terrible ongoing human rights abuses in Burma, and how Burma Campaign UK is working tirelessly to end them. We won't let the international community forget about human rights, and we will always be holding the British government to account for their policies, and pressuring them to return to putting human rights first.
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