An increase in human rights abuses in Burma emphasizes the importance of House Resolution 898

In its recently published World Report 2010, Human Rights Watch reported that Burma’s human rights record continues to worsen ahead of the 2010 elections, saying, “The Burmese military junta systematically denies citizens basic freedoms, including freedom of expression, association and assembly.”

The Human Rights Watch World Report stated that:

– There are an estimated 2,100 political prisoners currently incarcerated in Burma for peaceful protests
– Over 230 Buddhist monks who were involved in the 2007 Saffron Revolution are still in prison
– International demands for an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma increased in 2009
– The Burmese military commits “extrajudicial killings, forced labor and sexual violence” in ethnic conflict zones

Aung Myo Min, director of Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, said to The Irrawaddy, “The Burmese military junta commits systematic human rights abuses and crimes against humanity every year,” and “The United Nations has many weaknesses because it cannot take action against abusers of human rights. It should revise and amend its policies and mechanisms on human rights.”

On Saturday, January 23, Reuters reported that more than 2,000 Karen people fled their villages after the Burmese military attacked last week, shooting and killing several Karen people, burning down houses, arresting villagers and forcing others into labor. The story stated that tens of thousands of Karen refugees have fled to overcrowded camps across the border in Thailand over the past few years. The military junta is trying to recruit thousands of soldiers to join its border patrol units, either voluntarily or by force, and is threatening to attack ethnic groups like the Karens if they do not comply, Reuters reported.

Finally, the executive director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Kari Tapiola, visited Burma last week in order to renew a contract allowing the United Nations to monitor complaints of forced labor. In an interview with The Irrawaddy, he said that the use of forced labor and forced conscription of minors into the military are still prevalent in Burma, if not on the rise.

The new year has not brought change to Burma. All of these reports show that the situation in Burma is not improving, and that the international community needs to take concrete actions to halt the mass atrocities and to bring accountability to the military junta ruling. House Resolution 898 calls for the United Nations to set up a Security Council Commission of Inquiry to investigate into Burma’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, to impose global arms embargo, and to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma.

If you haven’t taken a look at the House Resolution 898, click here to read.

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