Myanmar’s degenerating human rights situation: Bad example of Western-style democratic movement

02/04/2017

This article spares to talk about Myanmar, country which has been seen as a symbol of Western-style democratic revolution after the formation of a new civilian-led government following the November 2015 elections in which the National League for Democracy won a landslide victory. Htin Kyaw was elected as President and the formal transfer of power took place the same month. Aung San Suu Kyi remained constitutionally barred from holding the presidency but in April was appointed State Counsellor, a role created especially for her, which made her the de facto leader of the civilian government.
Unfortunately, things are not as dreams. The new civilian-led government, which took office in March 2016, has failed to meet expectations to carry out significant reforms. Religious intolerance and anti-Muslim sentiment intensified. Fighting between the army and ethnic armed groups escalated in northern Myanmar. Authorities continue to use repressive laws to arrest and prosecute activists for criticizing the government or military. In late 2016, the army carried out a brutal crackdown on ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, including extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, and widespread arson. Ongoing fighting between the military and ethnic armed groups has intensified in Shan and Kachin States, causing mass displacement. The government increased restrictions on access for UN and other humanitarian agencies to displaced communities.
The Rohingya people have been described as "amongst the world's least wanted" and "one of the world's most persecuted minorities." The Rohingya are deprived of the right to free movement and of higher education. They have been denied Burmese citizenship since the Burmese nationality law was enacted. They are not allowed to travel without official permission and were previously required to sign a commitment not to have more than two children, though the law was not strictly enforced. They are subjected to routine forced labour where typically a Rohingya man will have to give up one day a week to work on military or government projects and one night for sentry duty. The government actually denies the existence of any ethnic group named "Rohingya." It often considers this group to be "Bengali," formed of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite the fact that Rohingya have lived in the Rakhine State for generations. The Rohingya have also lost a lot of arable land, which has been confiscated by the military to give to Buddhist settlers from elsewhere in Myanmar.
In November 2016, Human Rights Watch released satellite images which showed that approximately 1,250 Rohingya houses in five villages had been burned down by the security forces. The media and the human rights groups frequently reported intense human rights violations by the Myanmar military. Those who fled Myanmar to escape persecution reported that women had been gang raped, men killed, houses torched, and young children thrown into burning houses. The boats carrying Rohingya refugees on Naf River were often gunned down by the Myanmar military.
The military crackdown on Rohingya people drew criticism from various quarters. Human rights group Amnesty International and organizations such as the United Nations have labeled the military crackdown on the Rohingya minority as crimes against humanity and have said that the military had made the civilians a target of "a systematic campaign of violence".
In December 2016, the United Nations strongly criticized the Myanmar government for its poor treatment of the Rohingya people, and called its approach "callous". The United Nations also called on Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar (de facto head of government) and a Nobel laureate, to take steps to stop violence against the Rohingyas. In its report released in February 2017, the UN stated that the persecution of the Rohingya had included serious human rights violations. The UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad Al Hussein stated "The cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable – what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother's milk?"
On 3 February 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report based on interviews with more than 200 Rohingya refugees, which said that the abuses included gang-rape, mass killing, and killing children.
The U.S. Department of State has also expressed concern about the violence in Rakhine State and the displacement of Rohingyas. The government of Malaysia has condemned the crackdown in Rakhine State, with ongoing protests in the country.
The European Union on Thursday 17th March, submitted a draft resolution to the U.N. Human Rights Council calling for an immediate international probe of human rights violations by the military against Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, calling on the Myanmar government under de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to fully cooperate with a fact-finding mission and make available findings of domestic investigations of abuses of Rohingya Muslims
Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized in particular for her silence and lack of action over the issue, as well as for failing to prevent human rights abuses by the military. She stated in response: "show me a country without human rights issues." The former head of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, after a week-long visit in the Rakhine state, expressed deep concern about reports of human rights violations in the area. He was leading a nine-member commission which was formed in August 2016 to look into the situations in the state and to make recommendations on improving the situation there.
The Rohingya crisis is, first of all, a political issue in Myanmar. The ultimate solution lies in the granting citizenship and ensuring equal rights in their ancestral home. Unfortunately, the United Nations and influential states have done nothing more than criticize. For powerful neighbors such as India or China, but also for many global players, Myanmar is an untapped resource and investment hub waiting to be explored. It has become evident that the humanitarian intervention is reserved for strategic and business usefulness, not to protect the most vulnerable.
Until a permanent solution is found in Myanmar, it is the responsibility of the UN, the U.S., Western countries and many human rights organizations that all have supported for Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to join hands in ensuring that Rohingya people can live with basic human rights and dignity. Now, those can not cite Burma as an example of democracy and human rights any more./.
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All comments [ 9 ]


John Smith 2/4/17 16:15

The formation of a new civilian-led government did not lead to significant improvements in the human rights situation in Myanmar. The persecuted Rohingya minority faced increased violence and discrimination.

Gentle Moon 2/4/17 16:16

The Burmese government should urgently endorse an independent, international investigation into alleged abuses in northern Rakhine State.

LawrenceSamuels 2/4/17 16:18

No longer dream about the democratic symbol of Aung San Suu Kyi!

Love Peace 2/4/17 19:20

The situation in Rakhine State is grim, in part due to a mix of long-term historical tensions between the Rakhine and Rohingya communities, socio-political conflict, socio-economic underdevelopment, and a long-standing marginalization of both Rakhine and Rohingya by the Government of Burma.

MaskOf Zero 2/4/17 19:21

The World Bank estimates Rakhine State has the highest poverty rate in Burma (78 percent) and is the poorest state in the country.

Only Solidar 2/4/17 20:19

According to media reports, hundreds of Rohingya people had been killed, and many had fled Myanmar as refugees to take shelter in the nearby areas of Bangladesh.

Pack Cassiopian 2/4/17 20:21

The army and police were stated to have burned "homes, schools, markets, shops, and mosques" belonging to or used by the Rohingya people.

Deck Hero14 2/4/17 20:23

Now, Western nations and those human rights activists would not dare to cite Myanmar as an example for Vietnam.

Gentle Moon 2/4/17 20:25

Vietnam has done and achieved many development goals in promoting people's life and human rights.

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