Human Rights and Democracy 2014-15

Burma

This is one of 27 human rights priority countries included in the latest annual FCO Human Rights Report. Updates are published on the GOV.UK website every six months to highlight key human rights events in these countries, and to report on actions that the UK has taken.

Comments on the main report or updates can be made below. They will be monitored and moderated by staff at the Human Rights and Democracy Department at the FCO who will also try and answer as many questions as possible.

Read this section of the report on GOV.UK

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5 comments on “Burma

  1. Alastair Greig says:

    The report makes reference to financial aid to Burma, including increase direct development of £82 million for 2015/16, £25million over 5 years to strengthen democratic governance, £10 million contributed towards the census, £12 million in aid for Rakhine state and continuing programmes of humanitarian assistance all of which is highly laudable. Can you advise me please how the monies now being contributed directly into Burma has effected the aid previously given to Burmese refugees outside Burma including in particular assistance to those on the Thai – Burma border and the Mao Tao clinic in Mae Sot. Has their funding been reduced?
    Any helpful response would be greatly appreciated
    Alastair Greig

    1. FCO Human Rights says:

      Thank you for your question. DFID approved a renewed project for conflict affected people from October 2012 to November 2015, totalling over £27million. This includes our support to those on the Thai-Burma border, including to the Mao Tao clinic in Mae Sot, and has been a significant increase from our previous support. Funding beyond 2015 is currently under review and will be annouced in the coming months.

  2. Derek Tonkin says:

    I offer an alternative to your section on “Minority Rights”, which I believe more closely reflects the facts. I have eschewed “Rakhine” in favour of “Rakhine State” and “Burma” in favour of “Myanmar” in accordance with established international practice and recognised diplomatic protocol on geographical names as set out by the UK Permanent Committee on Geographical Names.

    Minority Rights

    The situation in Rakhine State remained of particular concern. Though local discriminatory regulations on marriage and children appear to be in temporary abeyance, Muslims communities continued to face severe restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly as well as the denial or restriction of access to livelihoods, schools, healthcare and places of worship. The Government’s refusal to recognise individual claims to citizenship compounded the denial of many basic rights.

    In January, a Police Sergeant was murdered by Muslim villagers at Du Chee Yar Tan near Maungdaw during a police raid, but reports of intercommunal violence at the time were later shown to have been much exaggerated. The reported deaths of eight villagers making their way to Bangladesh on the night of 9 January were later shown to have been untrue, while the deaths of over 40 villagers during a police raid on 13/14 January have not since been confirmed. A Muslim confidant later invited to stay in the village for several days confirmed that police action on the occasion had been brutal and that a woman had been raped, but was assured that the reports of deaths of over 40 villagers were not true. Some 20 villagers sought emergency medical treatment from Médecins sans Frontières, who were ordered to cease operations in Rakhine State after they refused to disclose their names to police investigating the murder of their colleague, on the grounds of patient confidentiality.

    In March violence in the State capital Sittwe primarily targeted the offices and residences of international humanitarian aid workers and led to the withdrawal of most international staff to ensure their safety. The violence was related to allegations of favouritism towards Muslim communities as well as to the forthcoming national census. The expulsion of MSF in particular left the provision of healthcare in a perilous state. Despite signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the government in August for a return of its operations, MSF had only been able to re-start operations in December. We continued to make clear to the government that they must ensure services are adequately delivered to all communities in Rakhine State.

    From April, the Burmese government started to take steps which may help address the long-term problems in Rakhine State, including the appointment of a new Rakhine Chief Minister, the drafting of a Rakhine Action Plan (RAP), and trialling citizenship verification for the local Muslim population. A pilot verification exercise began in a camp for internally displaced persons in June with over 1,200 people processed. By the end of 2014, only around 200 of these had had their citizenship status agreed; of these many obtained naturalised citizenship with fewer rights, and a small minority obtained full citizenship. We recognise the need for a transparent, consistent and inclusive citizenship verification exercise for the people of Rakhine State, and made it clear to the authorities that this must adhere to international standards. We encouraged the authorities to reach out to both communities to ensure that the process is fully understood by all. The development of the RAP was shared with parts of the international community in 2014. We believe that some parts of the initial draft plan would, if implemented, undermine the prospects for peace and stability across Rakhine State. We stressed the need for consultation on the plan with all communities in Rakhine State.

    We were disappointed that the Myanmar government went against its earlier commitment that all individuals would have the right to self-identify their ethnic origin in the census, to which the UK contributed £10 million, but understood that the maintenance of the commitment, unwisely given in response to international pressures, could well have led to intercommunal violence and a boycott of the census process by the majority Buddhist community in Rakhine State.

    The census was a critical step in Myanmar’s development and will provide much-needed information on where services are most required. In general, observers stated that the enumeration process was successful. However, in Rakhine State the option to select Rohingya as an alternative ethnic designation was not on offer. We made clear to the authorities our concern that this decision was in contravention of international standards on census conduct. The UK stands by the right of ethnic minorities to self-identify.

    We continued to urge the Myanmar authorities to work toward a long-term solution that brings peace and reconciliation, and protects the human rights of all communities within Rakhine State. The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State and, since 2012, we have provided £12 million in aid which supports shelter; water sanitation and hygiene programmes; nutrition and protection activities; and non-food items for over 114,000 people. We also support the UN’s coordination of the international humanitarian response.

    1. FCO Human Rights says:

      Thank you for your comments. These has been forwarded to FCO colleagues working in the Burma Team.

  3. zakia Hameed says:

    The dealings of the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, with other religions can best be described in the verse of the Quran:

    “To you be your religion, to me be mine.”

    The Arabian Peninsula during the time of the Prophet was a region in which various faiths were present. There were Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, polytheists, and others not affiliated with any religion. When one looks into the life of the Prophet, one may draw on many examples to portray the high level of tolerance shown to people of other faiths.

    In order to understand and judge this tolerance, one must look into the period in which Islam was a formal state, with the specific laws laid down by the Prophet in accordance with the tenets of religion. Even though one can observe many examples of tolerance shown by the Prophet in the thirteen years of his stay in Mecca, one may incorrectly think that it was only due to seeking to raise the profile of the Muslims and the social status of Islam and in general. For this reason, the discussion will be limited to the period which commenced with the migration of the Prophet to Medina, and specifically once the constitution was set.
    kindly stop killing of Muslims in Burma because Muslim is peaceful nation. Islam wants to spread love & peace in the world . If you are not agree please read the Quran .