Annual Report 2012
The state of the world's human rights
- Head of state and government
- Thein Sein (replaced Senior General Than Shwe, former head of state, in March)
- Death penalty
- abolitionist in practice
- 48.3 million
- Life expectancy
- 65.2 years
- Under-5 mortality
- 71.2 per 1,000
- Adult literacy
- 92 per cent
The government enacted limited political and economic reforms, but human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in ethnic minority areas increased during the year. Some of these amounted to crimes against humanity or war crimes. Forced displacement reached its highest level in a decade, and reports of forced labour their highest level in several years. Authorities maintained restrictions on freedom of religion and belief, and perpetrators of human rights violations went unpunished. Despite releasing at least 313 political prisoners during the year, authorities continued to arrest such people, further violating their rights by subjecting them to ill-treatment and poor prison conditions.
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In all of these conflicts, the Myanmar army launched indiscriminate attacks causing civilian casualties, at times directly attacking ethnic minority civilians. Credible accounts of the army using prison convicts as porters, human shields and mine sweepers emerged from Kayin state and adjacent areas of Bago and Tanintharyi divisions. In Kachin state, sources reported extrajudicial executions, children killed by indiscriminate shelling, forced labour, and unlawful confiscation or destruction of food and property. Shan civilians were tortured, arbitrarily detained and forcibly relocated. Soldiers reportedly sexually assaulted Kachin and Shan civilians. In August, ethnic armed groups, including some that had committed abuses, rejected the government’s offer of talks between individual armed groups and the relevant regional administration rather than talks between an alliance of such groups and the federal government. However, several groups agreed to ceasefires with the army during the year. In September, the army intensified fighting in Kachin and Shan states, violating human rights law and international humanitarian law. Some of these acts amounted to crimes against humanity or war crimes.
- On 7 June, a seven-year-old child was killed in Mae T’lar village in Kayin state’s Kawkareik township, when the army shelled the village with mortars.
- On 16 June, soldiers in Hsipaw township, Shan state, shot and killed a 35-year-old man, a 70-year-old woman and one girl, aged 13; all were civilians.
- On 18 September, soldiers in Shan state’s Kyethi township forced at least 10 local monks to act as human shields during an operation to deliver supplies to other troops in the area.
- On 12 October, soldiers killed a 16-month-old baby in Mansi township, Bhamo district in Kachin state, while storming a village and shooting indiscriminately.
- Beginning on 28 October and lasting several days, soldiers detained and reportedly gang-raped a 28-year-old Kachin woman in Hkai Bang village in Bhamo district, Sub-Loije township, Kachin state.
- On 12 November, Myanmar army soldiers extrajudicially executed four captured KIA fighters and tortured four others in Nam Sang Yang village, Waingmaw township, Kachin state.
- In March, the army forced approximately 200 households in Nansang township, Shan state, to move in preparation for the construction of a new regional command base.
- In April, soldiers burned down around 70 homes in seven villages in Mong Pieng township, Shan state, accusing the residents of supporting an armed group.
- In May, 1,200 refugees from Kyain Seikgyi township in Kayin state fled to Thailand.
Ethnic minority Rohingyas continued to face discrimination and repression primarily in Rakhine state and remained unrecognized as citizens. As a result, many continued to leave Myanmar on their own or were smuggled out, either overland to Bangladesh or on boats during the “sailing season”, in the first and final months of the year.
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- In October, Myanmar border security forces in Rakhine state’s Maungdaw township forced villagers to carry out construction work at a military camp.
- In August and early September, a government official in Chin State reportedly ordered civil servants to carry out manual forced labour in the capital Hakha.
- On 9 August, soldiers set fire to the Mong Khawn monastery in Mansi township, Kachin state, apparently because they suspected that the monks had provided support to the KIA.
- On 10 September, authorities in Htantlang village in Htantlang township, Chin state, ordered a Chin Christian preacher not to speak at a local church and to leave the area.
- On 14 October, authorities in Hpakant township, Kachin state, ordered local Christian churches to request permission at least 15 days in advance to carry out many religious activities.
- On 6 November, soldiers opened fire on a Christian church in Muk Chyik village, Waingmaw township in Kachin state, injuring several worshippers.
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- In February, a court sentenced Maung Maung Zeya, a reporter with Democratic Voice of Burma – a media outlet based outside Myanmar – to 13 years in prison for peaceful activities.
- On 26 August, Nay Myo Zin, a former military officer and member of an NLD-supported blood donation group, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression.
- On 14 September, Democratic Voice of Burma reporter Sithu Zeya, already serving an eight-year prison term, was sentenced to a further 10 years under the Electronic Transactions Act.
- In February, Htet Htet Oo Wei, who was suffering from a number of health problems, was placed in solitary confinement reportedly for making too much noise. She was denied family visits and parcels.
- In February, authorities in Yangon’s Insein prison placed political prisoner Phyo Wei Aung in solitary confinement for a month, after he complained about fellow inmates bullying other prisoners.
- In May, at least 20 political prisoners in Insein prison went on hunger strike to protest the government’s limited release of such prisoners that month and to demand better prison conditions. As punishment, seven were placed in cells designed to hold dogs.
- In July, the Monywa prison authorities in Sagaing division withdrew visitation rights to Nobel Aye (aka Hnin May Aung), after she urged high-ranking officials to withdraw recent public statements that claimed there were no political prisoners in Myanmar.
- In October, 15 political prisoners in Insein staged a hunger strike in protest against the denial of sentence reductions for political prisoners, in contrast to criminal convicts. Some were reportedly deprived of drinking water and were otherwise ill-treated. Eight of them were placed in “dog cells”.
- In October, information emerged that U Gambira, a Buddhist monk and leader of the 2007 anti-government demonstrations, was seriously ill and being held in solitary confinement. He had been suffering from severe headaches, possibly due to torture he was subjected to in prison in 2009. Prison authorities were reported to be regularly injecting him with drugs to sedate him.
President Thein Sein visited China in May and India in October. After being denied a visa in 2010 and earlier in the year, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar visited in August. The US Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma visited in September, October, and November. In September, the ICRC was authorized for the first time since 2005 to conduct an international staff-led engineering survey in three of Myanmar’s prisons. After a year-long debate, Myanmar was named Chair of ASEAN for 2014 in November. In December, for the first time in over 50 years, the US Secretary of State visited Myanmar.
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Human rights by region
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Amnesty International on social networks
- No international compromise on human rights in Myanmar
- Amnesty International calls for the urgent establishment of an international commission of inquiry as Myanmar rejects recommendations to end violations of international human rights and humanitarian law
- Myanmar: Government must go further with prisoner release
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