Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rights Group Says Burma Has Intensified Political Arrests

VOA News - Rights Group Says Burma Has Intensified Political Arrests

Voice of America again is on top of human rights and politics in Burma. According to VOA:
"Human Rights Watch says Burma's military government has doubled the number of political prisoners over the past two years.

The New York-based advocacy group Wednesday said Burma is holding more than 2,200 political prisoners, with 100 people jailed in recent months.

Burma has dismissed criticism of its human rights record and says it is implementing a so-called "road-map to democracy." The plan includes holding national elections next year for the first time in 20 years.

Human Rights Watch says Burma should immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners in Burma if the elections are to have any credibility.

The United States is reviewing its policy toward Burma to determine how best to encourage the government to reform. The top U.S. diplomat for Southeast Asia, Scot Marciel, said Wednesday that review will be concluded soon.

He said even if the policy changes, the ultimate goal will be for Burma to release political prisoners and have a more inclusive political process.

Human Rights Watch of course is not the only reporting agency to have a watchful eye on Burmese Human Rights matters. According to official CIA Factbook
records Burma has had problems with trafficking in persons:

"current situation: Burma is a source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; Burmese women and children are trafficked to East and Southeast Asia for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor; Burmese children are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Thailand as hawkers, beggars, and for work in shops, agriculture, fish processing, and small-scale industries; women are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Malaysia and China; some trafficking victims transit Burma from Bangladesh to Malaysia and from China to Thailand; internal trafficking occurs primarily from villages to urban centers and economic hubs for labor in industrial zones, agricultural estates, and commercial sexual exploitation; military and civilian officials continue to use a significant amount of forced labor; ethnic insurgent groups also used compulsory labor of adults and unlawful recruitment of children; the military junta's gross economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor are the top causal factors for Burma's significant trafficking problem tier rating: Tier 3 - Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; military and civilian officials remain directly involved in significant acts of forced labor and unlawful conscription of child soldiers (2008)."

There have been recent talks between high level US officials and Burma. But, otherwise there has not been significant relations and human rights is now going to be a top priority especially with the US re-joining the United Nation's on the Council in the most recent developments. This is a good opportunity for Burma to show they are willing to comply with international human rights standards.


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