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3/29/04 - HUMAN RIGHTS IN BURMA - 2004-03-30

The U.S. is committed to supporting the long-suffering people of Burma until they again have the opportunity to elect their leaders through a fair and democratic process. The last election was held in 1990, with the National League for Democracy emerging as the winner. But Burma’s military junta has refused to yield power and continues to deny the wishes of the Burmese voters.

Lorne Craner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, says the junta’s campaign of violence and repression shows its “blatant disregard for the basic human rights of the Burmese people”:

“The junta suppresses political dissent through persecution, censorship, imprisonment, beatings, and disappearances. Security forces continue to commit extrajudicial killings and rape. They also sharply curtail religious freedom, and security forces systematically monitor citizens’ movements and communications.”

Last year, a convoy carrying National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters was ambushed and she was arrested. She remains under house arrest. The junta continues to rule through fear and brutality, and with a complete disregard for the rule of law.

Burmese minority groups are victims of especially severe abuses. According to non-governmental organizations, the Burmese military has used rape against ethnic Shan, Karen, Mon, Karenni, Chin, and Tavoyan women.

Like Aung San Suu Kyi, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As he says, “to settle for anything less than freedom and justice, for the democratic participation of all people, would be to accept the presence of oppression and to dishonor our brave brothers and sisters who have dedicated themselves to the future of a democratic Burma.”