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  • » 02/25/2012, 00.00

    MYANMAR

    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 ever."

    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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    See also

    18/05/2011 MYANMAR
    Release of 36 Burmese activists a “pathetic response” to demands for democracy
    President Thein Sein is set to reduce prisoners’ sentences by a year and commute death penalties to life in prison. With the measure, 19 members of the National League for Democracy are released. Human rights activists call for the release of the more than 2,000 political prisoners held in Burmese jails, describe the government’s amnesty as a “sick joke”.

    03/07/2009 MYANMAR – UNITED NATIONS
    Ban Ki-moon in Myanmar to seek Aung San Suu Kyi’s release
    The United Nations secretary general is set to meet the military regime’s strongman to ask for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners as well as free and fair elections. He might meet opposition and Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi whose trial has been postponed to 10 July.

    04/02/2015 MYANMAR - UN
    Myanmar’s junta slams UN over interference in internal affairs
    The Burmese government targets the Special Representative Yanghee Lee, who highlighted discrimination against the Rohingya and criticized the law governing marriages and conversions. Foreign Ministry "invites" UN to carry out its work in a "professional and prudent" manner. In recent weeks, the woman was already the subject of abuse by a Buddhist Monk.

    08/09/2011 MYANMAR - UN
    Ban Ki-moon condemns Burmese government over political prisoners
    The UN Secretary-General appreciates the timid reforms of Naypyidaw, but calls for the release of over two thousand prisoners of conscience. Doubts about the effectiveness of the newly formed National Commission for Human Rights. The United States to appoint a special representative.

    20/01/2011 MYANMAR - INDIA
    Tint Swe: The military junta - not sanctions – cause of Burmese people’s suffering
    The representative of the exiled government is against the idea of removing the U.S. and the EU embargo on the dictatorship. Increased trade and investment, would only serve to enrich those in power. ASEAN launches appeal for the lifting of the sanctions, never defends the oppressed people.



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