The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) is concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian crisis inside Burma. In target areas of Mon State, Karen State and Tanintharyi region, HURFOM has documented nearly 30,000 newly displaced civilians who have had to escape violence. These displaced people are just a fraction of the 1 million people across the country who have been forced to flee their homes. The merciless violence deployed by the military junta has not spared women, children, or the elderly.
On World Refugee Day, HURFOM condemns the mass atrocities that the Burma Army continues to commit with impunity. We further call upon international actors, including some UN bodies and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), to support local actors in their emergency response to the situation on the ground, rather than make agreements with the Burma Army.
The refugee crisis in Burma is the result of the junta’s insatiable quest for power. Their presence in local villages and communities has brought only destruction and fear as civilians are arrested, detained, brutally tortured, and killed. HURFOM has observed rising cases of forced disappearances alongside mass displacement. The Burma Army is responsible for the generational trauma it continues to exert on displaced populations and refugees. And yet, the response by the international community has been inadequate.
Rather than choosing to allocate funds and resources with well-established civil society organizations with decades of experience working in conflict-affected communities, the UN and ASEAN have opted to facilitate humanitarian assistance through the junta.
Local organizations do not agree with this approach, as it weaponizes aid and is not transparent. Further, it risks legitimizing the regime as a reliable partner. The junta should play absolutely no role in any organizing and distribution of humanitarian assistance. Since 1 February 2021, the junta has boycotted attempts for aid delivery including targeted assaults on volunteer aid workers, and burning supplies intended for displaced populations.
Further, by working alongside the military, an institution with a reputation of corruption and insincerity, the international community is not responding adequately to the realities of the current situation. The National Unity Government, and ethnic revolution organizations must be consulted in the allocation of emergency aid. If international actors are going to provide assistance, they must do so through existing channels which will ensure conflict-affected refugees receive the materials they so urgently need.
On World Refugee Day, HURFOM reinforces calls for international assistance of which is not influenced by the Burma Army. Assistance must be facilitated to leaders on the ground who are trusted by their community and can ensure the emergency needs are met. By failing to listen to the voices of victims and survivors in Burma, the international community is subsequently failing the people and they must do better.
HURFOM reinstates our calls for a referral of the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court, as well as for a global arms embargo and sanctions on aviation fuel.
Further, as the situation in Burma continues to unravel, the safety and security of civilians must take precedent. The grave human rights violations committed today are ongoing, yet the military evades accountability. There must be concrete actions and steps forward which make clear that the military is not free to violate international laws, human rights, and freedoms.
Nai Aue Mon, HURFOM Program Director
Signal: +66 86 167 9741
HURFOM was founded by exiled pro-democracy students from the 1988 uprisings, recent activists and Mon community leaders and youth. Its primary objective is the restoration of democracy, human rights and genuine peace in Burma. HURFOM is a non-profit organization, and all its members are volunteers with a shared vision for peace in the country.