Dry Season Dread

As the horrors of the Myanmar[1] Army’s campaigns of atrocities in Rakhine State are condemned by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, dry season military offensives against ethnic Kachin, Karen, and Ta’ang minorities, demonstrate how this violence is both nationwide and systematic.

Civilians in Tanai Township, Kachin State, are experiencing the second Myanmar Army offensive of the season against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the first of which displaced 900 people as the region’s amber mines were targeted. Clashes have also continued in northern Shan State against the Ta’ang National Liberation Army since the start of 2018. Civilians are not only experiencing displacement, but egregious human rights violations committed by the Myanmar Army troops are commonplace. Two internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Maing Hkawng IDP camp in Kachin State who disappeared after leaving the camp to return to their home village in January 2018 were found dead last week. Eyewitnesses had last seen them handcuffed and detained by the Myanmar Army.

While the KIA does not have a ceasefire agreement with the central Government, the Karen National Union (KNU), in southeastern Myanmar, is one of the few major EAOs that is a signatory to the nationwide ceasefire agreement. This, however, has not stopped the Myanmar Army breaking the terms of the agreement and entering KNU territory to build a road – a project which many local villagers fear is part of the Myanmar Army’s strategy to exploit ceasefire conditions to gain a stronger political, economic, and military hold in an area that is a traditional KNU stronghold. The resulting clashes between the KNU and the Myanmar Army have displaced almost 2,000 villagers, who have already experienced displacement during previous conflicts between the Myanmar Army and the KNU and are in need of food and medical supplies. As the Karen Peace Support Network, the largest Karen civil society network consisting of over 20 ethnic Karen civil society and community-based organizations expressed in a statement, “as long as the Burmese military continues to expand and entrench its positions in Karen territory, villagers will experience fear, insecurity, and threats to their lives, livelihoods, and culture.”

“As long as the Burmese military continues to expand and entrench its positions in Karen territory, villagers will experience fear, insecurity, and threats to their lives, livelihoods, and culture.”

The plight of the Rohingya of Rakhine State, most of whom have been forced to flee to Bangladesh after a campaign of mass murder, rape, torture and burning of villages, is also continuing. After a visit to the Rohingya refugee camps, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights described how the Myanmar Army is engaged in a “campaign of terror and forced starvation,” in the areas of northern Rakhine State where Rohingya remain. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated at the HRC that he “has strong suspicions that acts of genocide may have taken place in Rakhine State since August.”

More and more civil society organizations are calling for the perpetrators of the systematic, institutionalized rights violations to be held accountable. Rewarding the Myanmar Army with nearly $400,000 worth of assistance for English language lessons and event attendance, as the Australian Government has done, however, does not demonstrate a commitment to justice and accountability. As the Karen Women’s Organization impassioned call on International Women’s Day states, “It is time to place meaningful sanctions on the Army until real peace, democracy and human rights are established. Their time is up. We have waited too long, our time is now. No women from Burma of any background should experience these attacks, not the Rohingya, not the Shan, not the Kachin and not the Karen.”

“It is time to place meaningful sanctions on the Army until real peace, democracy and human rights are established. Their time is up. We have waited too long, our time is now. No women from Burma of any background should experience these attacks, not the Rohingya, not the Shan, not the Kachin and not the Karen.”

Thus, the international community, meeting now in Geneva, must take decisive steps to refer the Myanmar Army to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the crimes it has committed, not only against the Rohingya, but all ethnic minorities in Myanmar. In addition to the ICC referral, governments should pursue options for the application of universal jurisdiction to hold members of the Myanmar Army accountable, starting with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Min Aung Hlaing. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also stressed that the HRC “ask the General Assembly to establish a new independent and impartial mechanism to prepare and expedite criminal proceedings in courts against those responsible.” Such international mechanisms were established for exactly these atrocities – as seen in the cases of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria – and must be utilized in regards to Myanmar to seek redress for the victims of state sponsored violence in ethnic and religious minority areas for the horrors they and their communities have experienced, generation after generation. Only then will the impunity of the Myanmar Army end, the rights of the long persecuted ethnic and religious minorities will be protected, and Myanmar will be able to truly move forward as a society where sustainable peace, harmony and human dignity for its peoples is possible.

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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

Myanmar: Forced Starvation of Rohingya Highlights Danger of Premature Returns
By Amnesty International

New Report from APHR: Summary of Findings from Mission to Bangladesh Covering the Rohingya Crisis

By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

The Rohingya Crisis: Past, Present, and Future
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Justice and Protection for Rohingya Women and Girls – in Support of Call for Unilever to Disinvest from Myanmar
By Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape

Burma: Withdraw Proposed Changes to Assembly Law
By Human Rights Watch

Press Release: Historic New “End Genocide Bill” Introduced in Maryland General Assembly
By International Campaign for the Rohingya

ISCG Statement On International Women’s Day Time is Now: We are all Responsible for Transforming Women’s and girls’ lives
By Inter Sector Coordination Group

Press Release by Karenni National Progressive Party
By Karenni National Progressive Party

ကရင္နီအမ်ိဳးသားတိုးတက္ေရးပါတီ သတင္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္
By Karenni National Progressive Party

Burma/Myanmar Military Aggression Violates the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and Endangers Villagers in Mutraw District, Karen State
By Karen Peace Support Network

ကရင္ျပည္နယ္ မူတေရာခရို္င္အတြင္း ဗမာ(ျမန္မာ)တပ္မေတာ္၏ က်ဴးေက်ာ္တုိက္ခုိက္မႈသည္ တစ္ႏုိင္ငံလုံးပတ္ခတ္တုိက္မႈရပ္စဲေရး သေဘာတူညီမႈစာခ်ဳပ္ကုိ ခ်ိဳးေဖာက္ျခင္း ႏွင့္ ရြာသားမ်ားအား ေဘးအႏၱရာယ္ျဖစ္ေစျခင္း
By Karen Peace Support Network

Myanmar: Senior UN Human Rights Official Decries Continued Ethnic Cleansing in Rakhine State
By Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Statement by Talong Villager, northern Shan State
By Talong Villagers, northern Shan State

တာလုံရြာသူရြာသားမ်ား၏ သေဘာထားထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကာဌာခ်က္
By Talong Villagers, northern Stan State

UNHCR Appeals for Protection of Rohingya Currently Trapped on Myanmar-Bangladesh Border
By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
By UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

Women’s League of Burma: Statement on International Women’s Day “Press for Progress”
By Women’s League of Burma

အမ်ိဳးသမီးမ်ားအဖြဲ႕ခ်ဳပ္ (ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ) မွ ႏိုင္ငံတကာအမ်ိဳးသမီးမ်ားေန႔အထိမ္းအမွတ္ အတြက္ ထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္
By Women’s League of Burma

Karen Women’s Organization Statement on International Women’s Day (2018)
By Karen Women’s Organization

ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းစြာ စုေ၀းျခင္းနွင့္ စီတန္းလွည့္လည္ျခင္းဆုိင္ရာဥပေဒကို ျပင္ဆင္သည့္ ဥပေဒၾကမ္းအေပၚ အရပ္ဘက္အဖြဲ႔အစည္းမ်ား၏ သေဘာထားထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္
By  230 Myanmar Civil Society Organizations and 25 Individuals

reports

Reports

“No one was left”: Death and Violence Against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, Myanmar
By Doctors Without Borders

Activism & Agency: The Female Experience of Political Imprisonment
By The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

ႏိုင္ငံေရးလႈပ္ရွားမႈမ်ားႏွင့္၎တုိ႔ပါဝင္ေဆာင္ရြက္ခဲ့မႈမ်ား။ ။ အမ်ိဳးသမီးႏုိင္ငံေရးအက်ဥ္းသူမ်ား၏ အက်ဥ္းက်ခံရစဥ္ကေတြ႔ႀကံဳခံစားခဲ့ရမႈမ်ား
By The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Briefing Paper: The UNFC’s Continuing Role to Seek the Federal Union
By United Nationalities Federal Council (Union of Burma)


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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