International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Weekly Highlights: No End in Sight for Myanmar Army’s Continued Reign of Terror

    

 

No End in Sight for Myanmar Army's Continued Reign of Terror

 

 

Burma Army troops in Muse on Nov. 22, 2016

Photo credit: Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy.

 

 

 

The Northern Alliance-Burma (NA-B) – a group composed of the Kachin Independence Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army – was branded as a "terrorist organization" by the Shan State parliament last week. This move ran counter to the Union Parliament, which refused to label the group as terrorists. The state parliament, which is led by a majority shared between the military-backed, Union Solidarity and Development Party and the Myanmar[1] Army, has received considerable criticism for its re-branding of the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) fighting in northern Shan State. A spokesperson for the TNLA, Col Tar Phone Kyaw, offered his perspective on the recent development through Facebook, stating, "This only proves how the Burma Army does not have genuine intentions for the peace process. It proves they don't want to have peace in this country. They only want us to follow their instructions. Now more fighting will come soon."

132 civil society organizations had previously condemned the intensified military pressure in northern Shan State, claiming that it was compromising national reconciliation and the potential for open dialogue between parties to the conflict. The US Embassy also echoed this in their own statement released on 12 December, while urging for an end to human rights abuses and to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the region. Unfortunately, the Myanmar Army continues to ignore these calls as it carries on provoking conflict and committing severe human rights violations throughout the region. The Shan Human Rights Foundation has reported on the torture of three civilians, including a 16-year-old boy, and the shooting of an unarmed farmer over the past month alone. Unfortunately, the decision to brand NA-B as a terrorist organization will likely only justify further military operations in northern Shan State by the Myanmar Army, likely at the expense of further civilian casualties.

Meanwhile in Rakhine State, a military crackdown has left tens of thousands of civilians without access to humanitarian aid for almost two months, including children facing acute malnutrition. The current situation is a product of the retaliation by Myanmar's security forces after an alleged attack on a Border Police Post and has now been identified as a major humanitarian crisis by the international community. In a joint statement released on 9 December, the embassies of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States called on the Myanmar Government to avoid delays in restoring humanitarian aid to civilians in need. The Karen Women's Organization has also joined in on condemning the Myanmar Army, citing at least 192 reports of rape allegedly committed by the security forces in Rakhine State in just over one month alone. Figures from the United Nations published in November show that at least 30,000 people have been displaced and also note a high number of reports regarding gross violations of human rights as a result of the Myanmar Army's security operations.

So far, the Myanmar Government has largely failed to address the root causes behind the conflict in Rakhine State, going so far as to condemn the international community for provoking resentment between Rakhine Buddhists and the long-persecuted Rohingya minority. Despite overwhelming evidence suggesting otherwise, the head of the Myanmar Army, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has also continuously refuted allegations that the Myanmar Army has committed extrajudicial killings, rapes and arson against the Rohingya. The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, a newly created body led by Kofi Annan to make recommendations for the "peace and prosperity" of Rakhine State, has so far failed to make any substantive progress towards a solution in the region. A statement from Kofi Annan assuring a restoration of humanitarian aid in Rakhine State failed to specify precisely when aid would be restored, for how long military operations would continue, or how to stop the abuses on the ground.


Over the last few months, the Myanmar Army's involvement in intensifying conflict and committing human rights abuses throughout Rakhine State, Kachin State and Shan State have illuminated its key role in delaying the country's much-needed peace process. The National League for Democracy-led Government, seemingly silent and unwilling to condemn the military's actions, continues to demonstrate severe inaction. The only pathway to Myanmar's dire need of national reconciliation is for the Myanmar Army to immediately cease military operations throughout the country, and for the Myanmar Government to bring the armed forces under its control while engaging in genuine peace talks with EAOs. Only then the terror against vulnerable ethnic and religious minority populations of Myanmar inflicted by the Myanmar Army, the most powerful state institution, will come to an end and conditions for peace and security for the people of Myanmar will be established.

 


[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.

 

 

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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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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."