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US State Dept. - reports on human rights in Burma

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: US State Dept, human rights page
Description/subject: Links to the annual country reports on human rights
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 15 March 2008


Title: US State Dept. Information on Burma
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Dept. of State
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1077.html
Date of entry/update: 18 November 2010


Title: US State Dept: Semi-Annual Reports to Congress on Conditions in Burma and US Policy Towards Burma
Description/subject: Reports from 1997-2000
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs U.S. Department of State
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Individual Documents

Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2013
Date of publication: 27 February 2014
Description/subject: "...During the year the government’s human rights record continued to improve, although authorities had not fully or consistently implemented legal and policy revisions at all levels, particularly in ethnic-minority areas. Observers reported marked decreases in systemic human rights abuses committed by the government, such as torture, disappearances, and the forced use of civilians to carry military supplies in some ethnic border areas. On February 6, President Thein Sein announced the formation of a committee to identify and release political prisoners. By December 31, the committee had identified and released an estimated 330 political prisoners, bringing the total number of political prisoners released since reforms began to more than 1,100. In addition, in January the government allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to all of the country’s prisons and labor camps. The government also took significant steps to combat corruption, including the passage of anticorruption legislation, firing of six high-ranking government officials for mismanagement or corruption, and taking administrative action against corrupt civil servants. The continuing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Rakhine State was the most troubling exception – and threat – to the country’s progress during the year. Although the government provided some short-term humanitarian support to affected populations, it did little to address the root causes of the violence or to fulfill its 2012 pledge to take steps to provide a path for citizenship for the Rohingya population. Authorities in Rakhine State made no meaningful efforts to help Rohingya and other Muslim minority people displaced by violence to return to their homes and continued to enforce disproportionate restrictions on their movement. As a result, tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remained confined in camps and commonly were prevented by security forces from exiting in order to gain access to livelihoods, markets, food, places of worship, and other services. This policy further entrenched the increasingly permanent segregation of the Rohingya and Rakhine communities. There were credible reports of extrajudicial killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detentions and torture and mistreatment in detention, deaths in custody, and systematic denial of due process and fair trial rights, overwhelmingly perpetrated against the Rohingya. There were reports of local and state government and security officials, acting in conjunction with Rakhine and Rohingya criminal elements, smuggling and trafficking thousands of Rohingya out of the country, often for profit. In July the government disbanded the NaSaKa – the notorious security force responsible for gross human rights violations – in an effort to begin addressing the situation; however, no security or government officials were investigated or held to account. At year’s end an estimated 140,000 persons remained displaced in Rakhine State. Meanwhile, attacks on Muslim minorities spread to other parts of the country at various points throughout the year..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Department of State (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)
Format/size: pdf (249K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2013&dlid=220182
- See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper
Date of entry/update: 28 February 2014


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2012
Date of publication: 19 April 2013
Description/subject: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "Burma’s parliamentary government is headed by President Thein Sein. On April 1, the country held largely transparent and inclusive by-elections in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, chaired by Aung San Suu Kyi, won 43 of 45 contested seats out of a total 664 seats in the legislature. The by-elections contrasted sharply with the 2010 general elections, which were neither free nor fair. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) continued to hold an overwhelming majority of the seats in the national parliament and state/regional assemblies, and active-duty military officers continued to wield authority at each level of government. Military security forces reported to military channels, and civilian security forces, such as the police, reported to a nominally civilian ministry headed by an active-duty military general. In 2012 the government’s continued reform efforts resulted in significant human rights improvements, although legal and policy revisions had yet to be implemented fully or consistently at the local level, particularly in ethnic nationality areas. On January 13, President Thein Sein released an estimated 300 political prisoners, including top figures of the prodemocracy movement and all imprisoned journalists, and amnestied an estimated 140 political prisoners in subsequent releases, though none of the 2012 releases were unconditional. The government eased longstanding restrictions imposed on its citizens, including by relaxing censorship laws governing the media, expanding labor rights and criminalizing forced labor, and returning professional licenses to practice law for the majority of lawyers who had been disbarred for political activities or for their representation of political activists. The government also eased restrictions on dissidents both from within and outside the country, including removal of more than 2,000 names from a government blacklist of persons barred from entering or leaving the country based on their suspected political activity. An outbreak of communal violence in June between predominantly Buddhist Rakhine and predominantly Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine State claimed the lives of an estimated 100 civilians and displaced tens of thousands before the central government reestablished calm. Violence broke out again in October and resulted in deaths estimated to exceed 100 and the burning of more than 3,000 houses in predominantly Rohingya villages. The central government took positive steps by deploying security forces to suppress violence, granting the international community access to the conflict areas, forming an investigative commission into the causes of the violence, and engaging international experts on reconciliation. Intercommunal tensions remained high. At the end of the year, there were more than 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) resulting from the violence in Rakhine State. The Burma Army escalated the use of force against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in December, including through the use of air power. In July the government stopped issuing travel permission for UN humanitarian aid convoys to travel to Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)-controlled areas, effectively cutting off an estimated 40,000 IDPs from access to international humanitarian assistance. Local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were generally able to access these populations during this period. KIA forces allegedly destroyed civilian infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and trains, and targeted attacks on police officials in Kachin State. Significant human rights problems in the country persisted, including conflict-related abuses in ethnic minority border states; abuse of prisoners, continued detention of more than 200 political prisoners and restrictions on released political prisoners; and a general lack of rule of law resulting in corruption and the deprivation of land and livelihoods. Government security forces were allegedly responsible for cases of extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture. The government abused some prisoners and detainees, held some persons in harsh and life-threatening conditions, and failed to protect civilians in conflict zones. The government undertook some legal reforms during the year, and in practice restrictions on the exercise of a variety of human rights lessened markedly, if unevenly and unreliably, compared to past years. Nevertheless, a number of laws restricting freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement remained. The government allowed for greater expression by civil society, and NGOs were able to operate more openly than in previous years; however, the mandatory registration process for NGOs remained cumbersome and nontransparent. The government signed an action plan with the UN to end illegal child soldiers. Though there were several well publicized demobilizations of child soldiers during the year, recruitment of child soldiers continued. Discrimination against ethnic minorities and stateless persons continued, as did trafficking in persons--particularly of women and girls--although the government took actions to combat this problem. Forced labor, including that of children, persisted. The government generally did not take action to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses, with a few isolated exceptions. Abuses continued with impunity. Ethnic armed groups also committed human rights abuses, including forced labor and recruitment of child soldiers, and failed to protect civilians in conflict zones"
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Department of State (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)
Format/size: pdf (207K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs15/USDOS-Country-rep2012-Burma.pdf
Date of entry/update: 02 May 2013


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2011
Date of publication: 25 May 2012
Description/subject: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "Burma’s government is headed by President Thein Sein; the military-run State Peace and Development Council was officially dissolved in 2011, although former and active military officers continued to wield authority at each level of government. In November 2010 the then-military regime held the country’s first parliamentary elections since 1990, which were neither free nor fair. The government’s main party, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), claimed an overwhelming majority of seats in the national parliament and state/regional assemblies. Military security forces report to military channels, and civilian security forces, such as the police, report to a nominally civilian ministry headed by an active-duty military general. Significant developments during the year included the emergence of a legislature that allowed opposition parties to contribute substantively to debates; democratic reforms such as the amendment of laws allowing opposition parties to register and Aung San Suu Kyi to announce her bid for Parliament; the release of hundreds of political prisoners; the relaxation of a number of censorship controls, the opening of some space in society for the expression of dissent; and an easing of restrictions on some internal and foreign travel for citizens. Significant human rights problems in the country persisted, including military attacks against ethnic minorities in border states, which resulted in civilian deaths, forced relocations, sexual violence, and other serious abuses. The government also continued to detain hundreds of political prisoners. Abuses of prisoners continued, including the alleged transfer of civilian prisoners to military units. These units reportedly were often engaged in armed conflict in the border areas where they were forced to carry supplies, clear mines, and serve as human shields. Government security forces were responsible for extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture. The government detained civic activists indefinitely and without charges. The government abused some prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life-threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. The government infringed on citizens’ privacy and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government impeded the work of many domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). International NGOs continued to encounter a difficult--although somewhat improved--environment. Recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons--particularly of women and girls--continued. Forced labor, including that of children, persisted. The government generally did not take action to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses, with a few isolated exceptions. Abuses continued with impunity. Rampant corruption and the absence of due process undermined the rule of law. Ethnic armed groups also committed human rights abuses, including forced labor and recruitment of child soldiers.
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Department of State (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)
Format/size: pdf (193K-OBLversion; 166K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/186475.pdf
Date of entry/update: 25 May 2012


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2010
Date of publication: 08 April 2011
Description/subject: "Burma, with an estimated population of 56 million, is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime dominated by the majority ethnic Burman group. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by Senior General Than Shwe, was the country's de facto government. Military officers wielded the ultimate authority at each level of government. In 1990 prodemocracy parties won more than 80 percent of the seats in a general parliamentary election, but the regime continued to ignore the results. In 2008 the regime held a referendum on its draft constitution and declared the constitution had been approved by 92.48 percent of voters, a figure no independent observers believed was valid. The government held parliamentary elections on November 7, the first elections since 1990. The government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claimed an overwhelming majority of seats in the national parliament and state/regional assemblies. Democracy activists and the international community widely criticized both the constitutional referendum and the elections process as seriously flawed. Parliament was scheduled to convene on January 31, 2011, with a special joint session of the upper and lower houses to follow within 15 days. The constitution was to go into effect when that joint session was convened. The constitution specifies that the SPDC will continue to rule until a new government is formed. The regime continued to abridge the right of citizens to change their government and committed other severe human rights abuses. Government security forces were responsible for extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, disappearances, rape, and torture. The government detained civic activists indefinitely and without charges. In addition regime-sponsored mass-member organizations engaged in harassment and abuse of human rights and prodemocracy activists. The government abused prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life-threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. The army continued its attacks on ethnic minority villagers, resulting in deaths, forced relocation, and other serious abuses. The government routinely infringed on citizens' privacy and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government did not allow domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to function independently, and international NGOs encountered a difficult environment. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. Workers' rights remained restricted. Forced labor, including that of children, also persisted. The government took no significant actions to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses. Ethnic armed groups and some cease-fire groups (armed ethnic guerillas) allegedly committed human rights abuses, including forced labor and recruitment of child soldiers. The government released Aung San Suu Kyi--general secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD)--from house arrest on November 13, the date her sentence (for allegedly having violated the terms of her confinement) expired..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: pdf (229K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs11/USDOS-Country-rep2010-Burma.pdf
Date of entry/update: 28 April 2011


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2009
Date of publication: 11 March 2010
Description/subject: "Burma, with an estimated population of 54 million, is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime dominated by the majority ethnic Burman group. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by Senior General Than Shwe, was the country's de facto government. Military officers wielded the ultimate authority at each level of government. In 1990 prodemocracy parties won more than 80 percent of the seats in a general parliamentary election, but the regime continued to ignore the results. In May 2008 the regime held a referendum on its draft constitution and declared the constitution had been approved by 92.48 percent of voters, a figure no independent observers believed was valid. The constitution specifies that the SPDC will continue to rule until a new parliament is convened, scheduled to take place following national elections in 2010. The military government controlled the security forces without civilian oversight. The regime continued to abridge the right of citizens to change their government and committed other severe human rights abuses. Government security forces allowed custodial deaths to occur and committed extrajudicial killings, disappearances, rape, and torture. The government detained civic activists indefinitely and without charges. In addition regime-sponsored mass-member organizations engaged in harassment, abuse, and detention of human rights and prodemocracy activists. The government abused prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life-threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. The army continued its attacks on ethnic minority villagers. The government sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi--general secretary of the country's independence movement, the National League for Democracy (NLD)--to 18 additional months of house arrest for violating the terms of her confinement. The government routinely infringed on citizens' privacy and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government did not allow domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to function independently, and international NGOs encountered a difficult environment. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. Workers' rights remained restricted. Forced labor, including that of children, also persisted. The government took no significant actions to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 April 2010


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2008
Date of publication: 25 February 2009
Description/subject: Events of 2008..."Burma, with an estimated population of 54 million, is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime dominated by the majority ethnic Burman group. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by Senior General Than Shwe, was the country's de facto government. Military officers wielded the ultimate authority at each level of government. In 1990 prodemocracy parties won more than 80 percent of the seats in a general parliamentary election, but the regime continued to ignore the results. The military government controlled the security forces without civilian oversight. The regime continued to abridge the right of citizens to change their government and committed other severe human rights abuses. Government security forces allowed custodial deaths to occur and committed other extrajudicial killings, disappearances, rape, and torture. The government detained civic activists indefinitely and without charges. In addition regime-sponsored mass-member organizations engaged in harassment, abuse, and detention of human rights and prodemocracy activists. The government abused prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life-threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. The army continued its attacks on ethnic minority villagers. Aung San Suu Kyi, general secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and NLD Vice-Chairman Tin Oo remained under house arrest. The government routinely infringed on citizens' privacy and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government did not allow domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to function independently, and international NGOs encountered a difficult environment. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. Workers' rights remained restricted. Forced labor, including that of children, also persisted. The government took no significant actions to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses. Ethnic armed groups allegedly committed human rights abuses, including forced labor. Some cease-fire groups reportedly committed abuses. Armed insurgent groups and cease-fire groups also recruited child soldiers..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 26 February 2009


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2007
Date of publication: 11 March 2008
Description/subject: "Since 1962 Burma, with an estimated population of 54 million, has been ruled by a succession of highly authoritarian military regimes dominated by the majority ethnic Burman group. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by Senior General Than Shwe, was the country's de facto government. Military officers wielded the ultimate authority at each level of government. In 1990 prodemocracy parties won more than 80 percent of the seats in a general parliamentary election, but the regime continued to ignore the results. The military government totally controlled the country's security forces without civilian oversight. The government's human rights record worsened during the year. The regime continued to abridge the right of citizens to change their government. Government security forces killed at least 30 demonstrators during their suppression of prodemocracy protests in September, and they continued to allow custodial deaths to occur and commited other extrajudicial killings, disappearances, rape, and torture. In addition, regime‑sponsored, mass-member organizations such as the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and regime-backed "private" militias increasingly engaged in harassment, abuse, and detention of human rights and prodemocracy activists. The government continued to detain civic activists indefinitely and without charges, including more than 3,000 persons suspected of taking part in prodemocracy demonstrations in September and October, at least 300 members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and at least 15 members of the 88 Generation Students prodemocracy activists. The government continued to prohibit the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from working unhindered in conflict areas and visiting prisoners privately. The army continued its attacks on ethnic minority villagers in Bago Division and Karen and Shan states to drive them from their traditional land. The government abused prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life‑threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. NLD General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD Vice Chairman Tin Oo remained under house arrest. The government routinely infringed on citizens' privacy and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government did not allow domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to function independently, and international NGOs encountered a difficult environment. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. Workers' rights remained restricted. Forced labor, including that of children, also persisted. The government took no significant actions to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses. Ethnic armed groups allegedly committed human rights abuses, including forced labor, although to a much lesser extent than the government. Some cease‑fire groups also reportedly committed abuses, including forced relocation of villagers in their home regions. Armed insurgent groups and cease‑fire groups also recruited child soldiers..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 15 March 2008


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2006
Date of publication: 06 March 2007
Description/subject: Events of 2006..."Since 1962 Burma, with an estimated population of 54 million, has been ruled by a succession of highly authoritarian military regimes dominated by the majority Burman ethnic group. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by Senior General Than Shwe, was the country's de facto government, with subordinate peace and development councils ruling by decree at the division, state, city, township, ward, and village levels. Military officers wielded the ultimate authority at each level of government. In 1990 prodemocracy parties won more than 80 percent of the seats in a general parliamentary election, but the regime continued to ignore the results. The military government totally controlled the country's armed forces, excluding a few active insurgent groups. The government's human rights record worsened during the year. The regime continued to abridge the right of citizens to change their government. The government detained five leaders of the 88 Generation Students prodemocracy activists. The government refused to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit prisoners privately. The army increased attacks on ethnic minority villagers in Bago Division and Karen State designed to drive them from their traditional land. In addition, the government continued to commit other serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, disappearances, rape, and torture. The government abused prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. National League for Democracy (NLD) General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD Vice Chairman Tin Oo remained under house arrest. Governmental authorities routinely infringed on citizens' privacy and resorted more frequently to forced relocations. The government restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government did not allow domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to function independently, and international NGOs encountered a hostile environment. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did forced recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. Workers rights remained restricted, and forced labor, including that of children, also persisted. Ethnic armed groups allegedly committed human rights abuses, including forced labor, although reportedly to a much lesser extent than the government. Some cease fire groups also reportedly committed abuses, including forced relocation of villagers in their home regions. Armed insurgent groups and cease fire groups also practiced forced conscription of child soldiers..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 07 March 2007


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2005
Date of publication: 08 March 2006
Description/subject: "...The government's human rights record worsened during the year, and the government continued to commit numerous serious abuses. The following human rights abuses were reported: * abridgement of the right to change the government * extrajudicial killings, including custodial deaths * disappearances * rape, torture, and beatings of prisoners and detainees * arbitrary arrest without appeal * politically motivated arrests and detentions * incommunicado detention * continued house arrest of National League for Democracy (NLD) General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD Vice * Chairman U Tin Oo, and the continued closure of all NLD offices, except the Rangoon headquarters * imprisonment of members of the United Nationalities Alliance, including Hkun Htun Oo and Sai Nyunt Lwin, both leaders of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy * infringement on citizens' right to privacy * forcible relocation and confiscation of land and property * restriction of freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and movement * restriction of freedom of religion * discrimination and harassment against Muslims * restrictions on domestic human rights organizations and a failure to cooperate with international human rights organizations * violence and societal discrimination against women * forced recruitment of child soldiers * discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities * trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls for the purpose of prostitution and as involuntary wives restrictions on worker rights * forced labor (including against children), chiefly in support of military garrisons and operations in ethnic minority regions..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 17 March 2006


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2004
Date of publication: 28 February 2005
Description/subject: "Since 1962, Burma has been ruled by a succession of highly authoritarian military regimes dominated by the majority Burman ethnic group. In 1990, pro-democracy parties won more than 80 percent of the seats during generally free and fair parliamentary elections, but the junta refused to recognize the results. The current controlling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), is the country's de facto government, with subordinate Peace and Development Councils ruling by decree at the division, state, city, township, ward, and village levels. On October 19, hardliners further consolidated their power by ousting former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and appointing Soe Win. From May through July, the SPDC reconvened a National Convention (NC) as part of its purported "Road Map to Democracy." The NC excluded the largest opposition party and did not allow free debate. The judiciary was not independent and was subject to military control. The Government reinforced its rule with a pervasive security apparatus. Until its dismantling in October, the Office of Chief Military Intelligence (OCMI) exercised control through surveillance, harassment of political activists, intimidation, arrest, detention, physical abuse, and restrictions on citizens' contacts with foreigners. After October, the Government's new Military Affairs Security (MAS) assumed a similar role, though apparently with less sweeping powers. The Government justified its security measures as necessary to maintain order and national unity. Members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US State Dept., Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 February 2005


Title: International Religious Freedom Report 2004: Burma
Date of publication: 15 September 2004
Description/subject: "The country has been ruled since 1962 by highly repressive, authoritarian military regimes. Since 1988, when the armed forces brutally suppressed massive prodemocracy demonstrations, a junta composed of senior military officers has ruled by decree, without a constitution or legislature. Although there is currently no constitution in place, the principles laid out by the Government for its reconvened constitutional convention allow for "freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess and practice religion subject to public order, morality, or healthE" Most adherents of religions that are registered with the authorities generally are allowed to worship as they choose; however, the Government imposes restrictions on certain religious activities and frequently abuses the right to freedom of religion. There was no change in the limited respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. Through its pervasive internal security apparatus, the Government generally infiltrated or monitored the meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations. It systematically restricted efforts by Buddhist clergy to promote human rights and political freedom, discouraged or prohibited minority religions from constructing new places of worship, and in some ethnic minority areas coercively promoted Buddhism over other religions, particularly among members of the minority ethnic groups. Under the principles that are to guide the drafting of the constitution, "the State recognizes the special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens of the State." Christian groups continued to experience difficulties in obtaining permission to repair existing churches or build new ones in most regions, while Muslims reported that they essentially are banned from constructing any new mosques or expanding existing ones anywhere in the country. Anti-Muslim violence continued to occur during the period covered by this report, as did monitoring of Muslims' activities and restrictions on Muslim travel and worship countrywide. There were flare-ups of Muslim-Buddhist violence during the period covered by this report. Persistent social tensions remained between the Buddhist majority and the Christian and Muslim minorities, largely due to old British colonial and contemporary government preferences. There is widespread prejudice against Burmese of South Asian origin, most of whom are Muslims. The U.S. Government promoted religious freedom with all facets of society, including government officials, religious leaders, private citizens, scholars, diplomats of other governments, and international business and media representatives. Embassy staff offered support to local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and religious leaders and acted as a conduit for information exchange with otherwise isolated human rights NGOs and religious leaders. Since 1999, the U.S. Secretary of State has designated Burma as a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. ..."
Language: English, Japanese
Source/publisher: US Dept. of State: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Format/size: HTML (English: 65KB, Japanese: 50KB) , PDF (Japanese: 316KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmainfo.org/usa/usds_irfr2004-burma_jp.html (Japanese, HTML)
http://www.burmainfo.org/usa/usds_irfr2004-burma_jp.pdf (Japanese, PDF)
Date of entry/update: 21 October 2004


Title: Conditions in Burma and U.S. Policy Toward Burma for the the Period September 28, 2003 – March 27, 2004
Date of publication: 13 April 2004
Description/subject: Introduction and Summary: "The overall situation in Burma has changed little over the past six months. The Burmese government released most persons arrested during the government’s May 2003 attack on Aung San Suu Kyi and her convoy. However, many pro-democracy supporters rounded up in the aftermath of the attack remain in detention; National League for Democracy (NLD) offices remain closed; senior opposition party leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo, remain largely incommunicado under house arrest; and the government refuses to investigate the May attack. The Government of Burma (GOB) also has arrested more people for their peaceful political activities over the past six months, while over a thousand persons remain jailed for their political beliefs. The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has focused efforts on promoting its own seven-step “road map” to a "genuine and disciplined democratic system." Although the SPDC unveiled the plan in August 2003 following the announcement of new U.S. sanctions, the junta has yet to set a timetable for the transition or give assurances that all political parties and ethnic groups will be included in a transparent and democratic process. In recent months, the SPDC and the Karen National Union (KNU) entered into serious cease-fire negotiations, which could bring an end to decades of conflict. The U.S. consults with the European Union and others to maintain pressure on the Burmese junta to make progress toward a political transition. Following the events of May 30, the EU expanded the scope of its asset freeze and visa restrictions; Canada imposed visa restrictions; and Japan froze new development assistance to the junta. The UK has frozen over 3500 pounds of assets while other countries have blocked only minimal amounts; Japan is now providing assistance to some projects. No other country has adopted the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. The SPDC’s dismal economic policies have led to widespread poverty and the flight of most foreign investors. New U.S. economic sanctions have also had an impact on at least one sector of the economy; dozens of garment factories that had relied on exports to the United States have now closed. In addition, sanctions have caused the Burmese to rely more on euros than on dollars for trade. We have no statistics on the impact of sanctions on tourism. The Burmese government abruptly reversed its ten-month old rice liberalization policy in January 2004, banning all exports of rice and other staple commodities. The 31-country member Financial Action Task Force (FATF), recommended countermeasures on the GOB, since the GOB had not implemented money-laundering legislation. Most countries imposed additional reporting requirements, and the U.S. banned correspondent relations with Burmese financial institutions. The SPDC continued to abuse severely the human rights of its citizens. Freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and association remain greatly restricted. Burmese citizens are not free to criticize their government. Egregious abuses of ethnic minority civilians by the Burmese military including rape, torture, execution and forced dislocation continue. Forced labor, trafficking in persons, and religious discrimination remain serious problems. Immediate U.S. policy objectives in Burma are the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, other NLD officials, and all political prisoners, as well as the start of genuine dialogue on democracy and political reform, including the re-opening of NLD party headquarters and all NLD regional offices. Overall U.S. policy goals include establishment of constitutional democracy, respect for human rights, cooperation in fighting terrorism, regional stability, a full accounting of missing U.S. servicemen from World War II, combating HIV/AIDS, combating trafficking in persons and increased cooperation in eradicating the production and trafficking of illicit narcotics. The U.S. will continue to urge other nations to use sanctions and diplomacy to press the junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners and to allow all political parties to operate. The U.S. also encourages all countries with a major interest in Burma, particularly Burma’s immediate neighbors, ASEAN, and Japan, to use their influence to convince the government to undertake immediate steps on political reform and human rights. We will continue to urge the international community to support the UN Secretary General in his efforts to start genuine talks on a political transition in Burma..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Dept. of State: Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 14 April 2004


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003
Date of publication: 25 February 2004
Description/subject: Events of 2003. "Burma is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime. In 1962, General Ne Win overthrew the elected civilian government and replaced it with a repressive military government dominated by the majority Burman ethnic group. In 1988, the armed forces brutally suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations, and a group composed of 19 military officers, called the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) took control, abrogated the 1974 Constitution, and has ruled by decree since then. In 1990, pro-democracy parties won over 80 percent of the seats during generally free and fair parliamentary elections, but the Government refused to recognize the results. In 1992, then-General Than Shwe took over the SLORC and in 1997 changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). The 13-member SPDC is the country's de facto government, with subordinate Peace and Development Councils ruling by decree at the division, state, city, township, ward, and village levels. Several long-running internal ethnic conflicts continued to smolder. The judiciary was not independent and was subject to military control. The Government reinforced its firm military rule with a pervasive security apparatus. The Office of Chief Military Intelligence (OCMI) exercised control through surveillance of the military, government employees, and private citizens, and through harassment of political activists, intimidation, arrest, detention, physical abuse, and restrictions on citizens' contacts with foreigners. The Government justified its security measures as necessary to maintain order and national unity. Members of the security forces committed numerous, serious human rights abuses. Though resource-rich, the country is extremely poor; the estimated annual per capita income was approximately $300. Most of the population of more than 50 million was located in rural areas and lived at subsistence levels. Four decades of military rule, economic mismanagement, and endemic corruption have resulted in widespread poverty, poor health care, declining education levels, poor infrastructure, and continuously deteriorating economic conditions. During the year, the collapse of the private banking sector and the economic consequences of additional international sanctions further weakened the economy. The Government's extremely poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses. Citizens still did not have the right to change their government. Security forces continued to commit extrajudicial killings and rape, forcibly relocate persons, use forced labor, conscript child soldiers, and reestablished forced conscription of the civilian population into militia units. During the year, government-affiliated agents killed as many as 70 pro-democracy activists. Disappearances continued, and members of the security forces tortured, beat, and otherwise abused prisoners and detainees. Citizens were subjected to arbitrary arrest without appeal. Arrests and detention for expression of dissenting political views occurred on numerous occasions. During the year, the Government arrested over 270 democracy supporters, primarily members of the country's largest pro-democracy party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). The Government detained many of them in secret locations without notifying their family or providing access to due legal process or counsel. During the year, the Government stated it released approximately 120 political prisoners, but the majority of them had already finished their sentences, and many were common criminals and not political prisoners. By year's end, an estimated 1,300 political prisoners remained in prison. Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening, although in some prisons conditions improved after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was allowed access. The Government did not take steps to prosecute or punish human rights abusers. On May 30, government-affiliated forces attacked an NLD convoy led by party leader Aung San Suu Kyi, leaving several hundred NLD members and pro-democracy supporters missing, under arrest, wounded, raped, or dead. Following the attack, Government authorities detained Aung San Suu Kyi, other NLD party officials, and eyewitnesses to the attack. As of year's end, the Government has not investigated or admitted any role in the attack. The Government subsequently banned all NLD political activities, closed down approximately 100 recently reopened NLD offices, detained the entire 9-member NLD Central Executive Committee, and closely monitored the activities of other political parties throughout the country. The Government continued to restrict severely freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement. During the year, persons suspected of or charged with pro-democratic political activity were killed or subjected to severe harassment, physical attack, arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, incommunicado detention, house arrest, and the closing of political and economic offices. The Government restricted freedom of religion, coercively promoted Buddhism over other religions, and imposed restrictions on religious minorities. The Government's control over the country's Muslim minority continued, and acts of discrimination and harassment against Muslims continued. The Government regularly infringed on citizens' privacy; security forces continued to monitor systematically citizens' movements and communications, search homes without warrants, and relocate persons forcibly without just compensation or legal recourse. The SPDC also continued to forcibly relocate large ethnic minority civilian populations in order to deprive armed ethnic groups of civilian bases of support. The Government continued to restrict freedom of movement and, in particular, foreign travel by female citizens under 25 years of age. The Government did not permit domestic human rights organizations to function independently and remained hostile to outside scrutiny of its human rights record. However, it allowed the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights (UNSRHR) in Burma to conduct two limited missions to the country, but the Government did not allow the UNSRHR to visit all sites requested or stay for as long as he requested. It also allowed the International Labor Organization (ILO) to operate a liaison office in Rangoon; however, after the May 30 attack on Aung San Suu Kyi the ILO deferred finalizing a draft agreement with the Government on forced labor. Violence and societal discrimination against women remained problems, as did discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities. The Government continued to restrict worker rights, ban unions, and use forced labor for public works and for the support of military garrisons. Forced child labor remained a serious problem, despite recent ordinances outlawing the practice. The forced use of citizens as porters by SPDC troops--with the attendant mistreatment, illness, and sometimes death--remained a common practice, as did Government forced recruitment of child soldiers. Trafficking in persons, particularly in women and girls primarily for the purposes of prostitution, remained widespread, despite some efforts to address the problem. Ethnic armed groups including the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South) also may have committed human rights abuses, including killings, rapes, forced labor, and conscription of child soldiers, although on a lesser scale than the Government..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Dept. of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 26 February 2004


Title: International Religious Freedom Report 2003: Burma
Date of publication: 18 December 2003
Description/subject: "Burma has been ruled since 1962 by highly repressive, authoritarian military regimes. Since 1988, when the armed forces brutally suppressed massive pro-democracy demonstrations, a junta composed of senior military officers has ruled by decree, without a constitution or legislature. The most recent constitution, promulgated in 1974, permits both legislative and administrative restrictions on religious freedom: "the national races shall enjoy the freedom to profess their religion, provided that the enjoyment of any such freedom does not offend the laws or the public interest." Most adherents of religions that are registered with the authorities generally are allowed to worship as they choose; however, the Government has imposed restrictions on certain religious activities and frequently abused the right to freedom of religion. There was no change in the limited respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. Through its pervasive internal security apparatus, the Government generally infiltrated or monitored the meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations. It systematically restricted efforts by Buddhist clergy to promote human rights and political freedom, discouraged or prohibited minority religions from constructing new places of worship, and, in some ethnic minority areas, coercively promoted Buddhism over other religions, particularly among members of the minority ethnic groups. Christian groups continued to experience increasing difficulties in obtaining permission to build new churches in most regions, while Muslims reported that they essentially are banned from constructing any new mosques, or expanding existing ones anywhere in the country. Anti-Muslim violence continued to occur. Restrictions on Muslim travel as well as monitoring of Muslims' activities and worship countrywide have increased in recent years. There are social tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Christian and Muslim minorities, largely due to colonial and contemporary government preferences. There is widespread prejudice against Muslims. Since 1988, a primary objective of U.S. Government policy toward the country has been to promote increased respect for human rights, including the right to freedom of religion. In March, the Secretary of State designated Burma a "country of particular concern" (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The Secretary of State also designated Burma a CPC in 1999, 2000, and 2001. During the period covered by this report, the U.S. Embassy promoted religious freedom during contacts with all facets of Burmese society, including officials, private citizens, scholars, representatives of other governments, international media representatives, and international business representatives, as well as leaders of Buddhist, Christian, and Islamic religious groups..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Dept. of State: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Format/size: html (65KB)
Date of entry/update: 18 December 2003


Title: Report on Activities to Support Democracy Activists in Burma as Required by the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003
Date of publication: 30 October 2003
Description/subject: "The restoration of democracy in Burma is a priority U.S. policy objective in Southeast Asia. To achieve this objective, the United States has consistently supported democracy activists and their efforts both inside and outside Burma. However, programming aimed at organizing the democratic opposition in Burma has been difficult in the face of the military junta's tactics of terror, torture, intimidation, and censorship. As conditions have deteriorated inside Burma, especially since the events of May 30, 2003, it has become increasingly difficult to meet growing needs; many opposition leaders are detained and isolated. Addressing these needs requires flexibility and creativity. Despite the challenges that have arisen, United States Embassies Rangoon and Bangkok as well as Consulate General Chiang Mai are fully engaged in pro-democracy efforts. The United States also supports organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute, and Internews, working inside and outside the region on a broad range of democracy promotion activities. U.S.-based broadcasters supply news and information to the Burmese people, who lack a free press. U.S. programs also fund scholarships for Burmese who represent the future of Burma. The United States is committed to working for a democratic Burma and will continue to employ a variety of tools to assist democracy activists..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Dept. of State: Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 10 November 2003


Title: Conditions in Burma and U.S. Policy Toward Burma for the Period March 28, 2003 - September 27, 2003
Date of publication: 27 October 2003
Description/subject: "Efforts to foster peaceful democratic change in Burma, already encumbered by an increasingly confrontational military regime, were dealt a severe blow on May 30 when government-affiliated thugs carried out a premeditated ambush on democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her convoy of National League for Democracy (NLD) party members and supporters. Since the May 30 attack, Burma’s military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has held Aung San Suu Kyi and all members of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee in indefinite "protective custody," arrested dozens of NLD members, and shuttered the party’s headquarters and all of its regional offices. The violent attack and its aftermath dominate the political scene in Burma. Despite significant pressure from the United States, the European Union, Japan, and, to a lesser degree, ASEAN, the Burmese junta has not taken any constructive steps to resolve the crisis or to begin a real dialogue with the NLD and other political parties, including ethnic minority groups, on substantive political issues. In July, President Bush signed the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 and the U.S. imposed significant additional economic sanctions on Burma. These new measures, which complement a ban on new investment in Burma and other existing sanctions, prohibit the import of any Burmese product into the United States, ban the provision of financial services to Burma, and freeze the assets of designated Burmese institutions, including the State Peace and Development Council. In addition, in June, the Department of State expanded the scope of an existing visa ban that targets Burmese officials and others who inhibit a transition to democracy to include all officials of the government-affiliated Union Solidarity and Development Association and the managers of state-owned enterprises and their immediate family members. On September 9, President Bush imposed further trafficking in persons-related sanctions on Burma, barring U.S. funding for Burmese government officials or employees in educational and cultural exchange programs. Absent significant progress toward a political transition, the U.S. will coordinate with the European Union and others to maintain pressure on the Burmese junta to make such progress. The European Union has expanded the scope of its asset freeze and visa restrictions; Canada has also imposed visa restrictions. Japan has frozen new development assistance to the junta. Should the SPDC fail to release a significant number of political prisoners or improve its human rights record, and should it continue to inhibit a meaningful political dialogue with the democratic opposition, the U.S. will consider additional measures in conjunction with the international community..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: US Dept. of State: Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 October 2003


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (2002)
Date of publication: 31 March 2003
Description/subject: Events of 2002. "Burma is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime. In 1962 General Ne Win overthrew the elected civilian government and replaced it with a repressive military government dominated by the majority ethnic group. In 1988 the armed forces brutally suppressed prodemocracy demonstrations, and a junta composed of military officers, called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by Senior General Than Shwe, took control. Since then the SPDC has ruled by decree. The judiciary was not independent, and there was no effective rule of law. The regime reinforced its firm military rule with a pervasive security apparatus, the Office of Chief Military Intelligence (OCMI). Control was implemented through surveillance of government employees and private citizens, harassment of political activists, intimidation, arrest, detention, physical abuse, and restrictions on citizens' contacts with foreigners. The SPDC justified its security measures as necessary to maintain order and national unity. Members of the security forces committed numerous, serious human rights abuses..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,and Labor, US Department of State
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept.: Burma - Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (2001)
Date of publication: 04 March 2002
Description/subject: Events of 2001. "Burma is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime. Repressive military governments dominated by members of the majority Burman ethnic group have ruled the ethnically Burman central regions and some ethnic-minority areas continuously since 1962, when a coup led by General Ne Win overthrew an elected civilian government. Since September 1988, when the armed forces brutally suppressed massive prodemocracy demonstrations, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), a junta composed of senior military officers, has ruled by decree, without a constitution or legislature. The Government is headed by armed forces commander Senior General Than Shwe, although Ne Win, who retired from public office during the 1988 prodemocracy demonstrations, continued to wield informal influence..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,and Labor, US Department of State
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept.- Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices (2000)
Date of publication: February 2001
Description/subject: Events of 2000
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US Department of State
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1999
Date of publication: 25 February 2000
Description/subject: Events of 1999
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998
Date of publication: 26 February 1999
Description/subject: Events of 1998
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US Dept. of State
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997
Date of publication: 30 January 1998
Description/subject: Events of 1997
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996
Date of publication: 30 January 1997
Description/subject: Events of 1996
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US Department of State
Format/size: html (84K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/USDOS-CR1996.htm
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Human Rights Practices, 1995
Date of publication: March 1996
Description/subject: Events of 1995
Language: English
Source/publisher: U.S. Department of State
Format/size: html (61K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept. - Burma: Human Rights Practices, 1994
Date of publication: February 1995
Description/subject: Events of 1994
Language: English
Source/publisher: U.S. Department of State
Format/size: html (123K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: US State Dept.:Burma: Human Rights Practices, 1993
Date of publication: 31 January 1994
Description/subject: Events of 1993
Language: English
Source/publisher: U.S. Department of State
Format/size: html (110K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003