30 January 2014
Burma is in the midst of change and we want to report to you what is happening, both good and bad. We are grateful for those who have brought greater freedoms to Burma. We also want to stand with those who have not yet experienced those freedoms and are still under attack. Thank you for your prayers and support.
A summary of the situation as we see it now in January 2014
Good news and improvement in some areas:
1.Aung San Suu Kyi holds a position in parliament and she, along with others continue to work for more freedom, reforms and justice in Burma.
2.There are some in the government at higher levels who do want to change the constitution and establish reforms before the 2015 elections.
3.Many political prisoners have been released and there is greater political freedom.
4.Censorship and travel restrictions have been eased.
5.Ceasefire negotiations are ongoing with many of the ethnic groups and there is an overall reduction in fighting and displacement. Ethnic Armed Groups are negotiating with the government regarding political dialogue, credible monitoring mechanisms, and the need to consolidate existing ceasefires.
6.Burma Army leaders have signed an agreement to end forced labor and there has been a reduction in some areas.
7.The FBR had the opportunity to meet U Aung Min in 2012, as well as some of the leaders of the new government.
New attacks and ongoing oppression:
1.In spite of and during ceasefire talks, the Burma Army attacks against the Kachin continue with over 100,000 Kachin people displaced since 2011. In November and December 2013 the Burma Army attacked a Kachin IDP camp burning shelters, looting rice stocks and displacing over 2,000 people who had to flee again. Attacks continue in this area as of January 2014. See FBR report.
2.In northern Shan State, fighting and displacement continue against the Shan and Ta’ang people, through 2013 and into 2014. Attacks are especially heavy in Kut Hkai, Nam Kham, Nam San, Mon Ton, Mu Se, and Kyauk Mae townships. Victims are Kachin, Shan and Ta’ang villagers. In January 2014 the Burma army continued attacks into Kyauk Mae township, Northern Shan State, capturing villagers and torturing local leaders. *Report pending.
3.In Karen State the Burma Army is using the ceasefires to supply their camps beyond the normal supply rate and continue to use forced labor. In December 2013, they fired on villagers on 9 different occasions in Luthaw Township, Muthraw District, Northern Karen State. They have also built new camps and reinforced existing camps. See FBR report.
4.The constitution has not been changed and the military retains control of power.
5.In Arakan State, over 140,000 people have been displaced by inter-ethnic violence between the Rohingya and Arakan. This has been partially fueled by repressive Burma government policies and actions. Rohinga refugees suffer brutal living conditions and live in constant fear of attack. Please see Fortify Rights Report on the Rohingya.
6.Humanitarian access is still blocked for IDPs in parts of Karen, Karenni, Shan, Arakan and Kachin State.
7.There has been no apology, expression of remorse or establishment of a truth and reconciliation process to address Burma Army attacks, oppressions, human rights violations, war crimes and displacement.
8.Karen and Karenni refugees continue to live restricted lives with a decrease in food supplies.
9.Land confiscation and land rights abuses have become worse due to government and business encroachment.
We see two things continuing to happen at once: positive changes and ongoing oppression. The Free Burma Rangers will continue giving help, hope and love to those under attack, to get the news out and to stand with the oppressed. FBR has added land-mapping to help villagers retain their land in the midst of changes. We pray for more positive changes and for a closer relationship with the Burma government. We continue to pray for and work for, reconciliation, justice and freedom for all.
Thank you and may God bless you,
Dave, family and all of FBR