The Plight of Burma

Excerpt from Burma Partnership:

In the last year there have been several positive developments in Burma, most recently and notably, the election of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to the People’s Assembly. While this development was a moment that the people of Burma had long hoped for, the victory of Daw Suu and the National League for Democracy (NLD) does not represent a momentous change for the country. The NLD holds only 6.6.% of seats, making it very difficult for the newly elected members of parliament (MPs) to effect any significant change within the parliament.

The election of 43 NDL MPs is the latest example of a trend where “positive” developments are not as consequential as they appear on the surface. Many of these so-called reforms have either been only partially implemented or there have been a complete reversal. These include the release of political prisoners while more than 950 still remain behind bars. President Thein Sein’s announcement of the suspension of the Myitsone Dam of which local villagers say construction has not stopped, and the ongoing conflict in many ethnic states despite ceasefire agreements with the government.

The government’s reforms to date have not adequately addressed crucial security and justice issues that pose significant challenges to international financial institutions wanting to reengage in Burma. These issues will need to be taken into consideration in the design of any development project.

For the majority of people in Burma, there has been no real positive change in their lives. Non-Burman ethnic people especially continue to face ongoing militarization, renewed armed conflict, land confiscation, forced displacement, rape, and other forms of human rights violations, particularly in conflict zones and development project areas.

This is a crucial time for the international community to support the political aspirations of Burma’s ethnic nationalities and their calls for equality, self-determination, and an end to armed conflict and human rights violations.

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