The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Myanmar (Burma)

By Vexen Crabtree 2018


#buddhism #china #christianity #equality #freedom #hinduism #human_rights #islam #Myanmar_(Burma) #politics #tolerance

Myanmar (Burma)
Union of Myanmar

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Land Area 653 290km21
Population48.7m (2011)2
Life Expectancy66.12yrs (2017)3
GNI$4 943 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesMM, MMR, 1045
Internet Domain.mm6
CurrencyKyat (MMK)7

Myanmar (Burma) is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Myanmar (Burma) does worse than average in opposing gender inequality9, LGBT equality10, supporting press freedom11 and in fighting corruption12. And finally, it falls into the bottom 20 in commentary from Human Rights Watch13, its Global Peace Index rating14, eliminating modern slavery15, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms16 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights17. After attacks on security force outposts by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants, in 2017, the Burmese military "launched a large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim population" and engaged in widespread crimes against humanity18. Human rights are poorly defended because of Burma's "weak rule of law, corrupt judiciary, and unwillingness to prosecute members of the security forces"18. Despite all this, China continued to strengthen economic ties to Burma and actively shielded its government from international action18.

1. Politics and Freedom

#burundi #corruption #eritrea #france #freedom #human_development #human_rights #indonesia #mass_media #Myanmar_(Burma) #peace #politics #slavery

After coordinated attacks on security force outposts by militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), in August 2017, the Burmese military "launched a large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State" and conducted large-scale abuses against human rights (include widespread rape), which together constituted crimes against humanity18.

"Despite the appearance of civilian rule, the military remained the primary power-holder in the country" and they blocked attempts legal attempts to restore democratic control18, with over 90 cases being brought via the often-abused 2013 Telecommunications Act section 66(d), although the President Htin Kyaw managed (against Parliament's wish) to reduce the maximum sentence from 3 to 2 years for offences.

Human rights are poorly defended because of Burma's "weak rule of law, corrupt judiciary, and unwillingness to prosecute members of the security forces"18.

"Religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, and Muslims, continue to face threats and persecution in a country that is approximately 88 percent Buddhist [and in] Sagaing Region, a Buddhist mob attacked Christian worshippers, destroying homes and personal property" although the government has taken some steps to stop extremists.18

Corruption (2012-2016)12
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score12
2New Zealand90.6
154Congo, (Brazzaville)22.8
155Congo, DR21.6
156Myanmar (Burma)21.4
World Avg43.05
Global Peace Index (2012)14
Pos.Lower is better14
2New Zealand1.24
138Myanmar (Burma)2.53
World Avg2.02
Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)13
Pos.Higher is better
109Central African Rep.-8
110Myanmar (Burma)-9
World Avg-1.9

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)17
Pos.Higher is better
3Costa Rica23
189Marshall Islands4
190Myanmar (Burma)4
World Avg15.1
Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)16
Pos.Lower is better
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
151Congo, DR151
153Myanmar (Burma)153
155Central African Rep.155
World Avg79.7
Press Freedom (2013)11
Pos.Lower is better11
150Myanmar (Burma)4471
World Avg3249

Amidst continued threats and intimidation of journalists, "the government increased its use of overly broad and vaguely worded laws to detain, arrest, and imprison individuals for peaceful expression"18 and the right to protest is still far too limited18.

Slavery (2018)15
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims15
147Papua New Guinea1.03
150Myanmar (Burma)1.10
World Avg0.65

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory19. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends20. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life21. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves22.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery23. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity24. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.25. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi15, Eritrea15, Indonesia26) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery27.

Human trafficking remained a serious problem in several areas [of Burma], particularly in the north where armed conflict and widespread displacement exacerbated financial instability. Women and girls in Kachin and Shan States who went to China in search of work faced abuses. Many women and girls were sold to Chinese families as "brides" and often faced horrific abuses including being locked up, subjected to sexual slavery, forced to bear children of their "husbands" by rape, and forcibly separated from their children. The Burmese government put few measures in place to protect women and girls from these abuses or assist women and girls who escaped or sought to do so.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)18

2. Gender Equality

#gender #misogyny #Myanmar_(Burma) #politics #women

Gender Inequality (2015)9
Pos.Lower is better9
80Myanmar (Burma)0.37
World Avg0.36

Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

Year Women Can Vote28
Pos.Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
43Myanmar (Burma)1935
46Dominican Rep.1942
World Avg1930

Myanmar (Burma) has made some steps towards ending gender inequality but much more needs to be done.


3. LGBT Equality and Tolerance

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #Myanmar_(Burma) #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)10
Pos.Higher is better
139Antigua & Barbuda-10
140St Vincent & Grenadines-10
142Myanmar (Burma)-10
World Avg12.6

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence29. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws30. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries29. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

4. Myanmar (Burma) Overall National and Social Development

#human_development #Myanmar_(Burma)

Social & Moral
Development Index
Pos.Higher is better
154Myanmar (Burma)44.5
World Avg53.8

The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life.

5. Popularist Human Rights Abuses Against the Rohingya

#democracy #politics #popularism

In politics, popularism is the effect of uninformed mass opinion on governance. It can transpire through the government being too sensitive to the loudest voices of the masses, through grassroots movements that are too narrow in scope to represent the entire population, through nasty forms of nationalism and jingoism. Popularist slogans are often catchy policies based on simple one-line policies that do not have a proper depth of research or meaning; hence, they appeal to 'the masses' and it is the job of politicians to convince the populace to pursue wiser courses of action than they would if left to their own devices. In the modern world, Internet-based and social media campaigns are becoming the most important source of public pressure on governments32 and this is giving enemies of democracy powerful new tools of interference33. The worst aspects of popularism are a disregard for minorities34 and any unpopular subcultures (wherein popularism becomes 'the tyranny of the majority')35 and the other main disadvantage is the pursuit of shallow and short-sighted policies that harm the nation in the long-run36,37,38. The solution to popularism is to ensure the politicians are professional, well-trained, well-educated, and who are not afraid to engage in long-term strategy that is unpopular in the short term.

"Popularism: When Mass Instincts Defeat National Strategy" by Vexen Crabtree (2018)

The cost of not standing up to populist attacks on human rights was perhaps starkest in Burma. Vitriolic nationalist rhetoric increasingly propagated by Buddhist extremists, senior members of the Burmese military, and some members of the civilian-led government helped to precipitate an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims, following a militant group's attacks on security outposts. An army-led campaign of massacres, widespread rape, and mass arson in at least 340 villages sent more than 640,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing for their lives to neighboring Bangladesh. [... There is] little immediate hope of the Rohingyas' safe and voluntary return, or of bringing to justice the people behind the atrocities that sent them fleeing.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)39

The anti-human-rights international community called the OIC, decided to support the UNHRC on this one issue:

Nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called for a special session of the UN Human Rights Council where they supported a resolution condemning Burma's crimes against humanity. The effort was notable because it represented a rare instance in which OIC members backed a resolution criticizing a particular country.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)40

6. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#christianity #hinduism #islam #religion_in_south_africa #south_africa

In this 88% Buddhist country, minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Muslims face "threats and persecution", and their religious activities are "tightly regulated", even in their own homes18.

In May [2017], authorities sent a letter to a Christian man in Rangoon, warning him not to continue to pray in his home with others without first receiving approval from authorities. In Sagaing Region, a Buddhist mob attacked Christian worshippers, destroying homes and personal property.

In April, a mob of about 50 to 100 Buddhist ultranationalists put pressure on local officials and police in Rangoon´s Thaketa township to close two Islamic schools. The authorities carried out the mob´s demand and have not reopened the schools, denying several hundred students access to education. Following the closures, local officials charged seven Muslims who participated in a publicprayer session on May 31.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)18

Current edition: 2018 Oct 26
Parent page: Myanmar (Burma) (Union of Myanmar)

All #tags used on this page - click for more:

#buddhism #burundi #china #christianity #corruption #democracy #equality #eritrea #france #freedom #gender #hinduism #homosexuality #human_development #human_rights #indonesia #intolerance #islam #mass_media #misogyny #Myanmar_(Burma) #peace #politics #popularism #religion_in_south_africa #sexuality #slavery #south_africa #tolerance #women

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References: (What's this?)

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