"Given the gross and systematic nature of human rights violations in Myanmar [Burma] over a period of many years, and the lack of accountability, there is an indication that those human rights violations are the result of a State policy that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels. According to the consistent reports, the possibility exists that some of these human rights violations may entail categories of crimes against humanity or war crimes."

- UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana (March 2010) 

BACKGROUND

The history and current situation of ethnic conflict in Burma is a complicated issue. For decades, Burma's various ethnic groups (accounting for roughly a third of the nation's population) have been struggling for basic rights and protection from unjust attacks. Every major ethnic group in Burma has their own armed group (or several sub factions). Burma's military regime, which is composed predominantly of the Burman ethnic group, has consistently responded to the demands of other ethnic groups with violence and aggression, targeting not just armed resistance groups but civilian populations. Almost all ethnic groups are not calling for separation from Burma, but just a federal system where the rights of ethnic peoples are respected.

Political rights, race, religion, and control of natural resources all play a heavy role in the situation. Burma's ethnic areas are rich with gems, timber, natural gas, and rivers for hydropower projects. All these natural resources are valuable sources of revenue for the top military leaders and their cronies.

There are roughly 30 ethnic armed groups in Burma, representing various ethnic communities. Some are weak with few soldiers and some are very strong with ample resources. Lots of the ethnic armed groups signed ceasefire agreements with the military regime in the early 1990s. Active fighting stopped, but true resolutions were never reached and ethnic persecution continued in those areas. There are several ethnic armed groups that never signed ceasefire agreements, and there has been ongoing conflict in those areas. In some cases, such as the Karen struggle, conflict has been lasting for over 60 years.

The military regime's focus on wiping out any resistance has created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Asia. The military regime has systematically used horrific measures such as forced labor, forced displacement, sexual violence, and executions. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes. They have done so without having to face any degree of justice.

During the past few months, Burma's civilian government leadership has worked to sign ceasefire agreements with various ethnic armed groups. The demands over the years from the ethnic groups has been a unified national dialogue to solve these issues, but instead Burma's negotiators have done individual negotiations. Each of these preliminary agreements are very fragile, and there are still many reports of troop movements, abuses, and incidences of fighting. While there are negotiations with some ethnic groups, Burma's army broke a 17-year ceasefire agreement in June 2011 with the Kachin people and conflict conitnues to fiercly wage today.

  • War Refugee in Kachin State (Partners Relief and Development) May 2012

  • Despite Reforms, Conflict Continues in Karen State (VOA) March 2012

  • Shan Villagers Face Conflict Crisis (DVB) August 2011

  • The World's Longest Ongoing War (Aljazeera) Aug 2011

 

RESOURCES


conflictmaplearn Interactive Conflict Map

We have created an interactive map that shows all the incidences of conflict and human rights since Thein Sein became President in March 2011.This by no means represents all the cases that have happened, but just those incidences made public and in English.

 

boxbottom Follow the Latest News/Tweets/Videos/Media

We have been maintaining a page that compiles all the latest info. Scroll through it to get a clear understanding about all that has been happening the past year.

 

boxbottom Read Reports

Find dozens of reports from organizations that have documented Burma's human rights and conflict situation over the years.

 

quintana Government Actions and Statements About Crimes Against Humanity in Burma.

The following are reports, parliamentary action, statements, and press releases from leaders around the world, calling for the UN to take concrete action on Burma and bring an end to the impunity that has plagued the country for decades.

 

rohingya Learn About the Stateless Rohingya

The Rohingya people in Western Burma are not allowed to be citizens in Burma or Bangladesh and so face added levels of abuses as stateless people.

 

childsoldiers Child Soldiers in Burma

The use of child soldiers continues unabated in Burma despite the Burma-UN joint action plan signed last year to end this heinous practice. This practice is in direct violation of international law.