No End in Sight for Myanmar Army’s Continued Reign of Terror

The Northern Alliance-Burma (NA-B) – a group composed of the Kachin Independence Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army – was branded as a “terrorist organization” by the Shan State parliament last week. This move ran counter to the Union Parliament, which refused to label the group as terrorists. The state parliament, which is led by a majority shared between the military-backed, Union Solidarity and Development Party and the Myanmar[1] Army, has received considerable criticism for its re-branding of the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) fighting in northern Shan State. A spokesperson for the TNLA, Col Tar Phone Kyaw, offered his perspective on the recent development through Facebook, stating,

“This only proves how the Burma Army does not have genuine intentions for the peace process. It proves they don’t want to have peace in this country. They only want us to follow their instructions. Now more fighting will come soon.”

132 civil society organizations had previously condemned the intensified military pressure in northern Shan State, claiming that it was compromising national reconciliation and the potential for open dialogue between parties to the conflict. The US Embassy also echoed this in their own statement released on 12 December, while urging for an end to human rights abuses and to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the region. Unfortunately, the Myanmar Army continues to ignore these calls as it carries on provoking conflict and committing severe human rights violations throughout the region. The Shan Human Rights Foundation has reported on the torture of three civilians, including a 16-year-old boy, and the shooting of an unarmed farmer over the past month alone. Unfortunately, the decision to brand NA-B as a terrorist organization will likely only justify further military operations in northern Shan State by the Myanmar Army, likely at the expense of further civilian casualties.

Meanwhile in Rakhine State, a military crackdown has left tens of thousands of civilians without access to humanitarian aid for almost two months, including children facing acute malnutrition. The current situation is a product of the retaliation by Myanmar’s security forces after an alleged attack on a Border Police Post and has now been identified as a major humanitarian crisis by the international community. In a joint statement released on 9 December, the embassies of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States called on the Myanmar Government to avoid delays in restoring humanitarian aid to civilians in need. The Karen Women’s Organization has also joined in on condemning the Myanmar Army, citing at least 192 reports of rape allegedly committed by the security forces in Rakhine State in just over one month alone. Figures from the United Nations published in November show that at least 30,000 people have been displaced and also note a high number of reports regarding gross violations of human rights as a result of the Myanmar Army’s security operations.

So far, the Myanmar Government has largely failed to address the root causes behind the conflict in Rakhine State, going so far as to condemn the international community for provoking resentment between Rakhine Buddhists and the long-persecuted Rohingya minority. Despite overwhelming evidence suggesting otherwise, the head of the Myanmar Army, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has also continuously refuted allegations that the Myanmar Army has committed extrajudicial killings, rapes and arson against the Rohingya. The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, a newly created body led by Kofi Annan to make recommendations for the “peace and prosperity” of Rakhine State, has so far failed to make any substantive progress towards a solution in the region. A statement from Kofi Annan assuring a restoration of humanitarian aid in Rakhine State failed to specify precisely when aid would be restored, for how long military operations would continue, or how to stop the abuses on the ground.

The only pathway to Myanmar’s dire need of national reconciliation is for the Myanmar Army to immediately cease military operations throughout the country.

Over the last few months, the Myanmar Army’s involvement in intensifying conflict and committing human rights abuses throughout Rakhine State, Kachin State and Shan State have illuminated its key role in delaying the country’s much-needed peace process. The National League for Democracy-led Government, seemingly silent and unwilling to condemn the military’s actions, continues to demonstrate severe inaction. The only pathway to Myanmar’s dire need of national reconciliation is for the Myanmar Army to immediately cease military operations throughout the country, and for the Myanmar Government to bring the armed forces under its control while engaging in genuine peace talks with EAOs. Only then the terror against vulnerable ethnic and religious minority populations of Myanmar inflicted by the Myanmar Army, the most powerful state institution, will come to an end and conditions for peace and security for the people of Myanmar will be established.

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[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week

actions

Statements and Press Releases

On Human Rights Day, Regional Legislators Stand in Solidarity, Highlight Role of Parliaments in Defending Rights for All
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Burma Rivers Network: New video exposes impacts of large dam projects on communities across Burma, on Shweli, Paung Laung, Chindwin, Irrawaddy and Salween rivers
By Burma Rivers Network

Statement by the Diplomatic Missions of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States on Humanitarian Access to northern part of Rakhine State
By Diplomatic Missions of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States

APHR welcomes Malaysian government’s statements on Rakhine State crisis, but urges regional action to protect Rohingya
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

MP Requests Halt to Trade Negotiations in Light of Rohingya Crisis
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

CSW Calls for Action on Atrocity Crimes Ahead of UN Genocide Prevention Day

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Remarks by Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State
By Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State

KWO Message: On-going Sexual Violence by Burma Army
By Karen Women’s Organization

Note to Correspondents: Statement by Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary-General on Myanmar
By Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary-General on Myanmar

Statement by Myanmar National Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day which falls on the 10th of December 2016
By Myanmar National Human Rights Commission

Joint Statement: Rohingya Thank Malaysia – Request to Promote UN Inquiry
By 14 Rohingya Organizations

ရွမ္းျပည္နယ္လႊတ္ေတာ္သုိ႔ အရပ္ဖက္အဖဲြ႔ အစည္းမ်ားႏွင့္ တုိင္းရင္းသားျပည္သူမ်ား၏ အိတ္ဖြင့္ေပးစာ
By 130 Civil Society Organizations

reports

Reports

It’s Not Over: Displacement Continues in Karen State
By Free Burma Rangers

Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016
By Karen Human Rights Group

Burma Army tortures three farmers, and shoots one farmer in Mong Yen, northern Shan State
By Shan Human Rights Foundation


Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”

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