Conflict Brings Rise in Number of Human Rights Abuses

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Reports of human rights abuses in Burma have increased dramatically this year compared to last as conflicts in the country continue to intensify, according to a leading human rights advocacy group.

“Numerous human rights abuses are occurring as a consequence of conflict, including cases of civilians being forced to act as porters,” Lway Chee Sangar, the coordinator of the Network for Human Rights Documentation—Burma (ND-Burma), told Kantarawaddy News.

According to the group’s documents, there were 52 confirmed cases of serious human rights reported in all of 2018. In the first half of this year, however, there were 239 documented cases in Burma’s seven regions and seven states.

The nearly fivefold increase in the first six months of this year compared to the whole of last year was attributed mainly to ongoing clashes between government forces and ethnic armed groups in Chin, Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states.

The worst victims have been civilians living in conflict zones, many thousands of whom have been forced to flee their homes to live in makeshift camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“We need a remedy for these people. Many have become IDPs and they need more help resettling. And we have to think about their mental suffering. We need to help them. It’s important to have justice for them too,” said Lway Chee Sangar.

During the report period (January to June 2019), there were a total of 156 clashes in all conflict areas. Of these, 98 were between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army, which is active mainly in Rakhine and Chin states.

Both the Burma Army and the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) have been accused of committing abuses.

According to ND-Burma, the Burma Army was responsible for 150 cases of human rights abuses, including torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, extrajudicial killing, illegal arrest and detention, disappearances, and indiscriminate artillery attacks and airstrikes on villages.

ND-Burma also reported that EAOs had committed similar abuses, including illegal arrest, disappearances, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, forced recruitment, and causing civilian casualties—in 22 cases.

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