You Cannot Ignore Us: Victims of Human Rights Violations
(Yangon – 16 October, 2018) Victims of human rights violations desire government reparations and deserve to see justice for what they have suffered, said the Reparations Working Group initiated by the Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma) in a new report released today. The report, which is the first ever needs assessment of victims of human rights violations in Burma, offers preliminary recommendations for action that must be taken for victims of human rights violations to rebuild their lives, including justice and accountability for the abuses they have suffered and guarantees of non-recurrence.
The new report, You cannot ignore us: Victims of human rights violations from 1970 – 2017 outline their desires for justice, is based on interviews with 170 individuals in 11 states and regions. The cases present the testimonies of survivors from Burma’s 70-year civil war, former political prisoners, and land grab victims. The majority of interviewees have experienced either the repression of the 1988 student-led protests against the military-run Burmese Socialist Programme Party, the military operation during the 1991 Bogalay crisis in Irrawaddy Region, or the ongoing armed conflict in northern Shan and Kachin states. Victims and their families have suffered a range of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, torture, killing, disappearance, rape, forced relocation, and arbitrary taxation.
The new report highlights common consequences of human rights abuses, including economic hardship, health and psychosocial issues, and an inability to continue education. “The suffering and injustice that victims such as political prisoners experienced must be acknowledged by the Government,” said Thwin Lin Aung, Director of Genuine People’s Servants. “The Government must recognise and apologise for those violations, and accept that victims deserve reparations through a government administered programme established through a Reparations Law,” he continued.
Even as the Myanmar government negotiates with ethnic armed organisations to try and find peace, the peace process has not brought with it a decline in armed conflict, and fighting t rages on in northern Burma. The ongoing armed conflict has been accompanied by systematic human rights violations including arbitrary arrest, torture, extrajudicial killing, forced labour, sexual violence, death by landmines, indiscriminate shelling, military targeting of civilian structures, and confiscation and destruction of property.
“Although the much-touted peace process has been going on for many years now, the situation in northern Shan and Kachin states is getting worse, and there are more victims of human rights violations with each passing day,” said Lway Khamae khour of the Ta’ang Women’s Organization.
“Victims of human rights violations must receive justice for what they have suffered,” said Seng Htoi of Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand. “There must be genuine trust-building towards peace and accountability to end impunity for human rights violations committed by the Burmese military,” she continued.
“Even though some parts of Burma such as Mon State, have seen less armed conflict in recent years, there remain many victims of human rights violations such as land grabs.” said Nai Aue Mon of Human Rights Foundation of Monland. “Restitution of their housing, land and property rights must be a priority of the Government,” he continued.
The report urges the Government of Burma to implement substantive measures to begin delivering justice and accountability for the country’s many victims of f human rights violations. Until the Government provides reparations, Burma’s democratic reform process will remain unfinished.
For media inquiries and more information please contact:
- San Htoi, Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand, 09- 423 076 625
- Lway Poe Khamae khour, Ta’ang Women’s Organization, 09-256 128 582
- Ko Thwin Lin Aung, Genuine People’s Servents, 09-250 795 915
- Nai Aue Mon, Human Rights Foundation of Monland, 09799889773
Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma) is a 13-member organisation whose members represent a range of ethnic nationalities, women and the LGBTI community. ND-Burma has been documenting human rights abuses and fighting for justice for victims since 2004.
Its member organisations are:
- Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma
- Human Rights Foundation of Monland
- Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand
- Ta’ang Women’s Organization
- Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization
- Tavoyan Women’s Union
- All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
- Chin Human Rights Organization
- EarthRights International
- Equality Myanmar
- Lahu Women’s Organization
- Pa-O Youth Organization
- Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
- East Bago – Former Political Prisoners Network
- Progressive Voice
- Kachin Development Networking Group
The Reparations Working Group:
In 2015 in order to help ‘repair’ the damage done by mass abuses, ND-Burma established a Reparations Working Group that works to advocate for a state-led reparations programme. The group spent 2016 and 2017 conducting interviews with victims of human rights violations, and the findings has been compiled into this most recent report You cannot ignore us: victims of human rights violations from 1970 – 2017 outline their desires for justice. The Reparations Working Group comprises all 13 ND-Burma members as well as:
- The Vimutti Women’s Organisation (VWO)
- Genuine People’s Servants (GPS)
- Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI)
- 88 Generation Peace and Open Society
- Future Light Center (FLC)
View this original press release HERE.