Burma: Human rights situation has deteriorated since the end of the military dictatorship

UN Special Representative expected (on 21st of August)

Five months after the establishment of a civil government in Burma, the human rights situation in the Southeast Asian country has become worse than it was during the previous military dictatorship. This was stated by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) on Sunday – before the United Nations Special Representative, Tomas Quintana, visited Burma to check on the human rights situation in the multiethnic state. "The political prisoners, about 2.000 of them, were not released and more than 30.000 civilians were forced to flee from new military operations in the regions that are mostly inhabited by ethnic minorities," reported the STP's expert on questions regarding Asia, Ulrich Delius. "Arbitrary land confiscation, rape and forced labor are part of everyday life for the ethnic minorities in Burma."

The army systematically uses rape as a weapon of war in the nationality areas. At least 32 women and Girls of the Kachin people were raped by soldiers between 9th of June and 26th of July 2011 in the Kachin State and 13 people were killed because the were eyewitnesses to the rape. The perpetrators came from five different battalions of the Burmese Army. In the village of Bung Dum, three families had not been able to flee from the advancing soldiers. Six girls and women were gang raped by soldiers, seven children murdered. In a settlement called Je Sawn, a seven-year-old girl was killed – then her grandmother was raped and murdered. A twelve-year-old was raped in front of her mother. When she tried to protect her daughter, she was beaten.

At least 31.700 people were forced to flee from the states of Kachin and Shan because of military attacks. According to the STP, numerous lootings, arbitrary arrests, torture and cases of forced labor took place in Shan State. "More than 50 assaults of soldiers on the civilian population were registered by us in Shan State alone since the new government took over office in mid-April 2011," said Delius. "Back then they had promised to improve the human rights situation, but it has now become clear, that the new leadership of Burma does not stand for democratic change – as claimed by the German federal government – but for an escalation of the civil war and ethnic cleansing." According to the STP, military personnel is still in power in the multiethnic state. Many former military officers are now part of the new government. After a faked election, it has now replaced a military dictatorship that ruled for more than 20 years.