According to a new report released this week by the Free Burma Rangers, 900 residents of northwestern Burma have been forced into hiding due to a brutal military campaign in the area that indiscriminately targets civilians. These villagers are experiencing food and water shortages, and cannot return to their homes.
As part of a Burmese military campaign to quell pro-democracy movements in Chin and Arakon states, Burmese soldiers are forcing villagers to act as porters and engage in other brutal forms of forced labor for army troops. These forced labor demands are in direct violation of international law.
While the government of Burma would like world to think it has completed a transition to democracy, the United Nations – among other international bodies –notes that Burma has done little to improve its atrocious human rights record. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana recently outlined violations that include: land confiscation, forced labor, internal displacement, extrajudicial killings and sexual violence. As Quintana claimed on May 23, “They are widespread, they continue today, and they remain essentially unaddressed by the authorities.”
PHR documented widespread forced labor and numerous other crimes against humanity in its recent report Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma’s Chin State. PHR continues to monitor this situation, and calls on the Burmese government to respect the rights and livelihoods of its citizenry.