|Today we are launching a new interactive map which shows reports of human rights abuses and conflict since Thein Sein became President of Burma one year ago. While the world discusses positive reforms happening in the country, it is crucial not turn a blind eye to the rampant human rights abuses and atrocities happening in many parts of the country. Such incidences include a Kachin village burned down by the Burma Army on March 27th and the death of two children just last week, who were killed while their village was being shelled. To see more – go to the new map, click on the incidences, learn, and spread the word.
We have over 750 reports on the map currently, and will continually add to it as we receive new reports. However, this by no means represents all the incidences that have happened in the last year- only those that have already been made public and were released in English. These reports would have never left the country had it not been for the many brave journalists and human rights defenders who must often work in secret to do this valuable job. These organizations and activists work closely with their communities in the country to shed light on some of the world’s most closed off areas.
On the map there are reports on human rights abuses, armed conflict, arbitrary arrests, as well as arbitrary taxation and extortion. You can filter the map to just see each of these categories individually. Moreover, you can also see additional layers of pipelines and dams locations, which is important as these projects are often tied with human rights abuses. If you need help figuring out how to use the map you can go here.
We hope that this map will be a powerful visual tool that vividly shows the importance of pushing for human rights and an end to conflict. The map clearly shows the differences in the rates of abuses in ethnically Burman areas in central parts of the country compared with the areas of ethnic minorities. While the EU, Canada, and other countries were rewarding Burma by suspending sanctions in return for the holding of the by-elections, heavy fighting continued in Kachin areas. We cannot let this be the future of Burma, where the issues and voices of a large portion of the population are ignored.
Zipporah Sein, the head of the Karen National Union recently told reporters last week, “Now more than ever, it’s important that our voice is heard.” The holding of peace negotiations is not enough. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD winning seats in Parliament is not enough. There must be greater vigilance and action in order to ensure that peace and reconciliation can be achieved in Burma. The international community must not lift all important forms of leverage before the rights of civilians have been insured. In a hearing in the House of Representatives last week, Tom Andrews, the President of United to End Genocide said in his testimony “As much as we want to hope that the recent progress toward democracy in Burma will mark a turning point, nothing positive will last until the Burmese military stops committing atrocities and a political agreement is reached with the ethnic national states.” United to End Genocide had recently returned from a trip to Kachin state where there has been ongoing conflict since June of last year. USCB’s Aung Din also made it clear how “the premature lifting of financial sanctions can greatly jeopardize the fragile peace negotiations currently underway between the regime’s civilian authorities and ethnic nationality groups.” Learn more about crimes against humanity in Burma here.
We need your help to ensure that the U.S. is doing all it can to support human rights and an end to conflict in Burma. Please share this map today and stay tuned for further actions.
Special thanks to our interns who have helped so much on this map: Heena, Fernanda, Anne, Rashima, and Anna