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The Nation News 30-6-99
Burma abuses 'continue'
AMNESTY International yesterday accused Burma's ruling military of
widespread abuses against ethnic minorities, including killings, torture
and rape, and said its record had worsened since it joined Asean.
A report issued by the London-based human-rights group said the military
had killed "dozens" of unarmed farmers from Karen, Karenni and Shan ethnic
groups in the past year and forced large numbers off their land or to do
unpaid labour for the army.
The report said ethnic Karen refugees interviewed had described two dozen
killings of relatives and friends between mid-1998 and February. Shan
refugees interviewed by Amnesty in February described 20 extra judicial
executions by the army, and Karenni refugees several more.
Amnesty said such abuses had continued despite Burma's 1997 entry into
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"Asean countries then claimed that such a move would encourage the SPDC to
improve its human-rights record," it said, referring to Rangoon's ruling
State Peace and Development Council.
"In fact the opposite has been true," the report said.
The SPDC has stepped up its repres-sion of the opposition party, the
Nation-al League for Democracy, and increased forcible-relocation programmes.
"Forced labour in all seven ethnic - minority areas continues at a high
level, and forced portering, one of the harshest forms of forced labour,
occurs wherever there are counter-insurgency activities, Amneaty said.
It called on Asean, which groups Burma with Thailand, the Philippines,
Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia, to
pres-sure Rangoon at a ministerial meeting next month
"As Asean members gather in Sin-gapore in July 1999 for their annual
ministerial meeting, it behoves them to come up with a new strategy for
dealing with the SPDC's intransigence regarding human rights," Amnesty said.
It also said China should cease arms sales to Burma.