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Human Rights Violations in Myanmar

This analysis paper focuses on the violation of human in Myanmar, mainly, the violations against civilians by the military and internal conflicts between the Buddhist and Rohingya communities leading to the deterioration of the rights of individuals like the right to freedom of expression and association, the rights against ill-treatment, the right to life, the right to food, etc.

Since 1988, human rights violations in Myanmar have received ample attention from like-minded Western states, advocacy groups, and international organizations, namely the United Nations. In the light of these developments, problems relating to human rights violations in Myanmar have been raised by Western states and the UN organization, calling on Myanmar's military junta to halt its human rights violations and improve its human rights record in addition to political modifications in the direction of democratization. Despite that, the lives and way forward for Myanmar's individuals are "hanging in the balance".

It is "disappointing" that international efforts to rein in the military's recklessly violent approach have been ineffective. This research found that there is still no stability in Myanmar even though world organizations are asking to establish peace and stability. Thus, the research recommends adherence and therefore the steps necessary to be taken for preventing further human rights violations.

Introduction
Human rights are inherent to everyone, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. Human rights in Myanmar underneath its military regime have long been regarded as among the worst. International human rights organizations including Human rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have repeatedly documented and condemned widespread human rights violations in Myanmar.

The liberty in the World 2011 report by Freedom House notes that "The military junta has suppressed nearly all basic rights, and committed human rights abuses with impunity." In 2011 the "country's more than 2,100 political prisoners included about 429 members of the NLD, the victors in the 1990 elections."

Persecution of Rohingyas

The gathered evidence suggests that the Burmese regime has marked ethnic minorities such as the Karen, Karenni, and Shan for extermination. According to Amnesty International, the Muslim Rohingya individual has continued to suffer human rights violations in the domination of the Junta which has dominated Burma since 1978, and many of them have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. As a result violence against Christian communities such as Kachin has also flared since fighting restarted in June 2011.

Following the coup in February 2021, many localized armed resistance groups have now formed across the country triggering widespread violence in areas that were previously stable. The Burmese regime has refused to acknowledge them as citizens (despite generations of habitation in the country) and attempted to replace Rohingyas with non-Rohingyas." policy has resulted in the expulsion of around 90,000 individuals. This makes Rohingya individuals "among the world's least wanted" and "one of the world's most persecuted minorities".

Since the 1982 citizenship law, Rohingya have been stripped of their Burmese citizenship. In 2012, a riot broke out between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, that left 78 individuals dead, 87 injured, and thousands of homes destroyed. It also displaced more than 52,000 individuals. As of July 2012, the Myanmar Government did not embrace the Rohingya minority cluster classified as unsettled Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh since 1982 on the government's list of more than 130 ethnic races and therefore the government says that they have no claim to Myanmar citizenship.

On 10 June 2018 State of emergency was declared in Rakhine, permitting the military to participate in the administration of the region. The military and police have been accused of targeting Rohingya Muslims through mass arrests and arbitrary violence. Several Buddhist organizations that played a vital role in Burma's struggle for democracy took measures to block any humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya community.

The Deterioration of Rights

The human rights situation deteriorated dramatically after a military coup in February. The military staged a coup on February 1 and arrested State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win, along with other senior leaders from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD). The military formed the State Administrative Council to govern the country led by General Min Aung Hlaing, who was appointed as Prime Minister when the role was re-established in August.

Following the military takeover, thousands of individuals throughout the country took joined the protest, and public & private sector workers participated in a mass civil disobedience movement. The military government violently cracked down on those that opposed its coup, widely using rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, live rounds of ammunition, and other lethal force against protesters.

According to the NGO Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP), as of 31 December, the military government's security forces had killed at least 1,384 individuals, including 91 children, and arrested 11,289. Those killed include protesters and bystanders too.

This led to mass violations of human rights on a large scale like:

  1. Freedom of Expression and Association
    The military government made amendments to the Penal Code that criminalized both the intent to criticize and actual criticism of government actions. It includes the addition of Section 505(a) which criminalized comments that "cause fear" and spread "false news", as well as criminalizing individuals "committing or agitating, directly or indirectly, a criminal offense against a government employee". As of 31 December, 189 individuals had been convicted under Section 505(a).

    According to the AAPP report, at least another 1,143 detained individuals were awaiting sentencing, and warrants for 1,545 others had been issued, including under Section 505(a) which carries a sentence of up to three years imprisonment.
     
  2. Torture and other ill-treatment
    According to the sources, at least 8,338 of those arrested since February 1 remained in detention as of December 31, including 196 children. The United Nations documented the widespread use of torture by security forces against detainees, somewhat resulting in death.

    Sexual violence and threats of sexual violence by the security forces against women, girls, and in some instances men detained during protests, were documented, including in the context of interrogations. Detained LGBTI individuals who joined in the protests, often underneath rainbow flags, were also reportedly tortured, including sexual violence.
     
  3. Attacks on civilians
    The army used the "Four Cuts" strategy to cut off funding, food, intelligence, and recruits of the anti-units, this brought devastating consequences for civilians. The army launched airstrikes, shelling, and arson attacks over towns and villages in the states of Kayah, Kayin, Kachin, and Chin, and in the parts of Sagaing, Magway, and Thanintharyi.
     
  4. Denial of humanitarian access
    Military authorities restricted humanitarian access to internally displaced individuals in the states of Kayah, Chin, and Shan. There were reports of roadblocks and aid convoys being turned back by soldiers. In June, the army destroyed an ambulance and burnt down stockpiles of food and medicine intended for the displaced individuals in Pekon Township, Shan State.
     
  5. The right to health
    Health workers have joined the civil disobedience movement and the health system has effectively collapsed after being taken over by the military as the third wave of Covid-19 hit the country. Medical workers providing covert medical care, including injured protesters, were attacked and arrested by security forces. 4,444 women and girls faced difficulties accessing sexual and reproductive health care, especially in areas of armed conflict. There have been reports of displaced women giving birth without access to basic health care. In several reported cases in Kayah, and Shan states, newborn babies from displaced families have died due to the lack of adequate medical care and shelter.
     
  6. The right to education
    A combination of Covid-19-related school, college, and university closures, armed conflict, and the actions of military authorities have left some 12 million children and young people out of formal education. Those arrested included teachers involved in civil disobedience movements, with at least 139 teachers detained by the end of November. Schools and other educational institutions are being bombed or otherwise attacked by unknown attackers. At least 103 such attacks were reported in May alone. The military occupied schools and colleges across Myanmar.
     
  7. Death penalty
    Dozens, including several children, were sentenced to death by military courts after unjust trials. Many were tried in their absence

UN Report

UN High Commissioner for Human rights Michelle Bachelet said the armed forces were involved in systematic and widespread human rights abuses, some of which amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bombarding populated areas with airstrikes and heavy weapons:
  • Targeting Civilians, Many Of Whom Have Been Shot In The Head,
  • Burned To Death,
  • Arbitrarily Arrest,
  • Torture,
  • Civilians Used As Human Shields

Since the February 1, 2021, military takeover, the report is based on interviews with more than 155 victims, witnesses, and lawyers whose testimony is based on satellite data, verified media files, and credible open-source information. At least 1,600 people were killed by security forces and over 12,500 were arrested. Around 440,000 people have already been displaced and 14 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance i.e., blocked by the military in new and existing distressed areas.

Suspension from the ceiling without food, or water, being forced to stand for extended periods while in solitary confinement; electrocution (giving electric shock throughout the body), injecting unidentified drugs, sexual violence including rape & forcing Muslim detainees to ingest pork.

At least 543 individuals including local administrators, their families, and alleged informants were also reportedly killed due to their perceived support of the military. Anti-coup armed took responsibility for 95 of the incidents.

Report Conclusion:
The military, the Tatmadaw, is engaged in violence and patterns of conduct that amount to crimes against humanity.

References:
  • https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/south-east-asia-and-the-pacific/myanmar/report-myanmar/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_the rights_in_Myanmar
  • https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1120362
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312942776_International_Responses_to_Human_The rights_Violations_in_Myanmar_The_Case_of_the_Rohingya
  • https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/myanmar-un-report-urges-immediate-concerted-effort-international-community

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