» 02/25/2012, 00.00
Human Rights Watch: Burma's military regime as "violent as ever"
David Mathieson of Human Rights Watch says the army is impervious to change and perpetrates abuses and violations. Among the soldiers reigns a "culture of sadism". The government promotes reforms, but noy the real changes necessary to amend the constitution.
Yangon (AsiaNews /
Agencies) - The Burmese army is impervious to change and democratic reform and
continues to commit "serious human rights violations" despite the
government's attempt to modernize - also in political terms - Myanmar., denounces as a longtime
activist for Human Rights Watch (HRW), who has just completed a stay in the
country of South-east Asia and has not witnessed any "remarkable" change.
"In spite of the changes underway - he warns - it is concerning that the
army has not shown any intention of changing."
For months the government headed by President Thein Sein, made up of civilians,
but supported by the military, has started a campaign of reform, which has led
to the release of - part of - political prisoners, the return of Aung San Suu
Kyi and the League National Alliance for Democracy (NLD) and into the political
sphere and dialogue with ethnic minorities in view of a peace agreement.
However, the proposals for change are opposed by the powerful military wing,
which still dominates in Myanmar
while moving "behind the scenes." David Mathieson, a longtime
investigator with the New York
based group, warns that the reforms so far promoted by Thein Sein can be
"reversed" with ease, especially if there are no substantial changes
to the Penal Code and the Constitution, amendable only with approval of the
army. And the military regime, he adds, still remains "as violent as
The Human Rights Watch activist points out that the military front is resistant
to change and "nobody knows what happens inside." However, "culture
of sadism" remains a widespread. One element that is especially evident in
the ongoing battles against rebel militias in Kachin State in northern Myanmar,
on the border with China, where soldiers fire on civilians, devastate property
and force people ino forced labor and
rape women and girls regardless of their age.
Finally, David Mathieson points the finger at what he calls the "paradox
of Burma Today", where you can discuss topics and issues that were taboo in
the past, while " violations of human rights continue." The
government has released "many prominent leaders" among political
prisoners and activists, the expert at Human Rights Watch concludes, but
"hundreds more still remain imprisoned by the Burmese" and their
exact number remains a mystery.
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