Bill Davis, PHR’s Burma Project Director, testified yesterday before the Canadian Parliamentary House of Commons on the human rights situation in Burma.
Canada recently lifted nearly all sanctions against Burma, following the election of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Burma’s Parliament. The election of the democracy icon was a turning point for the international community, and other countries joined Canada in loosening sanctions on the country. In his testimony, Davis stressed the need to push for more human rights improvements in the country, including the release of all remaining political prisoners, an end to attacks on civilians, and the establishment of effective accountability measures for perpetrators of human rights violations.
During the hearing, Davis shared stories from people he interviewed during his investigations in Burma:
In Kachin State I spoke with one man who was forced to walk in front of Burmese army troops to clear the path of landmines. I interviewed several more who had been forced to carry weapons and supplies for the Burmese Army. These abuses are not new: a grandfather told me how the Burmese Army tried to drown his wife in a bucket of water in the 1970s. Last year when the ceasefire in Kachin failed, he and his wife fled, not wanting to re-live the experience.
Continued human rights violations in Burma’s ethnic areas remain a blight on any progress the Government of Burma has made, and violations must be addressed before the country can build a genuinely peaceful future, said Davis.
Davis also stressed the urgent humanitarian need, especially in areas of conflict such as northern Kachin State. PHR today calls on the Government of Canada to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance both inside Burma and to refugees and migrants along its borders.