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Lack of Human Rights in Burma

The U.S. State Department's latest human rights report singles out the Burmese military junta for its widespread abuses.

The human rights situation in Burma has deteriorated over the last year. There have been numerous arrests of democracy supporters, including Shan Nationalities League for Democracy Chairman Hkun Htun Oo. Many are detained in secret locations without notification to their families or adequate legal counsel.

Burmese security forces continue to carry out extrajudicial killings and to rape, torture, and otherwise abuse prisoners and detainees. Since May 2003, the Burmese military junta has detained National League for Democracy General Secretary and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. In December 2004, Burmese authorities placed additional restrictions on her by removing her security detail, ordering her personal staff to leave her compound, and limiting visits by her personal physician.

Since 1962, Burma has been ruled by a succession of military regimes. In 1990, the opposition National League for Democracy won more than eighty percent of the seats in parliamentary elections. But the junta refused to honor the results.

On February 17th of this year, the Burmese junta reconvened its national convention, aimed at nullifying the results of the 1990 elections. The National League for Democracy and other pro-democracy ethnic parties have been denied a voice in this process. Without their participation, the convention lacks the legitimacy to draft a constitution that represents the will of the Burmese people.

Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky says the U.S. stands with Aung San Suu Kyi and others in Burma who are denied basic rights:

"We will continue to help the people of Burma in their struggle. We need to press the world to stand firm against the junta, and remind people everywhere precisely what is going on in Rangoon."

With its notorious human rights record, it is very clear why Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls Burma one of the world's "outposts of tyranny."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.