The video shows smoke rising from a burning village. Men, women and children are shown escaping from the ordeal. The military are present but do nothing as the people are assaulted by a variety of projectiles. An on-looking woman eggs on the violence shouting, “Kill them, Kill them!” These are the images that are coming out of Myanmar as of the time of this writing. What was initially dismissed as a local and isolated conflict has slowly revealed itself as increasingly sectarian and religious in nature. Not that sectarian violence is anything new in the country formerly known as Burma. It was one of the underlying themes of George Orwell’s Burmese Days back in 1934.
Burma in 2012 2012 was an important year for Burma, a Southeast Asia country with a population of approximately 60 million and also known as Myanmar, with significant and dramatic changes. The Military regime that ruled the country for many decades devolved. The undemocratic constitution, which was adopted by force and fraud in 2008, came into effect through the 2010 election, which placed the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in power. Burma’s democratic opposition is now working within the new political system. The National League for Democracy (NLD) party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has joined the Parliament through the by-election in April 2012. Ethnic politicians who boycotted the 2010 election have formed political parties and are prepared to stand in future elections. Workers are allowed to form trade unions and peoples are allowed to stage peaceful protest subject to advance permission.
Myanmar has undergone dramatic changes since the newly installed quasi-civilian government took power in 2011. President Thein Sein admitted that the country is in bad shape in every sector due to corruption, mismanagement and a decades-long civil war. He initiated limited political and economic reform by engaging with political dissidents, and opening up the economic and financial system to become realistic and competitive.
Optimism is running high in Myanmar. After several decades under the military rule, Myanmar is now undertaking a series of political reforms. And so far, the move has been impressive.
Allow International Monitors to Account for All Remaining Detainees (New York, January 13, 2012) -- The release of key political prisoners on January 13, 2012 is a crucial development in promoting respect for human rights in Burma, but all remaining political prisoners should be freed immediately and unconditionally, Human Rights Watch said today.
On 12 January 2012, a 19-member delegation, led by General Mutu Say Poe and Padoh David Taw under the supervision of the KNU Committee for Emergence of Peace, will begin talks in Pa-an with representatives of the Burmese government.
The International Federation for Human Rights, Ligue des droits de l'Homme - France, Altsean-Burma and Info-Birmanie have jointly sent an open letter to Alain Juppé, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, before his upcoming visit to Burma.
JAKARTA - The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus today welcomed Cambodia?s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but made clear it wanted to see increased focus and improvement in the protection of human rights and the strengthening of democratic institutions in Myanmar and across the region.
Paris-Bangkok, 6 January 2012 - The Burmese government is continuing its public relations game which has delivered little substantive change by refusing to honor previous promises to release all political prisoners, said the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma). This week it declared an “amnesty” that comprised the release of only a handful of political prisoners and prison term reductions that did not significantly bring most prisoners closer to freedom from arbitrary detention.
The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL-Foundation) welcomes recent political developments in Burma, progress which includes less censorship of the media; more engagement with the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi, and some ethnic groups; the release of some, though not all, political prisoners; and finally, the re-registration of the NLD as a political party to contest for the 48 parliamentary seats up for grabs in a by-election expected next year. The last year has seen substantive progress in the country and the regime’s positive steps should be recognized and encouraged.