Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Human Rights Abuses in Burma (part 1)

Since the military regime took power by force in 1962 the people of Burma have consistently suffered some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. Dictator General Than Shwe has for successive years sat third on Amnesty International’s list of the ten worst dictators, above the likes of Robert Mugabe and Hu Jintao, while practically every human rights campaign in the world has severely criticised the regimes treatment of the Burmese people. Furthermore the appalling human rights abuses recognised by many national governments and by the UN; Secretary General Kofi Annan has criticised the regimes human rights record on over thirty occasions and Tony Blair met a delegation from Burma Campaign UK on democracy leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi’s 60th birthday. Major multinational investors,
including BAT and Heineken, have also expressed their disgust at the countries human righ ts abuses, both companies withdrew investments worth tens of millions in response to protests from human rights groups. British businessman Philip Green was prepared to openly criticise the regime first ceasing investments from his arcadia group,
“…We do support a stand against Burma, as you know, through our action to cease sourcing from there” [1]
and then from his other company, BHS,
“Having reviewed the BHS supply chain, I can confirm that there were historical ties with a supplier in Burma. This link is now terminated and there will be no further business conducted within Burma.” [2]
Even companies criticized for their own human rights record have been appalled by the atrocities in Burma, in 2000 Adidas stated:
“Adidas-Salomon is very concerned about the human rights record of the military regime in Burma/Myanmar. Consequently we stopped sourcing products from there in 1999…none of our products have been made there since”. [3]
Since November 2003 Paulo Sergio Pinherio the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma has been denied access to the country by the regime, a sign that the generals themselves, as well as the rest of the world, recognize that Burma suffers under quite possibly the worst human rights abuses on the planet.

Oppressions-Burma is renowned for the oppression of basic freedoms; all of which the Burmese people, except those at the highest level of government, are deprived of. Freedom of speech, a basic human right, is non-existent; with severe penalties for anybody criticizing the regime or its policies. Perhaps the most obvious example of this, along with the regimes oppression of three politics, is the detention of Aung Sung Suu Kyi-the leader of the main opposition party; the National League for Democracy. After the NLD won 80% of the vote in 1990 at the countries only election since the military takeover, Suu Kyi was imprisoned by the regime. She remains under house arrest unable to talk to her supporters or become involved in the politics of the country she, by rights, should lead. Furthermore NLD deputy U Tin Oo and other NLD officials have been sentenced at closed trials and remain detained in order to prevent organized freedom of speech against the regime. [4] In 2003 when the regime believed Suu Kyi’s publicity would have declined she was released but after hundreds of thousands of Burmese in favor of democracy followed her at speeches around the country the regime attacked her supporters killing at least three hundred and once more arresting Suu Kyi. On October 24th amid outcry from around the world Suu Kyi reached ten cumulative years in captivity as a result of political speeches, peacefully rallies and tremendous support.
Brutal as the 2003 arrest of Suu Kyi was, however, the military regimes most barbaric oppression of freedom of speech is the notorious 8888 massacre in Rangoon. On August 8th 1888 the first general strike held under military rule occurred and hundreds of thousands of workers and monks, led by students marched into Rangoon to demand democracy. In response the military attacked the peaceful protest and murdered over 3000 protesters, an atrocity worse than that of Tiananmen Square the following year. Aye Chang Naing, a student at the time described the massacre,
“I still vividly remember the sound of gun fire, people shouting for help, smoke from the crematorium chimney and the swearing of evil men during the summer of 1988 that claimed the lives of thousands of peaceful demonstrators…. Around 100 students were beaten to death or drowned in the lake that afternoon. I felt great pain and anger.” This demonstrates the total absence of any freedom of speech under a regime that will go to any lengths to prevent it.
[1] Burma Campaign UK
[3] Burma Campaign UK
[2] Burma Campaign UK
[4] Metta (Burmese human rights and democracy magazine)

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?