Yet at the same time, confict rages a thousand kilometers away in northern Burma. Government army ofensives
have driven tens of thousands of people from their homes to the China border, vastly increasing their vulnerability
A new report by Kachin women exposes how the Burmese government’s war against the Kachin has greatly increased the risk of human trafficking along the China-Burma border.
“Pushed to the Brink,” launched today by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT), shows how the displacement of over 100,000 people over the past two years, lack of refugee protection and shortages of humanitarian aid have become significant new push factors fuelling the trafficking of Kachin women to China, already a long-standing problem.
refuge in China.
Summary of the Current Situation There were at least 21 detentions, 2 arrests, 1 sentencing, and 2 releases in the month of May 2012. Trends May has been marked by a sharp contrast between an international rush to lift sanctions and commend the limited political reforms underway, and the reality of continued human rights violations, especially with regard to political prisoners.
This report provides an update of atrocities committed by the Burma Army against civilians since it broke its 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) one year ago. It highlights the particular suffering of women during the conflict, who have been forced to be porters, used as sex slaves, gang-raped and killed.
For the first time in decades, Burma will be holding Parliamentary by9elections that allows major opposition parties to contest the available seats. The move has been hailed by many in the international community as evidence of democratic progress and the elections are now being used as a benchmark for lifting sanctions if deemed “free and fair” by international monitors.
However, whether the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner is not a genuine reflection of the level of civil and political liberties accorded to the people of Burma. There are hundreds of political prisoners still behind bars, and those who have been released face deprivation of fundamental freedoms and extensive monitoring by security forces.
AAPP can confirm 1,638 political prisoners have been arrested and are believed to still be in prison. There is an ongoing verification process to confirm as much information surrounding the political prisoner as possible, such as prison terms, sentencing history, and current whereabouts. Most importantly, AAPP is verifying whether a political prisoner is still in prison, has been released, or has been sent to a forced labor camp or to the front line, for example. If still in prison, AAPP is confirming the location of their prisons.
A new report released by Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO) estimates that 63% of farming families have lost their land to confiscation by the Burmese military and their cronies. Despite much-publicized political “reforms” in the country, the authorities have refused to stop land confiscation, causing more threats to families’ livelihoods and food security.
“We fled our village to a hiding site before the fighting began. I went back to my home to feed the animals and get some food for my family. The soldiers were in my house and when I tried to enter they yelled at me to get out. I told them ‘this is my house’ but one soldier pointed a gun at me and asked me ‘do you want to die?’ I was frightened and ran away. All our crops and livestock have already been taken by the soldiers. We are worried that when we are able to go back to our village there will be nothing left. How will we survive?”
- Roi Nan, 56 year old grandmother from Mansi township
Almost one year after Burma’s long-awaited elections were held in November 2010, Palaung communities in northern Shan State are suffering from the
effects of an even greater upsurge in opium cultivation than in previous years.
Large Sums Extorted from Residents by Local Authorities for the Water Festival in Kawkareik Township
Kyaik Don Sub-township: Local township authorities collected mandatory payments from residents of most villages and village tracks in the Kyaik Don Sub-township, Kawkareik Township to make a financial reserve for Water Festival celebrations. The administrator of the Township General Administration Office ordered a fund collection and sent this written order to village headman of eight villages in Kyaik Don Subtownship.
The Ta’ang (Palaung) people are traditionally tea cultivators, however, they currently face economic hardship due to a decline in the tea market in 2011. Although the tea price was good and many tea traders bought tea during the Shwe Pyi Oo (first harvest), one week later the price of tea fell and just a few traders were buying tea. After that the tea market was very weak and tea production almost came to a halt.
In April 2010, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) refused the Burmese government’s request for the NMSP to transform into part of the Border Guard Force (BGF), in which it would essentially provide security for the Burmese government. Tensions between both sides rose because of the NMSP’s rejection and the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC – the former Burmese military government) began a recruitment project in local villages, forcing villagers to serve as militiamen and committing a variety of human rights abuses. During that period, HURFOM conducted interviews with local residents who fled their homes to Internally Displaced
Persons (IDP) sites, and documented the commission of crimes against humanity and assorted human rights abuses, on those IDPs, who lived in Ye Township, Mon State, and Ye Pyu Township, Tenasserim Division.
Summary of 2010
As of 31 December 2010, there were 2189 political prisoners in Burma. This is an overall increase of 12 in comparison to last year’s figure of 2,177. In 2010, 53 political prisoners were arrested and 61 were released. The AAPP also received information about activists who were arrested and released before 2010, and this retrospective information explains why there is actually an overall increase of 12 this year.