The Burmese military is responsible for ongoing repression and systematic human rights violations. ICTJ trains local groups to document these abuses so that they can advocate for a genuine democratic transition and support future accountability efforts.
A series of military leaders ruled Burma (now officially Myanmar) from 1962 to 2010. Reports of human rights abuses by the highly repressive regime include recruitment of child soldiers, forced displacement, detention of political prisoners, sexual violence, and extrajudicial killings as well as severe violations of economic, social, and cultural rights. Fighting also persists in areas of eastern Burma where military campaigns have reportedly resulted in crimes against humanity and war crimes.
A new constitution approved in 2009 provides amnesty for any crimes committed since 1988—perpetuating a culture of impunity.
In 2010, the military regime staged nationwide elections to ensure its continued monopoly on the country’s political life. Repressive election laws excluded many political parties from the ballot and entire communities from voting. The election laws and vote count irregularities guaranteed a majority for the military’s proxy political party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
The military and the USDP—with a history of carrying out attacks on civilians on behalf of the military—now hold a majority in the upper house, lower house, and all state and regional parliaments.
Following the election, the regime released world-renowned pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent more than 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010.
Despite prior ceasefires, armed conflict has escalated since the vote. The Burmese military has pressured ethnic armies—who have been fighting for self-determination since 1948—to come under government command. Many of them now refuse to transform into government forces without a political resolution to ongoing economic, political, and cultural discrimination.
ICTJ works to support local activists to document human rights abuses and bring perpetrators to justice. We also support the call for a UN commission of inquiry.
With ICTJ’s help, the Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma has built a database of over 3,000 records of human rights violations.
By supporting Burmese communities’ efforts to record instances of violence when they happen, ICTJ works with local organizations in preparing evidence to combat impunity. In the long-term, the information they collect now will contribute to an accurate historical record they can use in future justice and reconciliation efforts.