A mid-year report on the human rights situation in Burma by a national watchdog has noted a “stark increase” in violations by Burmese government forces and ethnic militias.
In its report released yesterday, the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) says it has accounted for 98 human rights violations between January and June this year, already more than the total of 84 from last year.
ND-Burma says it has documented 15 killings and 40 cases of torture this year, an increase from 11 killings and 26 torture cases in 2015.
The report said the upsurge in human rights violations highlighted the escalation of violence in ethnic areas where the Burmese army and ethnic armed groups engaged in armed conflict, noting that the violations were committed by both the government forces and rebel militias.
ND-Burma’s coordinator Han Gyi said a majority of the violations were documented in northern Shan State and Kachin State, where conflict has continued unabated in 2016.
“We conducted [our] survey for the report in 10 administrative regions across the country, focusing on the armed conflict in Shan and Kachin states, and treatment of political activists in ceasefire areas such as Mon State, and other regions,” said Han Gyi.
“A majority of the violations documented were in northern Shan and Kachin states – mostly killing and torture. But there is also a noteworthy case in Mon State where the Burmese army shot dead two local villagers – this indicates that the Burmese army are still committing human rights violations against civilian populations in ceasefire areas.”
He said the conflict in northern Shan State escalated after the previous government and eight ethnic armed groups signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in October last year.
ND-Burma urged the ruling government to ratify the Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol to demonstrate its commitment to establish a culture of respect for human rights.
ND-Burma, an umbrella group of human rights organisations from across the country, acknowledged the positive steps taken by the new government in attempting to resolve the ongoing conflict, pointing to the launch of a series of peace talks – the so-called “21st Century Panglong Conference” – which is due to begin on 31 August in Naypyidaw.
Read ND-Burma’s full report HERE