12. The Freedom of Assembly, Association and Movement 

12.1 Background

12.2 International Travel

12.3 Restrictions on the Movement of Women

12.4 Restriction on the Movement of Migrant Workers to Thailand

12.5 Restrictions on Foreigners in Burma

12.6 Restrictions on the Freedoms of Assembly and Association

12.7 Restrictions on Political Parties

12.8 Other Social Organizations in Burma

12.9 The Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA)

12.10 Prohibition of Free and Independent Trade Unions

12.11 The National Convention (NC): Increased Control over Movement, Assembly and Association

12.12 Restrictions Subsequent to the 7 May 2005 Rangoon Bombings

12.13 Restrictions on Villagers in Border Conflict Areas

12.14 Restriction on the Movements of Religious Minorities

12.15 Restriction on the Movements and Harassment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD

12.1 Background

 

Throughout 2005, the SPDC continued to monitor and restrict the movement of the people of Burma. In contravention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the regime has actively impeded the ability of its people to travel both domestically and internationally. Villagers located in border areas and members of certain religious communities are particularly vulnerable to the regime’s policies. Meanwhile, the increasing number of people fleeing Burma in search of safety and security abroad has led to one of the largest migration flows in Southeast Asia. Simultaneously, foreigners, including humanitarian agencies attempting to deliver much needed aid supplies, seeking entry and access to certain areas of the country, were similarly hindered by the regime.

 

Rights to assembly and association are also largely curtailed by the regime. Despite their obligations under domestic law and international treaties to recognize and respect the rights of workers, the junta has banned trade unions and labor organizations in Burma. Many political parties and social organizations have also been outlawed by the regime. Those that are allowed to exist have been denied the ability to function freely and securely. In particular, the regime has targeted the NLD and their members. Meanwhile, people have been forced to participate in junta-organized assemblies and as members of junta-sponsored organizations.

 

Certain events caused the regime to tighten the already substantial restrictions against movement and assembly during 2005, including the 2005 National Convention (NC) sessions and the spate of bomb explosions in Rangoon on 7 May. As the preliminary process to drafting a national constitution, the NC proceedings have been fully controlled by the junta since they began on 9 January 1993. The highly unrepresentative and undemocratic process continued until 31 March 1996 despite several groups, including the NLD and SNLD, walking out in protest in November 1995 (source: “Press Release on NLD Withdrawal,” The NC Convening Commission, 28 November 1995). Sessions remained suspended until 17 May 2004 when international criticism of the regime following the attempted assassination of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and death of several NLD supporters during the Depayin Massacre’ on 30 May 2003 prompted the SPDC to resume the process. On 30 August 2003, the junta announced the renewal of the NC through a seven-point roadmap to democracy (source: “Prime Minister of the Union of Myanmar Met with Officials of the Ministries and Representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations,” NLM, 30 August 2003). Without any notable accomplishments, the 2004 sessions adjourned on 9 July 2004. Despite the ouster of Gen. Khin Nyunt from the post of Prime Minister, the junta continued the NC in 2005 (source: “Democratization to Continue,” BP, 27 November 2004). In light of the 2005 sessions, the junta increased restrictions on political activities and harassment of opposition and ethnic leaders in an attempt to stifle and intimidate their adversaries. Restrictions, monitoring, and harassment, particularly of the NLD, continued throughout the year as the sessions progressed. Meanwhile, the proceedings continued to be fully controlled by the junta. Similar to past sessions, delegates were under certain restraints and the junta limited access to the proceedings.

 

On 7 May 2005, several bomb blasts rocked Rangoon and resulted in increased restrictions throughout the country under the justification of security concerns. Political activists and villagers living in the border areas were particularly affected by the policies imposed following the bombings. The first explosion occurred at approximately 2:50 pm at the Rangoon Trade Center in Mingala Taungnyunt Township. Subsequent explosions occurred five minutes within each other at the Junction-8 Center in Mayangon Township and the Dagon Centre in Sangyoung Township, respectively (source: “More Than a Dozen Wounded in Myanmar Blasts,” AFP, 7 May 2005). According to the SPDC, the blasts killed 11 and injured 162 although other news sources report higher figures (sources: “Bomb Explosions Occur in Yangon Due to Inhumane Acts Committed by Terrorists Bomb Blasts at Crowded Sites Left Innocent People Dead, Injured,” NLM, 7 May 2005; “Myanmar Urges Vigilance as Post-bomb Rumours Swirl,” Reuters, 10 May 2005; “More than 70 People Killed in Rangoon Blasts, Not 19 as Claimed by Junta,” DVB, 24 May 2005). Immediately following the explosions, the regime initiated a widespread crackdown on their opponents and heightened travel restrictions across the country.

 

In addition to hindering the free movement of members of the general population, in 2005 the regime also imposed restrictions within their own ranks. Amid increasing rumors of a power struggle within the military top brass, it was reported on 1 February 2005 that the Vice Senior Gen. Maung Aye, the second highest military official in Burma, was prohibited from leaving Rangoon (source: “Junta’s Deputy Leader Reportedly Banned from Leaving Rangoon,” Irrawaddy, 2 February 2005). The junta also confined civil servants to Pyinmana, Mandalay Division, following the transfer of the regime’s offices and ministries from Rangoon to the new capital on the auspicious date of  5 November 2005 (source: “Moving Target,” Irrawaddy, 9 November 2005). Unprepared to receive the arriving workers, Pyinmana lacked proper accommodations, infrastructure, and adequate resources. To intimidate workers from fleeing back to Rangoon, the area was surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. In addition, deserters were threatened with arrest under Article 5(j) of the Emergency Provision Act for treason and insubordination (source: “Burmese Civil Servants Kept within Barbed Wires at New Capital,” DVB, 23 November 2005).

 Go to Top

12.2 International Travel

 

“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.” -Article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

Authorized international travel for citizens of Burma continues to be tightly circumscribed by the military regime. In contravention of customary international law, citizens from Burma are routinely denied the right to travel abroad for any period of time. While most nationals of Burma possess a National Identification Card, this card does not grant them permission to travel internationally (source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). To travel abroad, the authorities require three documents: a passport from the Ministry of Home Affairs; revenue clearance from the Ministry of Finance and Revenue; and a departure form from the Ministry of Immigration and Population (source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005). Despite recent peripheral procedural improvements, acquiring the necessary documentation for a passport and overseas travel continues to be fraught with corruption, bribery, and intense scrutiny by the junta.

 

Since 6 August 2004, when new passport procedures were implemented, the SPDC has been issuing passports valid for: one year for incidental travel, three years for dependents, four years for employment and 18 months for business travel. Contrary to earlier policies, under the new regulations, individuals are allowed to retain their passports upon returning from abroad. (Sources: “Burma Introduces New Passport Regulations,” The Myanmar Times, 30 August 2004; Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005).

 

Following the removal of the head of the passport department during the October 2004 purge of Gen. Khin Nyunt and his associates, the regime announced that passports would be issued within ten days. Beginning in 2004, the SPDC also began to distribute travel documents with electronic chips to businessmen and maritime merchants to improve security and to expedite the visa process. (Sources: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005; “Electronic IDs for Merchant Seamen,” The Myanmar Times, 30 April 2004).

 

The overhaul of the passport department, however, failed to stem the corruption and bribery attenuated with acquiring travel documents. The process of issuing passports in Burma continues to be largely restricted by the SPDC. Applicants are still forced to pay unreasonable fees and bribes to the junta. In addition to the requisite bribes, an application form reportedly costs 200 kyat while the passport itself costs 8,000 kyat. Women, however, must pay 250,000 kyat in order to obtain a passport. The junta has justified this policy as a means to protect women from traffickers and entering the sex industry abroad. Furthermore, certain applicants are required to furnish additional fees to the junta. University graduates, for instance, are required to pay an educational clearance fee to reimburse the regime for the cost of their education. Meanwhile, bribes tend to range from 10,000 kyat to 1 million kyat. (Source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005).

 

Generally, only those able to afford to pay exorbitant fees and bribes or those affiliated with the SPDC are able to obtain a passport. In addition, those seeking to travel abroad are subject to extensive questioning by the regime. Even when permission is granted, it may be arbitrarily revoked at any time. Several SPDC ambassadors had their diplomatic passports revoked in the first week of January after being removed from their posts during the October 2004 purge. Foreign Minister Maj. Gen. Nyan Win informed the four former ambassadors to the UK, Australia, Canada, and Switzerland that they have no need to travel abroad again. The regime has since denied a request by the former ambassador to the UK, U Kyaw Win, to travel to Singapore to attend the wedding of a close family member. Meanwhile, political opponents and former political prisoners continue to be categorically denied passports. (Source: “Burmese Passports Still Difficult to Acquire,” DVB, 29 January 2005)

 Go to Top

12.3 Restrictions on the Movement of Women

 

“Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” -Article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

The SPDC continues to heavily control the domestic and international movement of women in Burma. In an attempt to stem sustained criticism of trafficking violations in Burma, the SPDC has imposed increasingly restrictive measures that, in effect, limit the ability of women to move freely in and around Burma. Ironically, by limiting women’s freedom of movement, the anti-trafficking provisions promulgated by the SPDC have forced women to rely on smugglers and corrupt officials thereby rendering them more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and financial hardship. Meanwhile, despite the regime’s policies, the trafficking of women continues. (For more information see Chapter 7 Rights of Women).

 

Since 2001, Burma has been ranked as a Tier 3 country by the U.S. government for failing to comply with the minimum standards of the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, making Burma one of the worst offenders of human trafficking in Asia. According to the U.S. State Department, women from Burma, particularly ethnic women, continue to be forcibly taken not only to other parts of Burma but also across international borders. (Source: Trafficking in Persons Report, U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, 3 June 2005).

 

Internal trafficking is most frequently perpetrated by the regime itself. Women are often forced to leave their homes and families in order to work as laborers and porters for the military (source: Trafficking in Persons Report, U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, 3 June 2005). On 17 May 2005, the Kachin Women's Association of Thailand (KWAT) released a report, Driven Away: Trafficking of Kachin Women on the China-Burma Border, which evidenced the use of internally trafficked women for forced work in karaoke bars and massage parlors (source: “Trafficking of Kachin Women Exposed,” Irrawaddy, 17 May 2005).

 

Faced with economic deprivation and targeted for human rights abuses by the regime in Burma, many women fall victim to international traffickers in their attempts to leave Burma in order to find employment and security abroad. Due to the numerous travel restrictions placed on women, women are forced to pay large sums of money to “carriers.” By relying on carriers, women are vulnerable to the opportunistic motives of traffickers who often promise work opportunities abroad in addition to guided passage through Burma. Meanwhile, even with a well-intentioned carrier, women face arbitrary fees and fines, confiscation of their identification documents, physical searches, arrests, confinement and potential deportation back home. In order to avoid harassment or conflict zones, the route out of Burma is often circuitous and lined with hunger, illness and generally harsh conditions. Moreover, those women who are successful in making it to their destination continue to be at risk of labor and sexual exploitation as well as traffickers in their host country. (Source: Migrant Domestic Workers: From Burma to Thailand, Institute for Population and Social Research, July 2004).

 

Women from Burma who fall victim to international traffickers are transported to all parts of Asia, including Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Korea, Macau, and Japan, where they are often forced into involuntary domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, as well as forced labor (source: Trafficking in Persons Report 2005, U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, 3 June 2005). According to the KWAT, women as young as 14 from Kachin State have been transported into China where they are sold as wives or into the sex industry or they simply disappear (source: “Trafficking of Kachin Women Exposed,” Irrawaddy, 17 May 2005). While some women manage to escape trafficking situations, the collusion of local authorities, language barriers, and lack of financial resources hinders repatriation efforts (source: Driven Away: Trafficking of Kachin Women on the China-Burma Border, KWAT, 17 May 2005).

 

In reaction to increased criticism of trafficking violations in Burma, the regime has taken steps to create the appearance of a hard-line stance against trafficking. In 1998 the regime established a National Plan of Action for Trafficking Women and Children as well as a National Task Force. Burma also became a signatory to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and two of its protocols, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children on 30 March 2004. (Source: Driven Away: Trafficking of Kachin Women on the China-Burma Border, KWAT, 17 May 2005). In October 2004 and March 2005, the SPDC participated in the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT). (Source: “Mekong Nations Gather in Hanoi to Boost Anti-Human Trafficking,” Vietnam News Briefs, 30 March 2005).

 

However, to counteract the trafficking problem in Burma, the policies of the regime have focused on enforcement and prosecution rather than root causes. On 13 September 2005, the SPDC enacted the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law,” which delineates harsh sentences ranging from 5 years to life imprisonment against human traffickers (source: “Burma Passes Anti-human Trafficking Law with Questionable Details,” DVB, 14 September 2005). Since July 2002, the SPDC claims to have prosecuted 474 cases related to trafficking for sexual exploitation. Despite extensive enforcement policies, no SPDC official has been charged with human trafficking. Meanwhile the SPDC continues to traffic women for use as forced laborers and porters (source: Trafficking in Persons Report, U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, 3 June 2005).

 

By ignoring the causes of trafficking, the regime’s “anti-trafficking” measures contribute very little in providing long-term solutions but instead target and oppress the ability of women to move freely, both domestically and internationally. Since 1997, many ethnic women under the age of 25 have not been permitted to travel between towns without a guardian or a special permit (source: Belak, Brenda, Gathering Strength: Women from Burma on Their Rights, Images Asia, January 2002). To enforce this policy, the regime has stationed police task force teams in border towns since 2004 to monitor the movements of women (source: Trafficking in Persons Report, U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, 3 June 2005). To limit the ability of women to travel internationally, the regime has made it prohibitively expensive for women to obtain an official passport. Fees for a man to acquire a passport amount to about 10,000 kyat, while a woman must expend 250,000 kyat. The regime has justified this cost differential as a measure to protect women from international traffickers (source: “Burmese Passports Still Difficult to Acquire,” DVB, 29 January 2005).

 

The most recent misguided “anti-trafficking” measure ratified in October 2005, which effectively prohibits women under the age of 25 from crossing the Thai-Burma border between Tachileik and Mae Sai without special authorization. Women with permission are required to leave their national registration card with immigration before entering Thailand, which is then returned upon reentry. Meanwhile, many women in the ethnic areas have never been issued national registration cards and can only obtain one by paying substantial bribes. Without the necessary identification documents, women are even more dependent on traffickers. (Source: “No Stopping the Girls Leaving Home,” SHAN, 27 October 2005).

Go to Top

12.4 Restriction on the Movement of Migrant Workers to Thailand

 

Severe economic deterioration over the past year in addition to continued militarization and internal conflict in Burma has contributed to a greater influx of migrant workers from Burma crossing into Thailand, both legally and illegally, in search of relief from daily hardships. Migrants from Burma often pay between 5,000 to 10,000 baht in fees and bribes to gain entry into Thailand (source: Jerrold W. Huguet and Sureeporn Punpuing, International Migration in Thailand, IOM, 2005). Most of those entering Thailand are from the ethnic conflict areas, including Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan States as well as from Bago and Tenasserim Divisions (source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). According to the most recent estimates, approximately two million people from Burma work in neighboring Thailand, making up approximately 80 percent of the migrant workforce in Thailand (sources: Migrant Domestic Workers: From Burma to Thailand, Institute for Population and Social Research, July 2004; Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). Many of migrant workers from Burma work in the illegal, unregulated labor market or in “3-D jobs” (dangerous, dirty and difficult) that often pay well below the minimum wage. Meanwhile, neither Thailand nor Burma are signatories to the 1990 UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which provides basic human rights to those crossing international borders (source: Migrant Domestic Workers: From Burma to Thailand, Institute for Population and Social Research, July 2004). (For more information see Chapter 15 Situation of Migrant Workers).

 

As the recipient of hundreds of thousands of legal and undocumented migrant workers, Thailand has made efforts to regularize the migration flow. In July 2004, the Thai government initiated a registration program to document migrant workers within their borders and issue proper documents to work. Of the 814,000 persons who applied for work permits in Thailand, three fourths were from Burma. A one-year work permit cost approximately 3,800 baht. Meanwhile, the work permit did not permit travel outside the registered province and workers were only allowed to work for the registered employer. Due to this relatively high expense of obtaining a permit and the attenuated restrictions, many migrant workers remain unregistered. (Source: Jerrold W. Huguet and Sureeporn Punpuing, International Migration in Thailand, IOM, 2005). The 2005 registration process extended from June through August during which time 702,179 workers registered. The number of workers, however needed by Thai employers was at 1,800,000. Due to the shortage of workers, the Thai government announced another registration session in 2006, despite earlier announcements that the 2005 process would be the final period for registration. (Source: MAP, 2006).

 

While Thailand has attempted to regularize the migrant workforce, the SPDC has made efforts to stem the tide. On 13 October 2001, the SPDC went so far as to enact a law imposing stiff penalties on anyone who attempted to leave Burma illegally. More recently, the junta asked Thailand to forcibly return an estimated one million migrant workers in April 2005 in order to verify their identities and issue them proper documents to work abroad (source: “Myanmar Wants Workers in Thailand to Return Home: Minister,” AFP, 12 April 2005). Thailand was hesitant to comply and alternatively proposed to pay for officials from Burma to travel to Bangkok to verify the nationality of migrant workers. The SPDC eventually backed down from their original demands. However, on 20 December 2005, the Thai authorities stated in a cabinet meeting that they would cooperate with the SPDC to establish a system to verify the nationality of workers from Burma.

 

Meanwhile, the Thai authorities continued to officially deport 400 undocumented workers to Burma each month in accordance with a June 2003 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries. The deportees are sent to a SPDC reception center in Myawaddy, Karen State (source: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Human Rights Watch, February 2004). The reception center in Myawaddy was established following an earlier MoU between Thailand and Burma in November 2001 to build several centers along the Burma-Thailand border to facilitate the repatriation of returnees. In Myawaddy, returnees are screened by the Ministries of Health and the Interior, the police, the immigration authorities and the army and/or DKBA. They are photographed, fingerprinted, and checked against existing files. In direct contravention of the UN’s HIV Principles and Guidelines, all returnees are also tested for HIV as well as other communicable diseases. (Source: T. Caouette and M. Pack, Pushing Past the Definitions: Migration from Burma to Thailand, Refugees International and the Burma Project, December 2002).

 

Migrant workers from Burma were greatly affected by the tsunami that struck the Andaman coast on 26 December 2004. Thousands of migrant workers from Burma living in Thailand lost their lives (source: “2,500 Myanmar Migrants in Thailand Killed by Tsunami-NGOs,” AFP, 16 January 2005). Those that survived the massive tidal wave have since been struggling against callous discrimination by the Thai authorities and complete disregard by the SPDC. In the tsunami aftermath, migrant workers from Burma received the brunt of the blame for post-tsunami looting. As a result, Thai government officials began arresting and deporting migrant workers without official documentation. Thousands of migrants were deported to Burma following the tsunami (sources: “Call to Ease Migrant Worker Restrictions: Fear of Arrest Scares Burmese Labourers,” BP, 27 January 2005; “Thailand: Discriminatory Relief Operations and Forced Deportation against Burmese Migrant Workers Affected by the Tsunami,” AHRC, 19 January 2005; “A Khao Lak Diary,” Grassroots HRE and Development Committee (Burma), 21 January 2005). This action forced thousands of undocumented workers and survivors from Burma who had lost all their personal documentation in the tsunami into hiding (source: “Thai Authorities Send Unregistered Burmese Migrants Home,” BBC Monitor, 9 January 2005). In hiding, these survivors initially had limited access to much needed aid provisions. Discrimination against those from Burma affected by the tsunami continued during the one-year anniversary commemoration. While Thailand extended invitations to 5,000 foreigners to attend ceremonial events held in Southern Thailand, relatives of victims from Burma were markedly left off the list. (Source: “Relatives of Burmese Victims May Not Attend Tsunami Anniversary,” Irrawaddy, 17 October 2005).

 

In response to the natural disaster, the junta demonstrated a complete lack of concern for its own nationals affected by the tsunami in Thailand. Immediately following the tsunami, the regime made no effort to offer any support to survivors (source: “Myanmar Workers in Thailand Are the Forgotten Tsunami Victims,” AFP, 19 January 2005). The regime has also made no effort to claim the bodies of victims from Burma. With Rangoon refusing to certify the identity of bodies as nationals of Burma, Thailand has been unable to return the bodies to Burma for burial. As a result, approximately 60 bodies remained on Thai soil at the end of the year (source: “Burmese Tsunami Bodies Caught in Red Tape,” Irrawaddy, 23 November 2005). The regime has also been obstructive in the repatriation process of those returning to Burma. In late January, at least 40 survivors attempting to return to Burma at the Three Pagodas Pass border crossing were required to furnish fees to re-enter their home country despite having lost most if not all their possessions in the tsunami (source: “Survivors of the Tsunami Fined in Burma,” Mizzima, 24 January 2005). Other returnees were barred from entering Burma at the Kawthaung border checkpoint in Tenasserim Division, Burma (source: “Burma Migrants Fear Expulsion from Thailand: Following the Disaster, Many Are in Hiding in the Hills,” Financial Times, 13 January 2005). Meanwhile the process of reissuing lost work permits to workers from Burma remaining in Thailand progressed slowly (source: “Migrant Workers Given Back Permits,” Irrawaddy, 28 February 2005).

Go to Top

12.5 Restrictions on Foreigners in Burma

 

To promote tourism, the SPDC has eased restrictions on tourists seeking entry into Burma and improved the visa application process. In 2005, the regime began issuing visas on arrival through the e-visa system, which allows foreigners to apply for a visa over the Internet. Foreigners were also able to obtain one-month visas within 24 hours from the Burmese embassy. (Source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005).

 

Internal restrictions on tourists were also reportedly relaxed in 2005. Some non-citizens, however, including ethnic South Asians or Chinese were discriminatorily required to obtain advanced permission to travel internally in Burma. The SPDC also banned foreigners from traveling to Pyinmana. One European tourist reported not being able to purchase a bus ticket to Pyinmana. He was then denied accommodations at every guesthouse and hotel in and around Pyinmana. When he attempted to stay overnight at a monastery, the police informed him that, “No foreigners can stay in Pyinmana.” He was then forced out of the area. (Source: Maxmilian Wechsler, “European Gets Cold Reception in Pyinmana,” New Era Journal, 2005). The regime also limited foreigners from entering university campuses and areas of active armed conflict without prior permission. In addition, all foreigners, other than diplomats, were required to obtain authorization prior to leaving Burma (source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005).

 

While the SPDC minimized obstacles for tourists seeking visas into Burma, access for journalists, human rights activists, political figures and international NGO and UN agencies declined in 2005. The SPDC routinely refused non-tourist visas to these particular applicants (source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005). On 18 December 2005, the junta denied access to Chuan Leekpai, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, citing security concerns without further explanation (sources: “Former Thai PM Denied Entry to Myanmar (Burma),” AFP, 20 December 2005; “Myanmar Junta Bans Entry of Former Thai Prime Minister,” AP, 20 December 2005). There were some improvements from last year with regard to foreign journalists seeking entry into the country to cover the 2005 NC sessions. While, in previous years, the SPDC restricted access of foreign correspondents reporting on the constitutional drafting proceedings, in 2005 the regime issued visas to a select number of journalists. Burma focused journalists however continued to be denied entry visas into the country (sources: “Media Invited, NC Slammed,” Irrawaddy, 16 February 2005; “Burma Restricts Convention Reporting by Foreign Journalists,” DVB, 18 February 2005).

 

Despite the junta’s continued exclusion of the UN Special Envoy for Burma Razali Ismail and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the regime opened the country to two top level UN officials. In early August 2005, the regime allowed James Morris, the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) into Burma, making him the most senior UN official to gain access to Burma since 2003 (source: “Top UN Official Due in Rangoon: Annan Visit May Be Discussed with Junta,” BP, 1 August 2005). Morris’ visit to Burma was followed by former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, who arrived in Rangoon on 18 August 2005 as one of UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan’s Envoys to the 2005 World Summit (source: “Former Indonesian FM Will Meet Than Shwe,” Irrawaddy, 18 August 2005).

 

While UN projects and NGO groups have been allowed to operate inside the country, the junta has limited their presence and activities. UN organizations in Burma include the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Program (WFP). The ILO has also maintained a liason office in Rangoon, although its activities were largely circumscribed by the regime during the year following criticism of the regime’s ongoing forced labor practices. There were few international aid agencies and even fewer NGO’s operating in Burma due to the difficulty of securing an official MoU with the junta. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a notable exception with a substantial presence in Rangoon and Karenni, Shan, and Mon States. The SPDC continued to allow the ICRC to conduct prison visits throughout the year (source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). The USDA, however, attempted to accompany the ICRC to a Tharawaddy prison in December causing the ICRC to cancel the visit. Furthermore, there continued to be reports of Shan villagers being tortured by SPDC troops after communicating with visiting representatives of the ICRC and human rights groups (source: “Myanmar's Dissidents Plot Strategy as Junta Holds Charter Talks,” AFP, 27 February 2005).

 

Following the October 2004 ouster of Khin Nyunt and amid the ongoing 2005 NC proceedings, the SPDC tightened travel restrictions for all non-tourist activities, including for UN agencies and humanitarian aid organizations operating inside Burma (source: “Myanmar Tightens Screws after Abandoning ASEAN Chair: Analysts,” AFP, 15 August 2005). Advanced permission from the SPDC was required for all travel beyond certain designated tourist sites. In some cases, representatives from international NGOs and UN agencies were required to be escorted by an SPDC agent during field missions (source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005). Junta-imposed procedural delays in obtaining permits to travel within the country further hampered humanitarian operations in Burma, particularly for organizations delivering aid to the border areas. Aid agencies seeking travel permits were required to deal directly with the Ministry of Defense. Lower level officials refused to grant approval as they had in the past. Meanwhile, previously negotiated MoU’s between the junta and NGO’s were disregarded (source: “NGOs Suffer from Tensions in Burma,” Irrawaddy, 21 June 2005). Further procedural delays were expected with the sudden relocation of SPDC ministries to the isolated mountainous region of Pyinmana, Mandalay Division. The increased delays have threatened the viability of new projects and the sustainability of operating NGO’s with limited timeframes and resources (source: “NGOs Suffer from Tensions in Burma,” Irrawaddy, 21 June 2005).

 

For certain areas of the country, particularly in the border areas, the junta restricted any NGO from gaining access (source: “NGOs Suffer from Tensions in Burma,” Irrawaddy, 21 June 2005). During his visit to Burma, James Morris of the WFP expressed deep frustration over a range of junta-imposed policies that continued to actively obstruct aid operations in Burma, including the array of permits, checkpoints, local taxes and other restrictions (source: “Myanmar to Lift Food Aid Tax, Barriers Remain- WFP,” Reuters, 5 August 2005; Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). These conditions have been needlessly hampering the activities of NGO and UN agencies operating in Burma. The WFP attributed the widespread food insecurity and child malnourishment on travel restrictions. Bhim Udas, the head of the WFP in Burma, blamed a three-month delay in transporting food aid to Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung Townships in Arakan State on impediments imposed by the junta. Meanwhile, the Arakan Rohingya National Organization in September 2005 indicated that Arakan State was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis with villagers facing starvation (source: “Junta Restrictions Cause Food Shortages among Rohingyas,” Irrawaddy, 23 September 2005). In October, restrictions reportedly were eased for NGOs that registered with the Ministry of Health (source: The Arakan Project, 9 November 2005).

 

Following his visit to Burma, Mr. Morris recommended, “that the government would be well-advised to make it easier for people to move about, to buy and sell agricultural commodities, without so many check-points, without economic interference from the government” (sources: “Myanmar to Lift Food Aid Tax, Barriers Remain- WFP,” Reuters, 5 August 2005; Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). The issue of movement restrictions on aid agencies came to a head when the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria pulled out its funding for its programs in Burma on 18 August 2005 (source: “UN Aids Organization Leaves Burma,” BBC, 19 August 2005). Citing “an impossibly difficult environment to work in,” Global Fund terminated a total of $98.4 million that had been allocated for a five-year period. All operations ceased on 1 December 2005. This move struck a heavy blow to a country where 330,000 suffer from HIV/AIDS, 97,000 cases of tuberculosis are reported annually and about 600,000 people are infected with malaria on a yearly basis. (Sources: Fact Sheet: Global Fund Termination of Grants to Myanmar, Global Fund, 18 August 2005; “Junta Pressure Forces AIDS Fund Out,” The Australian, 20 August 2005).

 

While the ILO was previously exempted from particular travel restrictions, which applied to other international organizations, the ILO fell into disfavor with the regime following harsh criticism of forced labor practices in Burma. On 4 June 2005, the ILO called on the international community to “intensify the review of their relations with Myanmar [Burma]” and “take the appropriate actions, including as regards foreign direct investment” (source: “International Labor Conference Convenes Special Sitting for the Fifth Time in as Many Years to Address Forced Labor Issues in Burma,” ILO Press Release, 4 June 2005). The SPDC retaliated by holding anti-ILO rallies, refusing to probe death threats against the ILO liaison officer Richard Horsey, and sentencing to prison Su Su Nway, a villager who had successfully sued local officials on forced labor charges. While the SPDC allowed the ILO to maintain a liaison office in Rangoon, they severely limited its activities. In August and September 2005, the office received 21 death threats cautioning it not to interfere with the internal affairs of Burma. U Thaung, the junta Minister of Labor, also threatened that Burma would withdraw from the organization but this threat never materialized. While ILO workers continued to conduct interviews of villagers, the junta monitored all ILO visits. Throughout the year, there continued to be reports of harassment of those in contact with ILO representatives. (Source: “US Concern over Burma Junta's Reported Harassment of ILO,” DVB, 29 October 2005).

Go to Top

12.6 Restrictions on the Freedoms of Assembly and Association

 

“Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” -Article 20, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

In violation of basic human rights standards, the military regime uses a number of laws to suppress the rights to assembly and association. The most frequently enforced law is the 1908 (1957) Unlawful Associations Act, which allows the detention of up to five years of anyone who is a member of, or assists in any way, an organization considered illegal by the junta. By being implemented in an arbitrary and heavy-handed manner this law is typically used to suppress peaceful political dissidents. A number of organizations, including political parties, student unions, profession groups, religious associations, as well as armed opposition groups, have been declared illegal under this Act.

 

The SPDC has also been using the Habitual Criminal Offenders Act in order to restrict the activities of political leaders. This act was promulgated in 1961 to establish a permanent probation for repeat criminal offenders, forcing them to register with the authorities on a daily basis. While the act was originally devised to monitor and restrict habitual criminals, the SPDC has been employing the Act since July 1998 to tighten their control over former political prisoners, including NLD MP’s. Under section 5/1(g), the SPDC has limited the ability of NLD leaders to move beyond a prescribed area.

 

Order 2/88 was enacted on 18 September 1988 to prohibit the gathering of more than five persons in one place. Under this law, the SPDC continued to crackdown on all ethnic and political gatherings, arresting participants and organizers of non-sanctioned activities.

 

Order 6/88, the Law of Formation of Associations and Organizations, was created on 30 September 1988, following the military crackdown on the nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations. It defines an organization or association as “an organization, union, party, committee, headquarters, syndicate, front... or similar association and organization that may not have a name but is composed of a group of people for a purpose or program.” All organizations fitting this description must be granted official government permission to function, without which they have no right to operate. If denied permission, members of such an organization may be subject to up to three years imprisonment (source: Myanmar; Justice on Trial, AI, 30 July 2003) On 29 August 2005, the junta used Act (16) of Unlawful Organizations to declare several established organizations illegal. Using the 7 May 2005 Rangoon bombings as their justification, the junta outlawed the NCGUB, the Federation of Trade Unions - Burma (FTUB), the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the SSA-S (source: “Press Conference,” SPDC, 29 August 2005).

 

While there are ten political parties legally recognized by the junta, they are still required to obtain permission from the authorities prior to conducting any meetings or assemblies. Legal recognition has also not spared political parties from severe restrictions and harassment by the authorities. The NLD, one of the ten, has been constantly oppressed by the regime, its leaders and members targeted, activities limited, and movements monitored. Problems for the NLD continued throughout 2005 and its offices, except for the main office in Rangoon, remained closed. (For more information see Section 12.15 Restriction on the Movements and Harassment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD). Religious and ethnic organizations and gatherings have also been subject to extensive limitations by the junta.

 

To facilitate increased monitoring of people, the regime issued Order 1/90 on 22 May 1990 indicating that “action will be taken against all those who fail to report people illegally residing in their homes.” Under this law, any visitor to a house who stays for one night or more must be registered at the local township office. Violators are subject to section 124 of the criminal code, which includes “failing to disclose to the authorities concerned either an act or a conspiracy that amounts to high treason.” The authorities regularly rely on this Act during periods of increased tension. In the days leading up to the 27 March 2005 Armed Forces Day, the junta implemented a widespread crackdown on unregistered overnight guests. In conjunction with heightened security measures, Htwe Myint, Vice Chairman of the Democracy Party was arrested and detained for 15 days for failing to register with the authorities (source: “Security Measures Intensify,” Irrawaddy, 10 March 2005).

 

While the junta has suppressed free assembly, they have also organized forced assemblies. Following the controversial formation of an independent Shan State Federal Government by a Shan group in exile, some Shan resistance groups organized secret rallies in support of the new government (source: “Myanmar Declares Shan Ethnic Group as Outlawed Organization,” Xinhua, 19 April 2005). The junta, however, retaliated against villages believed to support what was later called the Interim Shan Government (ISG). In Wan Paang village, Lai-Kha Township, villagers accused of supporting the ISG were arrested, beaten and detained by troops led by Capt. Win Laing of SPDC IB 64 in late April and early May 2005. In addition, the junta forced villagers to participate in protests against the ISG. On 8 May 2005, the junta organized mass rallies and forced villagers from Wan Panng Village, Lai-Kha Township to attend. Villagers were forced to read speeches written by the military authorities condemning the Shan government and to shout slogans against the Shan government in unison (source: “Monk and Villagers Arrested, Detained and Tortured; Villagers Forced to Rally against Shan Resistance, in Lai-Kha,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, June 2005). Throughout the year, the junta organized other mass rallies, primarily through their puppet organization, the USDA.

 Go to Top

12.7 Restrictions on Political Parties

 

In 1988, political parties were allowed to form for the first time in decades. Over 200 parties formed. Burma held its first free and fair elections in 1990 where the NLD won an overwhelming majority of support. The junta however refused to honor the election results. Following the election, the junta initiated a widespread campaign to suppress their opponents, which continued up to and throughout 2005. Many of the elected-MPs have been imprisoned by the junta, 13 of which remain behind bars as of December 2005. Using the 1908 (1957) Unlawful Associations Act, the junta also began outlawing political parties. Notably, the first parties to be de-registered were those that represented ethnic groups, and those that had collectively called for a federal constitution in their party manifestos. Some ethnic parties that were initially de-registered were re-registered after they signed ceasefire agreements with the regime. In 2005, only ten political parties were legally recognized by the junta, including the NLD. Even with legal recognition, however, political activities are greatly circumscribed by the junta and the members and leaders of political opposition parties are subject to harassment, intimidation and arrest.

 

In 2005 the junta heightened their targeting of political opposition groups in the hopes of stifling political activities, particularly in light of the ongoing, highly undemocratic NC proceedings. The regime employed various tactics to suppress pro-democracy leaders and members including arrests, arbitrary imprisonment, and heightened surveillance measures. In February 2005, Fu Cin Sian Thang, the Zomi National Congress (ZNC) chairman and a member of the CRPP reported being monitored by the authorities (source: “Shan Ceasefire Group Will Quit NC Unless Leaders Released,” Irrawaddy, 14 February 2005). On 8 February 2005, military officials threatened Aye Tha Aung, Gen. Secretary of the CRPP, with arrest under Order 5/96, which prohibits criticism of the NC and carries a 20 year jail sentence. The authorities also confined his ability to move freely and disabled his telephone line. (Source: “CRPP General Secretary Threatened by SPDC Authorities,” Narinjara News, 11 February 2005). As the junta’s prime opponent, NLD members and leaders were a major focus of SPDC harassment. (For more information see Section 12.15 on Restriction on the Movements and Harassment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD). Other political organizations also were restricted from holding activities and celebrations. On 12 February 2005, the SPDC prohibited the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), a leading coalition of pro-democracy political parties, from holding Union Day events (source: “Arrest of Pro-Democracy Leaders in Burma,” U.S. Department of State, 11 February 2005).

 

Shan political parties were particularly targeted during 2005. Just days before the February 2005 NC sessions were set to resume, the SPDC arrested approximately 30 Shan leaders and activists from 7 to 9 February 2005. The regime accused the group of forming a new organization without permission from the authorities. On 7 February, Shan State Day, the Shan leaders and activists had met in Taunggyi and discussed the formation of the Shan State Joint Action Committee. Although a number of those arrested were later released, at least ten prominent Shan politicians remained under SPDC custody throughout the year, including Hkun Htun Oo and Gen. Hso Ten, Chairmen of the SNLD and SSPC respectively (source: “Ten Shan Activists Arrested in Myanmar for Conspiracy: Minister,” AFP, 10 March 2005). Despite widespread outrage throughout the ethnic groups and the international community over the arrests and continued detention of the Shan leaders, on 3 November 2005 the regime handed unduly long prison sentences to the Shan leaders (source: “Shan Leaders Sentenced in Rangoon Insein Jail,” DVB, 4 November 2005).

 Go to Top

12.8 Other Social Organizations in Burma

 

“No one may be compelled to belong to an association.” -Article 20, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

Very few social organizations exist in Burma. Social organizations that do exist must be approved by the regime according to the 1908 (1957) Unlawful Associations Act. The local authorities in Thanbyuzayat Township refused to grant the Mon Literature and Culture Committee (MLCC) permission to register as an official organization on 4 May 2005. The MLCC is the largest social organization in the Mon community and is focused on promoting Mon literature and culture. It has committees on the state, township, and village tract level which are usually led by Mon Buddhist monks and community leaders. The only MLCC permitted to register as an organization in 2005 was the one based in Rangoon (source: “Authorities Denied Registration to Mon Community Organization,” The Mon Forum, HURFOM, 9 September 2005). The regime also banned a youth organization in Chin State following a skirmish between the police and the Chin National Army (CNA) that left one policeman dead and two injured. Col. San Aung, commander of Matupi Tactical II, retaliated by banning the Lung Ngo Youth Organization in Razua Township despite the lack of connection. The Youth Organization was created in 1999 to advocate against the sale of alcohol, aid those in need, and provide village protection and security services (source: “The SPDC Defunct Youth Organization In Chin State,” Khonumthung, 21 June 2005).

 

Even with approval, however, the regime strictly controls the mandate and activities of social groups. In March and April 2005, Mon community associations organized a ‘Mon Literacy Campaign’ to encourage the learning of the Mon language. The SPDC has banned the teaching of the Mon language in public schools since 1962. In February 2005, the USDA in Kyaikmayaw Township reiterated that the teaching of the Mon language was not aligned with national development and reconciliation (source: USDA: The Organization Strengthening the Military Rule in Burma (Myanmar), HURFOM, April 2005). To diminish the impact of the “Mon Literacy Campaign’, the USDA held mandatory military trainings for their members at the same time. Because many Mon villagers have been forced to join the USDA, villagers who would normally attend the literacy workshops were not able to do so (source: In-depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005). 

 

While people in Burma are prohibited from associating with unapproved organizations most of the population is pressured to join organizations specifically formed by the junta to create the appearance of having a well-functioning civil society. Regime sponsored organizations include: The USDA, The Myanmar Medical Association (MMA), Myanmar Red Cross (MRC), Myanmar Anti-Narcotic Association (MANA), Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association (MMCWA), Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs Association (MWEA), Auxiliary Fire Brigade, Parent Teacher Associations, and the Myanmar Nurses Association (MNA).

 

These groups are organized on the township level and are largely under the control of the regime. Regime-affiliates or USDA members often occupy top-level positions. Most of the members involved in these organizations have been pressured into joining. Members are expected to participate in regime or USDA sponsored rallies, which usually target opposition and pro-democracy groups as well as international agencies critical of the regime. During the year, the junta held a series of public rallies to denounce “internal and external destructionists,” condemn international NGO groups such as the ILO and lend support to the regime’s agenda, which were attended by military-sponsored groups and other junta-controlled organizations (source: “Myanmar Tightens Screws after Abandoning ASEAN Chair: Analysts,” AFP, 15 August 2005). Given the stricture and domination over authorized social organizations in Burma, the political agenda of the regime often takes precedence over the actual social issues they purport to address.

 

In 2005, the regime also formed the ‘People’s Strength Organization’ (PSO) whose main objective is to support stronger administrative systems and provide additional strength in times of an emergency. The PSO is essentially a paramilitary force that is training for the eventuality of a pro-democracy uprising or a foreign invasion. It is composed of its main supporters from the USDA, civil servants and police officers. The PSO is structurally similar to the military formations with the same leadership hierarchy. Township PSO battalions are required to engage in monthly trainings, which include how to suppress mass demonstrations using the strength of the organization. Members are also trained to document information and take photographs during their operations, particularly of the leaders of demonstrations. (Source: In-depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005).

 

While there were no independent women’s organizations in Burma, during 2005 women were forced to join the junta-controlled Myanmar Women Affairs Federation (MWAF). On 9 August 2005, Col. San Aung of the Army Tactical II based in Matupi Township, Chin State ordered all members of the Matupi Village Council to distribute MWAF application forms. Every woman over the age of 18 was ordered to enroll in the organization and pay the 320 kyat membership fee. Similar orders were given in Chin State. The MWAF was formed on 3 July 1996 and is currently headed by Than Than Nwe, the wife of Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Soe Win. Military wives similarly occupy the other top positions in the organization. As of the latter part of 2005, the MWAF reported a membership of approximately 1.5 million women. (Source: “Chin Women Compel to Join MWAF by Junta,” Rhododendron News, CHRO, 27 September 2005).

 

Some local religious and church-backed organizations were able to operate limited social programs during the year. The SPDC however confines them to religious activities. They are not allowed to register as NGOs in Burma and are instead registered under the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs. Without NGO status, these groups are limited in their ability to access overseas funding and conduct in-country training with foreign experts. Participants, meanwhile, are kept under constant surveillance by the SPDC authorities and SPDC informers.

 Go to Top

12.9 The Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA)

 

The USDA was formed by the regime on 15 September 1993 in order to feign civil society support for the activities and policies of the junta. Their official mandate is to maintain the union, national solidarity, sovereignty, promote national pride, and support the emergence of a prosperous and peaceful nation. In reality, the USDA is fully controlled by the junta and its members are forced to bolster the regime’s agenda (source: In-depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005). The USDA receives financial, technical, and leadership support from the regime. USDA Executive Committees exist in every level of administration, including on the township and village level. The sub-level USDA authorities are guided by the USDA Central Executive Committee, which

is made up of generals and veteran military commanders (source: USDA: The Organization Strengthening the Military Rule in Burma (Myanmar), HURFOM, April 2005).

 

As of November 2005, the total membership of the USDA according to the regime was estimated to be at about 22.8 million, comprising almost half of Burma’s total population (source: The Game Plan of Nazi Generals in Burma, NDD, 9 December 2005). Despite claims that membership is voluntary, most members were either required or coerced to enroll and attend meetings. During 2005, the SPDC increased efforts to forcibly recruit new members into the USDA. In Mon State, the authorities ordered schools to enroll students as USDA members. In Chaung-zone Township, Mon State, the entire township has been forced to become members of the USDA. The local authorities in Mon State have also surveyed the organizational affiliation of villagers. Those who are not members of any organization have been pressured into registering with the USDA. Members of political and social organizations, meanwhile, have been intimidated into withdrawing their membership and enrolling with the USDA. Those who refuse to resign from their organizations have faced harassment by the SPDC. For example, in July 2005, Nai Sein Aye, the Chairman of the MLCC in Thanbyuzayat Township, was arrested and detained for a month after refusing to resign from the MLCC. (Source: In-depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005).

 

In return for perpetuating the facade of grassroots support for the regime, the SPDC bestows power and privileges to USDA members, such as appointments to local authority posts and the ability to travel freely throughout the country (source: Burma Briefing: Issues and Concerns Vol. 1, Altsean, November 2004; “USDA Plans for Upcoming Election,” Kaowao News, 21 April 2005). Unlike most civilians, USDA Central Executive Committee members are able to contact directly the Minister of Foreign Affairs to obtain a passport and permission to travel abroad. In Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, the local USDA told villagers that if they joined, they would be exempt from forced labor practices as well as many types of taxes. Many villagers join to receive such benefits while others join out of fear and intimidation (source: USDA: The Organization Strengthening the Military Rule in Burma (Myanmar), HURFOM, April 2005). In addition, USDA local leaders compete to recruit more members in the hopes they will be rewarded with promotions (source: In-depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005).

 

Since the regime announced the seven-step “roadmap to democracy” on 30 August 2003, the USDA has been particularly active in criticizing opposition groups, monitoring their activities, and organizing rallies against anti-junta elements. All levels of the USDA have been instructed to organize against the NLD and ethnic political parties (source: USDA: The Organization Strengthening the Military Rule in Burma (Myanmar), HURFOM, April 2005). As the main political opponent to the regime and the winner of 81 percent of the vote during the 1990 elections, the NLD has been the primary focus of USDA intimidation and harassment.

 

The USDA has been attributed with responsibility for the 30 May 2003 Depayin Massacre during which Aung San Suu Kyi, her entourage and her supporters were violently attacked. More recently, the USDA has been actively involved in organizing demonstrations demanding the abolishment of the NLD and calling for the resignation of NLD members. After the NLD suspended 18 members from their duties effectively expelling them from the party on 16 February 2005, the USDA was quick to take advantage of the situation by organizing mass public rallies to denounce and discredit the party. (Sources: “NLD Expels 18 Members,” Irrawaddy, 18 February 2005; “Burma Junta Prepares to Renew Attacks on NLD,” DVB, 21 March 2005; “Burma Junta Tempting NLD Members to Quit Party,” DVB, 31 March 2005).

 

Following the Depayin Massacre, the SPDC began to militarily prepare USDA members for conflict situations. USDA members have been required to attend military training to learn how to suppress mass protests or defend against foreign aggressors. The regime has also been relying more heavily on the USDA to monitor and gather information. During the year, the USDA formed an intelligence team of higher-ranking USDA members for each township led by Brig Gen. Myint Swe (source: USDA: The Organization Strengthening the Military Rule in Burma (Myanmar), HURFOM, April 2005). The intelligence unit has been charged with monitoring and informing the SPDC of suspicious events, the activities of opposition and armed resistance groups, compliance of USDA members with the mandate of the organization, and the movement of foreigners within the country (source: In-depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005).

 

While the USDA has been operating under the pretense of being part of civil society for the last 12 years, the regime has increasingly pushed the USDA towards playing a more active role in Burma’s political sphere. On 6 December 2005, Gen. Secretary of the USDA, Brig Gen. U Htay Oo announced that the USDA would be reconstituted as a political party (source: The Game Plan of Nazi Generals in Burma, NDD, 9 December 2005). The SPDC has also instructed local USDA leaders to begin selecting candidates to run in a future national election in order to compete for the 75 percent non-military-reserved seats (source: In-depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005).

 

Moreover, since the initiation of the highly unrepresentative NC, the regime has used the USDA as a tool to demonstrate support for the junta-controlled proceedings. During the 2005 sessions, USDA members constituted a majority of the delegates in attendance (source: “Burma Junta Invites Delegates to Attend Convention,” DVB, 5 February 2005). The SPDC also organized forced rallies to feign support for both 2005 sessions of the NC. In February and March 2005 villagers from Kaeng-Tung Township were ordered to attend mass meetings in Rangoon under threats of a 1,000 kyat penalty. Members of the junta-sponsored USDA and the Women’s Affairs Organization also led a 7 1/2 hour long rally in support of the NC without providing the participants with food or water (source: “People Forced to Attend Mass Demonstration in Kaeng-Tung to Support the “National Convention” Held in Rangoon (Yangon),” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, May 2005).

 

Concurrent to its domestic activities, the USDA has been gaining increased international recognition. Visiting UN representatives and foreign diplomats also increasingly arrange meetings with the USDA in addition to meeting with the SPDC. (Source: The Game Plan of Nazi Generals in Burma, NDD, 9 December 2005).

 Go to Top

12.10 Prohibition of Free and Independent Trade Unions

 

“Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. -Article 23, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

Under the 1926 Trade Unions Act workers may form trade unions with the authorization of the SPDC. In addition, Burma ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention 1948 (No. 87) in 1955. As a member of the ILO, the junta is also bound to the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which includes the freedom of association and collective bargaining (source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). In practice, however, the regime has banned the organization of independent trade unions and harasses workers who attempt to organize. Striking is also prohibited by the regime (source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005).

 

Due to the ban on unions, there were no internationally affiliated unions in Burma in 2005. Furthermore, the regime prohibited individuals from having any contact with the exiled FTUB and the International Transport Workers’ Federation. The exiled FTUB was criminalized by the regime as a “terrorist group” and individuals who were discovered to have had contact with the FTUB were subject to arrest and imprisonment. Individuals also risked arrest and imprisonment for having contact with the ILO. (Source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005).

 Go to Top

12.11 The National Convention (NC): Increased Control over Movement, Assembly and Association

 

As in the past, the 2005 NC proceedings took place under heavily restrictive conditions as the junta attempted to dominate every aspect of the process. The NC sessions resumed on 17 February to 30 March 2005 and again on 5 December 2005 after the 2004 sessions adjourned on 9 July. Some 1,072 delegates reconvened to “participate” in the preliminary proceedings to developing a national constitution. After refusing to attend the May to July 2004 sessions, the 44 delegates from the NLD, the SNLD and the Shan State Kokang Democratic Party (SSKDP) were excluded from the list of invitees in 2005 (source: “Myanmar NC to Approve Power Sharing Principles,” Xinhua, 1 February 2005). Following the arrest and detention of several Shan leaders and activists in February, the SSA-N and SSNA also announced that they would boycott the February sessions (sources: “Shan Ceasefire Group Will Quit NC Unless Leaders Released,” Irrawaddy, 14 February 2005; “Rangoon, Shans: No More Mr Nice Guys,” SHAN, 15 February 2005). After considerable deliberation, the SSA-N, however, resumed their attendance during the December proceedings (source: “Shut up: Shan Group Told Not to Complain About Imprisonment of Leaders,” DVB, 22 November 2005). Concurrently, major political leaders, including several elected MPs, remained in prison as the NC continued in 2005. Ceasefire NC delegates in Shan and Mon State also reported being monitored by the SPDC Special Bureau in mid-September (source: “Ceasefire Groups to Complete Constitutional Convention,” SHAN, 20 September 2005). Furthermore, a majority of the delegates who attended the 2005 NC were members of the junta-sponsored USDA (source: “Burma Junta Invites Delegates to Attend Convention,” DVB, 5 February 2005). Despite this, the junta continued to claim that the 2005 NC was a representative process (source: “Will the National Convention Legitimise the Junta?” Irrawaddy, 2 December 2005).  

 

In keeping with the 2004 NC, the delegates to the 2005 sessions were again confined to the lavish accommodations of the a specially constructed camp near the village of Nyaung Hna Pin, 45 km north of Rangoon (source: “Burma Junta Invites Delegates to Attend Convention,” DVB, 5 February 2005). Masked by every conceivable luxury, including top-rate medical facilities, a golf course, theater, massage parlors, and karaoke bar, the compound surrounded by military bases was designed as much to imprison as to pamper the delegates. Although delegates were allowed off the premises more often than in previous years, they were not allowed to travel beyond Rangoon (source: “Myanmar's Constitutional Talks Break for Weekend,” AFP, 26 February 2005). The junta however continued to strictly control access to the outside world. The SPDC instituted a curfew, banned delegates from leaving the compound and prohibited open communication with outsiders including reporters (sources: “Myanmar Resumes Constitution Talks Amid Sharp Criticism,” AFP, 17 February 2005; “Will the National Convention Legitimise the Junta?” Mizzima, 2 December 2005). Such extreme measures led the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma Paulo Sergio Pinheiro to liken the NC to “mass house arrest,” (source: “Myanmar to Reopen Charter Talks, Critics Skeptical,” Reuters, 15 February 2005).

 

While there were some improvements in media access during the 2005 NC, these improvements were slight and highly circumscribed by the junta. Whereas all foreign journalists were systematically refused visas during previous NC sessions, the junta extended invitations to both domestic and international media correspondents to cover the 2005 convention (source: “Media Invited; NC Slammed,” Irrawaddy, 16 February 2005). Journalists with a focus on Burma issues however continued to be denied visas. (Source: “Burma Restricts Convention Reporting by Foreign Journalists,” DVB, 18 February 2005).

 Go to Top

12.12 Restrictions Subsequent to the 7 May 2005 Rangoon Bombings

 

A series of bombings in Rangoon on 7 May 2005 caused the regime to implement further movement restrictions under the justification of security measures. Bomb explosions that occurred within minutes of each other in various areas of Rangoon left at least 20 dead and 162 injured according to the regime’s figures (source: “Bomb Explosions Occur in Yangon Due to Inhumane Acts Committed by Terrorists Bomb Blasts at Crowded Sites Left Innocent People Dead, Injured,” NLM, 7 May 2005). The junta blamed the bombings on “destructive elements within and without, with the intention of encroaching upon the sovereignty of the Union,” (source: “Myanmar Urges Vigilance as Post-bomb Rumours Swirl,” Reuters, 10 May 2005). Specifically, without any evidence, the junta named the NCGUB, the Federation of Trade Unions - Burma (FTUB), the ABSDF and the SSA-S. The junta later expanded their list to include the United States and the CIA. The regime then declared these groups and affiliates of these groups to be illegal (sources: “Myanmar (Burma) Declares Four Anti-Govt Organizations as Unlawful Associations,” Xinhua, 29 August 2005; “Dissidents and Activists Suffer after Bomb Blasts,” Irrawaddy, 2 June 2005). Meanwhile leaders of the groups accused by the regime have denied responsibility (source: “Myanmar Urges Vigilance as Post-bomb Rumours Swirl,” Reuters, 10 May 2005).

 

A widespread crackdown on political leaders and activists followed the bomb blasts.  More than 600 of the regime’s political opponents were detained. At least two reportedly died during interrogations (source: “Dark Days Amid Relentless Junta Crackdown,” BP, 8 June 2005). Family members of exiled activists and dissidents were also targeted, including the family of Aung Din, the policy director and co-founder of U.S. Campaign for Burma. The junta reportedly detained Aung Din’s mother, sister, and brother following the bombings. They were released after a few days of interrogation. (Source: “Dissidents and Activists Suffer after Bomb Blasts,” Irrawaddy, 2 June 2005).

 

In the days and weeks after the explosions, under the justification of security concerns, the junta imposed restrictive measures against movement in and around Rangoon. On 9 May 2005, the regime declared a state of emergency throughout Burma. The authorities also blocked roads and cleared people from the area of Aung San Stadium in Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township after a suspicious object was found in a phone booth (source: “Bomb Scare at Sports Stadium Increases Fear in Rangoon,” Irrawaddy, 10 May 2005). In the days that followed, the regime established roadblocks every 30 km. on all roads leading into Rangoon. All buses and passengers entering and leaving the capital were subject to multiple searches (source: “Dark Days Amid Relentless Junta Crackdown,” BP, 8 June 2005). Frequent searches and checkpoints largely impeded the traffic movement (source: “Security Lockdown Strains Yangon with Searches, Road Blocks, Army Patols,” AFP, 12 June 2005). The SPDC also heightened security measures along gas pipelines, major bridges and roads in Mon and Karen States as well as in Tenasserim Division. The military troops also increased patrolling operations and imposed more travel restrictions for villagers traveling beyond their villages (source: Commentary- Security and Movement Restriction by SPDC, HURFOM, November 2005). Meanwhile, travel into Rangoon substantially decreased as people feared the tense climate. Some Rangoon residents and students went to stay with relatives living outside the city (source: “Security Tightened in Rangoon after Blasts,” DVB, 10 May 2005). Following the bombings, it was reported that more people were seeking entry to Thailand, particularly residents from Rangoon, Pegu, Moulmein, Yay, Mergui (Beik) and Tavoy. To stem the tide of migrants, Thailand increased the cost of border passes to 1,500-2,000 baht following the bombings (source: “More Burmese Migrants Flood into Thailand Despite Arrests,” DVB, 2 June 2005).

 

As a result of fear, many Rangoon residents refused to leave the security of their homes and many avoided public places immediately following the bombing. The junta also cancelled several crowd-drawing events including two concerts by the popular band Emperor scheduled to perform in Rangoon (sources: “Bomb Scare at Sports Stadium Increases Fear in Rangoon,” Irrawaddy, 10 May 2005; “Myanmar Urges Vigilance as Post-bomb Rumours Swirl,” Reuters, 10 May 2005). The junta installed metal detectors in shopping malls and hotels (source: “Dark Days amid Relentless Junta Crackdown,” BP, 8 June 2005). The authorities also restricted people in cinema halls from leaving before the performance was over. Employees were required to don identity tags in several workplaces, including supermarkets. The junta also began conducting round-the-clock searches of private homes in Rangoon. Residents were required to sign documents pledging not to harbor terrorists. Meanwhile the authorities levied fines and prison time to punish those who failed to report overnight guests (source: “Security Lockdown Strains Yangon with Searches, Road Blocks, Army Patrols,” AFP, 12 June 2005). While most of the roadblocks and checkpoints were removed by mid-June, residents continued to be subject to searches before entering shopping centers and public areas (source: “Security Checks Decrease in Rangoon,” DVB, 12 June 2005).

 

Heightened restrictions on movement spilled into other regions of the country as well. All border trade with China was suspended (source: “State of Emergency Ordered,” SHAN, 10 May 2005). In Mandalay, the local authorities instituted a strict 10 p.m. curfew on all businesses. Businesses that continued to operate past the curfew risked confiscation of their goods by the local authorities (source: “Curfew Imposed on Businesses in Mandalay,” Irrawaddy, 4 August 2005). In Tachilek, Shan State, a 10 p.m. curfew was also established (source: “State of Emergency Ordered,” SHAN, 10 May 2005). All the markets in Tachilek were also ordered to close and foreigners were forced to leave the town. All vehicles entering and exiting the area were subject to thorough searches by the military. The junta also stepped up security in Myawaddy, Karen State and began searching everyone crossing the Thai-Burma border on 10 May 2005 (source: “Shops and Markets Close as Tension Rises in Tachilek,” Irrawaddy, 10 May 2005). In Sittwe, Arakan State, the military heightened their presence and monitoring of public areas, including town entrances, marketplaces, bus stations, and official buildings (source: Increased Security Measures in Arakan After Rangoon Bomb Blast,” Narinjara News, 8 May 2005). In the weeks that followed the bombings, the junta arrested more than 500 Muslims, primarily from Arakan State. In June it was reported that every passenger on board a flight from Kawthaung to Rangoon was arrested after the junta suspected that a bomb had been carried aboard (source: “Dark Days amid Relentless Junta Crackdown,” BP, 8 June 2005). Soldiers at Kawthaung also continued to conduct security checks on all travelers going between Burma and Thailand in June (source: “Security Tightened at Burmese Border Towns Close to Thailand,” DVB, 11 May 2005).

Go to Top

12.13 Restrictions on Villagers in Border Conflict Areas

 

“Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” -Article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

The SPDC military sharply restricted the movement of villagers in border and ethnic resistance areas throughout 2005. The movement of villagers has been fully controlled by the junta through a series of unwieldy policies implemented by troops stationed in the ethnic areas. SPDC-imposed restrictions have included establishing stringent curfews, erecting an extensive array of checkpoints, and confining villagers to their respective villages.

 

In 2005, villagers were frequently required to obtain travel permits or “letters of recommendation” to travel outside their villages. The cost of these permits varied and they often remained valid only for an 18-hour period. Generally, villagers were required to return before 6:00 pm and were not allowed to remain outside the village overnight. In a report released on 8 September 2005, Amnesty International expressed particular concern over junta-imposed restrictions of movement in Ye Township, Mon State, and in Shan State. (Source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005).

 

Other villagers were altogether banned from traveling outside their village, even to engage in trade with a neighboring village or to tend to their farmland. Beginning in early July and continuing throughout the year, the SPDC blockaded villages in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District in Karen State detrimentally impacting 69 villages and almost 10,000 villagers. The regime’s closure of the Toungoo-Bawgali motorway further affected another 46 villages located along the Thautyaykhurt stream in Toungoo District causing severe hardships for about 3,000 Karen villagers living in this area. The SPDC also intensified travel restrictions in Nyaunglebin District, Karen State on 1 October 2005, essentially restricting all forms of travel in the area. (Sources: Taungoo Blockade!!!, KIC, September 2005; “KNU Says Junta Carries Out All Cuts Policy to Karen Areas,” BBC Burmese Service, 2 October 2005).

 

To monitor the movement of villagers and ensure compliance with the restrictive travel policies, the SPDC has established a series of checkpoints on roads in the border areas. Between Toungoo to Kler Law in Karen State, in addition to four regular checkpoints at Four-Mile, Than Daung Myothit (13-Mile), Pa Leh Wah, and Maw Pa Der (20-Mile), the SPDC has erected checkpoints at every 20 mile interval. At each checkpoint, travelers are required to present travel permits and furnish bribes to the officials. (Source: ‘Peace’, or Control? The SPDC’s Use of the Karen Ceasefire to Expand Its Control and Repression of Villagers in Toungoo District, Northern Karen State, KHRG, 22 March 2005).

 

The SPDC has also instituted rigorous and frequent household registration checks. The checks include documenting new births, deaths, absent family members, and previously unregistered family members. Those absent from the household for more than 21 days are struck from the record. A fee or fine accompanies all amendments to the household records. In 2005, under the justification of security concerns, the SPDC has increased the frequency of the forced household censuses in certain areas, particularly in Muslim dominated areas. (Source: “Stringent Checks on Family Records in North Arakan State,” Narinjara News, 2 September 2005).

 

The SPDC has justified travel restrictions in the ethnic areas for decades as part of a strategy to limit villagers’ support of and communication with the armed resistance and opposition groups operating outside the villages. Villagers who failed to comply with the SPDC’s policies have been accused of supporting or having contact with ethnic resistance forces, which has led to arrests, torture and executions. Meanwhile, members of various armed ethnic groups also reported increased monitoring of their movements and SPDC-imposed travel restrictions in 2005. (Source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005).

 

The inability of villagers to move freely has further jeopardized their access to other basic human rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living and health care (source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). Particularly in areas where all forms of travel has been completely cut-off by the junta, villagers unable to access their own farms, neighboring villages or other food sources have struggled with starvation (sources: Taungoo Blockade!!!, KIC, September 2005; “KNU Says Junta Carries Out All Cuts Policy to Karen Areas,” BBC Burmese Service, 2 October 2005).

 

Restriction of Movement of Villagers in Conflict Areas - Partial List of Incidents for 2005

 

Beginning in January 2005, SPDC troops prohibited villagers in Htee Ghu Thaw (Tee Po Than) village, Kru Tu (Kyone Doh) Township, Dooplaya District, Karen State from remaining overnight on their plantations despite the considerable distance of the plantations from the village. (Source: Continued Militarisation, Killings and Fear in Dooplaya District, KHRG, 2 June 2005).  

 

It was reported on 3 January 2005, SPDC LIB 273 prohibited villagers located in the area of the Total gas station in Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division from traveling outside their villages. Those who left the villages, meanwhile, were not allowed to return, despite having travel authorization. (Source: “France’s Oil Giant Total and Human Rights,” Kaowao News, 3 January 2005).

 

On 15 January 2005, it was reported that villagers from Tunzang and Tiddim Townships, Chin State were confined to army bases after being forced by soldiers from SPDC LIB 269 to transport supplies and building materials to army outposts located 30 miles from their villages. (Source: “Burma Army Uses Forced Labour at Chin State,” DVB, 15 January 2005).

 

Since April 2005, SPDC IB 248 required villagers of Loi La village, Nam-Zarng Township, Shan State to purchase passes each time they travel outside their village tract. Each pass costs 1,500 kyat. (Source: “Forced Labour, Restrictions and Extortion in Nam-Zarng,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, August 2005).

 

In early May 2005, the SPDC established a curfew in Sittwe, Arakan State following the murder of a military official and his father on 17 April 2005. The authorities began patrolling the streets and arresting anyone out past 8:00 pm. (Source: “Curfew Placed on Akyab,” Narinjara News, 5 May 2005).

 

On 8 May 2005, SPDC LIB 66 ordered village heads from Hu Mu Doe and Kheh Doe in Toungoo District, Karen State to restrict villagers from leaving their farm huts. Villagers were also banned from traveling outside the village to collect vegetables. (Source: KIC, 2005).

 

On 25 May 2005, villagers of Wal Township, Thaton District, Mon State were ordered to destroy their paddy field huts and confined to their villages. (Source: KIC, 2005).

 

On 25 May 2005, SPDC troops from Command 2 under the Southern Command banned villagers from Noekhohtee and Hteeywabaw in Mone Township, Nyaunglebin District, Karen State from leaving their villages. (Source: KIC, 2005).

 

From 24 to 31 May 2005, the authorities began scrutinizing certain travelers going between Namkham and Muse in Shan State under the justification of security precautions.  Cars carrying goods had to provide a 1,000 kyat fee and drivers were required to present their National Identity Card. ID cards were never required for travel between Namkham and Muse in the past. Meanwhile motorbikes were exempt from the heightened scrutiny. (Source: “Bombing in May Trouble the Border,” PYNG, 2005).

 

In late May 2005, the SPDC issued orders restricting villagers in central Shan State from traveling to remote farms or forests. (Source: “More Restrictions and Extortion, and Forced Relocation, in Central Shan State,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, August 2005).

 

Beginning on 4 June 2005, the SPDC LIB 349 and IB 26 troops banned villagers in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State from traveling on roads after 6:00 pm. Villagers also could not remain on their farms or plantations overnight. (Source: KIC, 2005)

 

As of 7 June 2005, Column-2 Comdr. Khaing Ngwe of SPDC LIB 104 began requiring villagers of Atetnaungkatoe, Autnaungkatoe and Tarwehwa in Thaton Township, Mon State to acquire travel passes to go to their fields. The passes cost 50 kyat. (Source: KIC, 2005).

 

On 10 June 2005, the SPDC IB 75 ordered villagers of Mya Swa Chaung, On Bin Chaung and La Mine Chaung in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State to acquire travel passes during ongoing military operations. (Source: KIC, 2005).

 

On 30 June 2005, troops of DKBA 999 led by Comdr. Poe Law Eh required villagers from Kyaikhto Township, Thaton District, Mon State to purchase temporary visas to gain access to their farms and fields. The visas were good for one day and cost 500 kyat. (Source: BI, 2005).

 

In July 2005, SPDC tactical Comdr. Kin Maung Oo banned all trucks from traveling in Taw Oo, Kler La and Kaw Thay Der, Toungoo District, Karen State. (Source: Human Rights Violation Update: Northern and Western Karen State, FBR, July 2005).

 

On 6 July 2005, it was reported that that Bureau of Special Investigation (BSI) agents arrested villagers from Arakan State while they were traveling to visit relatives in nearby villages. Without any evidentiary support, they were accused of returning from a foreign country. They were required to pay 50,000 to 100,000 kyat in bribes to gain their release. (Source: “Substitute of BSI in the Place of MIS,” Kaladan News, 6 July 2005).

 

Following a 7 July 2005 raid that resulted in the arrest of approximately 50 villagers, troops from SPDC IB 93 surrounded Tagu village, Einme Township in Irrawaddy Division. Tagu village along with several other villages in the area remained surrounded throughout mid-August, restricting villagers from entering or exiting the area. (Source: “More Karen Villagers Detained in Delta Burma,” DVB, 12 August 2005).

 

On 7 July 2005, SPDC Tactical Operations Command 3 closed off roads that functioned as a rice supply route in Toungoo District, Karen State. (Source: Taungoo Blockade!!!, KIC, September 2005).

 

From 20 July to 23 August 2005, all automobiles were banned from traveling inside Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State. On 20 July 2005, truck drivers from certain villages were banned from using their trucks for trading. These villages included:  

1.      Kler La, Kaw Thay Doe;
2.      Klaysoe Khee, Kaw Soe Kho;
3.      Wah Tho Kho, Ler Ko; and 
4.      Peh Kaw Doe villages.

Orders were given on 22 July 2005 to restrict all trading and transport near Pa Let Wa motorway. All traffic on Toungoo-Baw Ga Li Gyi motorway, including bicycles and trishaws, were similarly banned from 1 to 8 August 2005 and remained closed into October. (Source: Taungoo Blockade!!!, KIC, September 2005; KIC, 3 October 2005).

 

In August 2005 it was reported that in Kaeng Tawng, Murng-Nai Township, Shan State the SPDC required farmers to obtain permission to gain access to their farms. Farmers had to pay 500 kyat for a 2-3 day pass. Farmers located on remote farms were required to pay the SPDC an additional 500 kyat to be transported on mini-tractors to the nearest SPDC office where they obtained the passes. (Source: “More Restrictions and Extortion, and Forced Relocation, in Central Shan State,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, August 2005).

 

From 1 to 8 August 2005, residents in and around Thandaung village, Toungoo District, Karen State were prohibited from remaining on their plantations and farms (source: Taungoo Blockade!!!, KIC, September 2005). Comdr. Ko Ko of the Southern Command and Operation 1 Comdr. Khin Maung Oo also blocked all traffic on Toungoo-Bawgaligyi highway, including bicycles and trishaws (source: KIC, 12 October 2005).

 

On 18 August 2005, it was reported that local authorities in Sittwe, Arakan State prohibited villagers from leaving their houses after 10:00 pm under threats of arrests. (Source: “Going Outside Prohibited After 10 p.m.,” Narinjara News, 18 August 2005).

 

On 16 August and 22 August 2005, the authorities began frequent household record checks in Buthidaung and Maungdaw Townships in Arakan State, respectively. Residents reported that the checks were conducted more rigorously than in the past. (Source: “Stringent Checks on Family Records in North Arakan State,” Narinjara News, 2 September 2005).

 

There continued to be reports on 26 August 2005 that Ye Township, Mon State residents were required to purchase permits to be able to work on their farms. (Source: “Villagers’ Farm Work Restricted in Ye Township,” IMNA, 26 August 2005).

 

In September 2005, authorities in Mon State set up several checkpoints along major roads and bridges. All passengers were subjected to searches and scrutiny over the reason for their travels. The authorities also began collecting higher fees at checkpoints without justification. Each checkpoint station required a 1,000 kyat fee. (Source: “More Restriction to the Civilians’ Movement,” The Mon Forum, HURFOM, August 2005).

 

In September 2005, the SPDC military closed 3 main roads in Toungoo District in an attempt to block all rice supplies to IDPs and assistance from the villagers to the KNU/KNLA in that area. The affected roads were:

    1.    The Toungoo-Kler La to Mawchi road;

    2.    The Tantabin to Mon road; and

    3.    The New Thandaung to Old Thandaung road.

Civilian villagers reported a loss of revenue as they could not transport their primary crops of durians, dog fruit and mangosteen. Rice also could not be brought out from the plains of Toungoo and this was a serious problem as many IDPs rely on the purchase of rice from the Toungoo area. The road blockade was a deliberate attempt to starve the IDPs in the mountains north and west of Toungoo. It was also an attempt to put pressure on the KNU. (Source: “Burma Army Attacks IDPs and KNLA in Western Karen State, Closes Roads in the North. 18-21 Sept 2005,” FBR, 25 September 2005).

 

Beginning on 1 September 2005, all travel, communication and farming activities were completely prohibited in Toungoo District, Karen State. To enforce this policy, troops from SPDC IB 73 Column 2 patrolled fields and farms and posted sentries at road junctions. (Source: KIC, 3 October 2005).

 

Beginning on 2 September 2005, SPDC troops prohibited all travel on Zayatkyi-Toungoo highway in Karen State (source: KIC, 12 October 2005). Meanwhile, trucks carrying rice were restricted from operating on any day other than Sundays. (Source: Taungoo Blockade!!!, KIC, September 2005).

 

On 5 September 2005, the SPDC Southern Command, Comdr. Ko Ko, banned all movement of people and boats along Thaut Ye Khart stream in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State. (Source: KIC, 3 October 2005).

 

On 6 September 2005, Lt Zaw Win Naing and 2nd Lt. Kyaw Thu Ya from the 2nd Column of SPDC IB 28 prohibited villages located along the Karennigon Zayahkyi highway and those east of Shasayla Taunggyi highway up to the foothills from traveling to Za Yat Kyi village in Karen State. (Source: KIC, 3 October 2005).

 

Beginning on 6 September 2005, students traveling to schools in Nat Ywa, Zayatkyi and Tantabin Township, Toungoo District in Karen State were required to show “letters of recommendation.” (Source: KIC, 3 October 2005).

 

Beginning on 7 September 2005, villagers in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State were prohibited from traveling on the highway. (Source: BI, 2005).

 

On 7 September 2005, some villagers of Tie Ta Bie were forbidden from leaving the village and the military authorities prohibited all travel by boat. (Source: BI, 2005).

 

It was reported on 8 September 2005 that villagers from Puan Pang village tract, Kunhing Township, Shan State were allowed to be outside their houses only from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm hindering their ability to access their farms and fields. (Source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005).

 

On 9 September 2005, villagers from Yin Sha village, Taungoo Township, Karen State were ordered by Tin Lwin U and Aung Thu Ka of SPDC IB 73 to remain within their village area. (Source: BI, 2005).

 

On 10 September 2005, villagers from Thaunthonlon, Hayda, and Kyaukmetaw in Mergui-Tavoy District, Tenasserim Division who were fleeing to Thailand to escape SPDC abuses, such as forced labor and extortion, were each required to pay 5,000 kyat to column Comdr. Kyaw Win of  SPDC LIB 103 in order to traverse the area under his command. (Source: KIC, 3 October 2005).

 

On 11 September 2005, SPDC IB 48 led by column 2 Comdr. Htun Naing Win, deputy Comdr. Saw Myo Naing and 2nd Lt. Kyaw Thura blockaded routes in Taw Gon and Yay Shurn villages in Toungoo District, Karen State leading to the outlying fields. The troops also destroyed small bridges in and around the villages. The blockades inhibited villagers from tending to their fields and orchards. Other villages subject to a similar blockade by IB 73, LIB 599 and IB 22 included:

1.      Do Sa Chi, 
2.      Dei Yu Chi;
3.      Po Mu Chi, 
4.      Ti Lo;
5.      Ka Se Do (Taunggyi);
6.      Tha Hpan Chaung;
7.      Chaung Ma Gyi;
8.      Yaut Thar Chaung. (Source: KIC, 3 October 2005).

 

On 25 September 2005, troops from SPDC LIB 599, IB 48 and 73 took up posts along the Za Ya Khi road restricting villagers from Sha See Bo, Zee Pwu Gon and Taung Gon villages in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State from engaging in inter-village trading. Troops were similarly posted on Mo Kee road to block movement in the Klar La and Kaw Thin Der area. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

In October 2005, the SPDC banned villagers in Daw Pa Ko Township, Toungoo District, Karen State from traveling outside their villages to buy and sell goods. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

In October 2005, it was reported that SPDC IB 48 troops led by Myo Nieng took position in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State and began blocking villagers from leaving the village to go to their fields to collect food for their livestock. The villagers were required to request permission each day to gain access to their fields and report back upon returning from their fields. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

On the 1 October 2005, troops from SPDC IB 73 erected a military base at Bo Ma Tea village in Toungoo District, Karen State and restricted villagers from leaving the village to engage in trade. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

On the 1 October 2005, Column Comdr. Htun Nai Win, Duty Column Comdr. Zaw Myo Hsai and officer Kyaw Thu Ra from SPDC IB 48 forbade villagers from Zayaikyi and Kereni Gon (Tawtahtu Township) in Taungoo District, Karen State from going to their fields. Villagers from Zayaikyi were also prohibited from going to Nan Ywa village to buy goods. Students studying in Htatabin school had to furnish the SPDC authorities with a fee as well as a “letter of recommendation” from the headmaster. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

It was reported on 12 October 2005 that while Karen villagers in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District in Karen State were denied travel passes to work in their farms and fields located outside their villages, Burman villagers were allowed to work in the vacant farms and fields. (Source: KIC, 12 October 2005).

 

Beginning on 25 October 2005, under threat of death, all travel and communication between villagers living in Mehtintain, Taunggyi, Tawgon, Hsaypalehgon, Tatepu, and Binba in Toungoo District, Karen State was banned pursuant to an order by SPDC IB 48 Column 2 Comdr. Htun Naing Lin. All travel in Bonmatee and Thabyaynyunt was similarly banned (source: KIC, 12 October 2005). The Pya Nyo villagers were also prohibited from leaving their village. Those living at the base of the eastern side of the mountain, meanwhile, were banned from traveling into the village. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

On 31 October 2005, columns of SPDC LIB 599 and LIB 48 required Maytar villagers in Toungoo District, Karen State to purchase travel passes costing 100 kyat for a six day pass to gain access to their farms and fields. (Source: KIC, 12 October 2005).

 

It was reported in November 2005 that villagers in Mon and Karen States as well as in Tenasserim Division were subjected to tighter travel restrictions in light of increased security measures following the 7 May 2005 Rangoon bombings. Villagers were required to keep their ID cards on them at all times and present them at various military checkpoints. To travel beyond their area, villagers had to obtain permission in advance from the SPDC authorities, including to gain access to their farms. Villagers were also required to pay security fees. (Source: “Commentary- Security and Movement Restriction by SPDC,” The Mon Forum, HURFOM, November 2005).

 

In November 2005, the DKBA restricted the communication of villagers in Pa-an District, Karen State. To enforce the order, Comdr. Po Bih and Po Kwe took up positions in the Pa-an area. Comdr. Poe Kyo, Thun Tun and Maung Chit along with 200 soldiers were stationed in Bilin Township in Mon State to block the movement and communication of villagers from Kaw Poe Plae, Shway O and Kaw Tae. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

On 17 November 2005, Comdr. Tun Nay Lin of SPDC IB 48 prohibited villagers from traveling outside K’Ser Doh in Toungoo District in Karen State and threatened them with death. On the same day, a female villager was caught working on a betel nut plantation located outside the village and was fined two viss of hen as a result. (Source: BI, October 2005).

 

Travel and fishing bans resulted in Kyaukphu, Taungup and Man Aung Townships in Arakan State after seven navy personnel deserted their ranks on December 2005. On 27 December 2005, it was reported that troops from SPDC LIB 34, LIB 55 and IB 20 took boats from civilians in order to search for the deserters. (Source: “Desertion by Navy Men Creates Problems for Local People,” Narinjara News, 27 December 2005).

Go to Top

12.14 Restriction on the Movements of Religious Minorities

 

Religious abuses have been increasing in the Christian and Muslim communities in Burma with the goal of “Burmanizing” the population. Buddhism is the military regime’s preferred religion and all other practices are forcibly restricted. The inability to travel freely in Burma has severely impacted religious minorities jeopardizing their ability to gain food security, find employment, and access adequate healthcare.

 

The junta continued to register and monitor registration lists of religious minority communities. In four districts in Arakan State, it was reported on 14 June 2005 that the authorities began surveying the Hindu population. The survey resulted in a list of 5,000 Hindus. While the purpose was unclear, other religious groups were not included in the survey (source: “Burmese Authority Surveys the Hindu Population in Arakan State,” Narinjara News, 14 June 2005). Meanwhile, on 1 June, the NaSaKa began to check lists of registered Muslim family members in Maungdaw Township. The registration check regularly occurs four times a year. Officials levy fines against households for any amendments to the list. Previously Muslim families provided substantial bribes of 1 to 2 million kyat for absent relatives. It was reported that the NaSaKa was no longer accepting bribes causing families to be concerned for relatives working abroad who were not present for the census. (Source: Nasaka Begins Operation to Check Registry of Burmese Muslim Family Members along Border Area,” Narinjara News, 4 June 2005)

 

Rohingya Muslims in northern Arakan State continued to face severe travel restrictions in 2005, which prevented them from moving from village to village, let alone throughout the country. Most Rohingya Muslims are not eligible for a national identity card under the 1982 Citizenship Act, which is necessary for travel within Burma. Under this act, a citizen must be able to prove that they are one of the 135 “national races” or that their ancestors settled in Burma prior to British colonization in 1823. The junta refuses to recognize the Rohingya as one of the 135 “national races” of Burma and most are unable to furnish proof of their ancestral origins. Those without a national identity card must obtain permission from the authorities prior to any domestic travel.

 

Rohingya must procure authorization to travel outside their village (source: Myanmar: Leaving Home, AI, 8 September 2005). To travel to a village within the same township, a Rohingya must apply and pay for a local travel pass at the VPDC. To travel beyond the township limits a Rohingya must obtain a travel permit from the Immigration Department at the NaSaKa camp, otherwise called a "Form 4." During the first week of December 2005, the Immigration police arrested Rohingyas in Sittwe for failing to acquire a Form 4, which is required for foreigners temporarily traveling in the country. Rohingyas have been periodically compelled to hold a Form 4 since 1988 because they are not recognized as citizens of Burma by the regime. Those arrested were sentenced to six months in prison (source: “SPDC Authorities Arrest Rohingyas in Sittwe,” Kaladan News, 2 January 2006).

 

Travel to Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, or Rangoon has been effectively prohibited for the Rohingya since February 2001 following violence between the Muslim and Buddhist population in Sittwe (source: The Rohingya Minority: Fundamental Rights Denied, AI, May 2004). Beginning on 1 October 2005, Muslims living in Sittwe have been banned from traveling outside the Sittwe area (source: The Arakan Project, 9 November 2005). The ban includes restrictions on Rohingya students seeking to travel to Sittwe for higher education (source: “SPDC Authorities Arrest Rohingyas in Sittwe,” Kaladan News, 2 January 2006). As restrictions intensified in Arakan State during the year, students studying at Sittwe University were forced to return home (source: The Arakan Project, 9 November 2005).

 

There were also reports that Rohingya were discriminatorily required to pay bribes at various checkpoints (source: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005). Because about 60 percent of Rohingya are day laborers, most cannot afford the fees and bribes required to obtain permits to travel outside their villages (source: The Rohingya Minority: Fundamental Rights Denied, AI, May 2004). However, following the removal of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt on 19 October 2004 and the subsequent disbanding of the NaSaKa border security force, there were reports that travel fees for Rohingya had decreased. Due to their inability to travel freely, it is incredibly difficult for Muslim Rohingya to secure food sources outside their villages, including from their own remotely located farms. Furthermore, Rohingya have been required to purchase travel permits to collect WFP food rations. Due to this situation, Rohingya in Arakan State are particularly vulnerable to starvation (source: “Junta Restrictions Cause Food Shortages among Rohingyas,” Irrawaddy, 23 September 2005).

 

Travel permits meanwhile are only issued for a specific period of time. Travel passes are now required even for short day trips. Those who overstay their passes have been impeded from returning to their villages and risk being deleted from their family list. If they are deleted from the family list, they must either pay money to the authorities to be re-listed or remain as guests in their own homes. (Source: Conflict, Discrimination, and Humanitarian Challenges in Northern Arakan State, Forum-Asia, 8 October 2003).

 

Despite the disbanding of the NaSaKa on 19 October 2004, the junta maintained a border security force in Arakan State, renaming it the NaPaKa in January 2005. The authorities, meanwhile, imposed a curfew and beginning in January 2005 all the VPDC Chairmen in Maungdaw and Buthidaung Township in Arakan State were ordered by NaKaPa commanders to begin fencing in each village. Although the fences were ostensibly for security reasons despite the virtual absence of potential infiltrators, Rohingya villagers believed they were more likely erected to contain villagers. (Source: Forum-Asia, 26 May 2005).  

 

Partial List of Incidents Involving the Rohingya Minority and Restrictions of Movement in 2005

 

Following religious riots on 20 January 2005 that began in Arakan State when a Muslim youth insulted several Buddhist monks in Kyauk Pru, the authorities cut off the telephone lines in the area and Rangoon sent troops into Arakan State (sources: “Religious Riot in Arakan State,” Narinjara News, 25 January 2005; “Ethnic Groups Condemned Junta’s Brutality against Religion in Burma,” Kaladan News, 25 January 2005). Soldiers of SPDC LIB 34 blockaded three monasteries in Kyauk Pru and arrested five students in an attempt to stem the rioting (source: “Riots Spread Near Kyauk Pru,; Army Besieges 3 Buddhist Monastery in Arakan,” Narinjara News, 27 January 2005).

 

Muslims in Arakan State gathering to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha on 21 and 22 January 2005 faced various restrictions by the SPDC. The regime refused to allow prayers services at the Eid-Ghah, an open area of worship, and religious ceremonies in Mosques were restricted. Muslims in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathidaung and Sittwe Townships were also prohibited from traveling or assembling in large numbers. (Source: “Muslims Complain of Military Extortion during Religious Festival in Arakan,” Kaladan News, 25 January 2005).

 Go to Top

 

12.15 Restriction on the Movements and Harassment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD

 

To stifle potential opposition by the NLD, the junta continued to target, intimidate and imprison NLD members and leaders throughout 2005, particularly in light of the ongoing NC proceedings. Throughout the year, the NLD reported extensive monitoring of their activities and harassment by the SPDC. Several prominent NLD leaders, including Gen. Sec. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Vice-Chairman U Tin Oo, had their terms of detention arbitrarily extended in 2005 (source: Locked up Forever? Burma Campaigners Seek Ruling from United Nations on Ten Imprisoned Dissidents,” U.S. Campaign for Burma, 21 March 2005). Meanwhile fresh arrests of NLD members increased in 2005. The regime arrested at least 34 NLD members, including 3 elected NLD MPs (source: NCGUB, 1 January 2006). According to Amnesty International, more NLD MP’s were arrested in February and March 2005 than in the 21 months following the Depayin Massacre on 30 May 2003. NLD spokesperson U Lwin also indicated that the NLD seemed to be having more problems with the special police. In May and June there was an increase in the number of articles in the state-run media criticizing the NLD. This intensified targeting by the SPDC led to reports that the regime intended on eliminating NLD oppositionists and their families by 2006 (source: “NLD Faces New Junta Threat,” Irrawaddy, 21 June 2005). Additionally throughout the year, the SPDC resorted to threats of arrest and bribery to pressure NLD members into quitting the party (source: “NLD Youth Received Threatening Letters from Burma Junta,” DVB, 5 January 2005; “Burma Junta Enticing NLD Members to Quit Party in Maymyo,” DVB, 10 June 2005). The junta also stifled NLD organized activities and events. Throughout the year, several NLD groups outside of Rangoon were prohibited from holding celebrations and anniversary events throughout the year.

 

Despite the regime’s oppression, Burma’s main opposition party continued to carry out its political activities. The NLD was able to register their position on various events and activities affecting conditions in Burma through statements and designated spokespersons. For the first time since the May 2003 Depayin Massacre, all free NLD MP’s gathered together for a three-day meeting on 24 October 2005 during which they renewed their appeal for dialogue with the junta. (Source: “Suu Kyi’s 10 Years Detention Marked Worldwide,” Irrawaddy, 25 October 2005)

 

Harassment of the NLD- Partial List of Incidents for 2005

 

On 12 February 2005, some NLD groups were barred from organizing Union Day events to commemorate the signing of the Panglong agreement establishing a federal union. (Source: “Burmese Union Day Celebrated by NLD,” DVB, 12 February 2005).

 

On 13 February 2005, the sentence of NLD Vice Chairman U Tin Oo was extended for another year (source: “Myanmar Extends Detention of Opposition's Deputy Leader,” AP, 15 February 2005). Dr. May Win Myint, NLD MP from Mayangon Township, Rangoon Division was similarly informed on 2 February 2005 that she would remain detained despite the completion of her sentence in 2004 (source: “Jail Terms of NLD Representatives Extended,” DVB, 9 February 2005).

 

In March 2005, 5 NLD members were detained for failing to register as houseguests while attending a wedding in Twente Township, Rangoon Division. They were released on 18 March. (Source: “Five NLD Members Freed by Burma Junta,” DVB, 19 March 2005).

 

On 10 March 2005, it was reported that Lt. Col. San Aung of the Matupi Township Tactical Command in Chin State seized and destroyed the house of Pa Lian Thang, the Assistant Secretary of the NLD for Matupi Township. Pa Lian Thang fled to India fearing arrest by the junta in July 2003. His family left Matupi to join him following the confiscation of their house and continued harassment, interrogations, and intimidation by the SPDC. (Source: “SPDC Unlawfully Destroyed House of Local Leader of National League for Democracy Party,” Rhododendron Publication, Volume III No II, CHRO, 10 March 2005).

 

On 17 March 2005, U Kyaw San, elected NLD MP of Taze Township, Sagaing Division, was detained when the SPDC found material from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) in his house that belonged to friends of his son. U Kyaw San was recently released last November after serving nearly 10 years in prison (source: “Sagaing Div NLD Chairman U Kyaw San Detained,” DVB, 17 March 2005). Following his arrest, he engaged in a hunger strike (source: “NLD MP, U Kyaw San Still Not Allowed to See Wife,” DVB, 22 March 2005). (For more information see Chapter 3 Arbitrary Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances).

 

Also on 17 March 2005, Kyaw Min, elected MP of the NLD for Buthidaung Township, Arakan State and CRPP member, was arrested for unknown reasons (source: “Myanmar Junta Arrests Two Politicians,” Reuters, 18 March 2005). (For more information see Chapter 3 Arbitrary Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances).

 

On 27 March 2005, the main NLD office in Rangoon held events for the 60th Anniversary of Anti-Fascist Resistance Day to commemorate the beginning of the resistance movement against Japanese occupation. However, the celebrations took place under heightened security following a series of bombings earlier in the month. (Sources: “Burmese Activists and Leaders Mark 60th Anniversary of Resistance Day,” DVB, 27 March 2005; “Another Bomb Exploded in Rangoon,” DVB, 19 March 2005). Meanwhile, the NLD in Taungdwinggyi Township, Magwe Division were told on 25 March to stop their preparations. The junta informed the NLD groups that only regime-sponsored celebrations were allowed. The SPDC similarly banned NLD-organized celebrations in nearby Natmauk Township. (Source: “NLD Members in Taungdwinggyi Not Allowed to Mark Resistance Day,” DVB, 28 March 2005).

 

On 30 March 2005, Saw Hlaing, the elected NLD MP of Indaw Township, Sagaing Division was arrested and imprisoned in Katha prison. It is unclear why he was arrested. (Source: “Yet Another NLD Leader Arrested by Burma Junta,” DVB, 31 March 2005).

 

On 1 May 2005, 9 days after being arbitrarily arrested, NLD youth member Aung Hlaing Win died due to torture during SPDC interrogations. A medical report documented 24 external bruises, 3 broken ribs, a bruised heart, a swollen throat as well as infected stomach and intestines. (Sources: “Myanmar Opposition Party to File Complaint Over NLD Member's Mystery Death,” AFP, 17 May 2005; “Doctors Confirm Torture of NLD Youth Member,” Irrawaddy, 8 June 2005; “Myanmar Court Says NLD Member Died in Custody of Natural Causes,” AFP, 10 June 2005).

 

On 19 June 2005, Aung San Suu Kyi’s 60th birthday, SPDC authorities arrested NLD members who tried to celebrate by releasing 61 doves at the Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon in her honor. They were released after they removed T-shirts that pictured Daw Suu Kyi’s photo and the slogan “Set her free.” (Source: “Thousands Rally to Call for Suu Kyi’s Release,” The Nation, 20 June 2005).

 

On 7 July 2005, 2 NLD members were detained following an SPDC raid on Tagu village, Einme Township in Irrawaddy Division. (Source: “More than 30 People Detained in Delta Region,” DVB, 5 August 2005).

 

On the 20 July 2005, the 58th anniversary of the assassination of Burma’s independence leaders, the SPDC prohibited the NLD from holding Martyr’s Day ceremonies to honor fallen heroes, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, Gen Aung San. (Source: “Myanmar Bars Opposition from Honouring Slain Independence Leaders,” AFP, 19 July 2005).

 

On 15 September 2005, the SPDC and USDA of Twante Township, Rangoon Division demolished a local NLD office under the justification of a road-widening project (source: “Rangoon Twante NLD Office Demolished by Burmese Authorities,” DVB, 15 September 2005). Meanwhile the NLD office building in Kawthaung Township, Tenasserim Division collapsed in disrepair after SPDC authorities refused to allow NLD members to make the necessary repairs. NLD offices in 9 other townships were similarly dilapidated and in need of serious repair. (Source: “NLD Office at Kawthaung Collapses in Southern Burma,” DVB, 23 September 2005).

 

It was reported on 20 September 2005 that the SPDC in Dawpon Township, Rangoon Division forced the NLD to close a home for HIV/AIDS patients. (Source: “NLD Urge Burmese Authorities to Cooperate on Fight against AIDS,” DVB, 20 September 2005).

 

NLD members were subject to interrogation about their preparations for the 27 September 2005 17th Anniversary of the NLD. Although they were allowed to hold the event, afterwards several NLD participants continued to be harassed by SPDC authorities (source: “Burmese Authorities Interrogate NLD Leaders in Pegu,” DVB, 29 September 2005). NLD members from Taungdwinggyi and Magwe Township, Magwe Division were forced to sign a pledge agreeing to refrain from organizing any events to celebrate National Day on 25 November 2005 (sources: “Magwe NLD Told Indirectly Not to Mark Burmese National Day,” DVB, 11 November 2005; “Taungdwinggyi NLD Warned Not to Mark Burmese National Day,” DVB, 10 November 2005).

 

On 5 October 2005, the SPDC election commission in Yamethin Township, Mandalay Division informed NLD leaders that they were barred from carrying out political activities due to an insufficient number of members and threatened them with arrest. (Source: “Burmese Authorities Intimidate NLD Leaders Again,” DVB, 6 October 2005).

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Go to Top

Table of Contents
Facts on Human Rights Violations