Over the past two years, some people in Burma have experienced some remarkable changes. The government of Burma has released political prisoners made moves toward greater political freedom, and loosened strict media controls. But people in Burma have also witnessed continuing crimes by the military, ongoing conflict in Kachin state, and violent ethnic clashes in Rakhine [Arakan] state.
The Karen National Union's struggle for autonomy from Myanmar's central government, now in its sixth decade of armed resistance, is widely recognized as the world's longest-running insurgency. Now, a split within the KNU's senior ranks threatens to weaken its armed front and undermine its negotiating position at a time when President Thein Sein's push for peace with ethnic armies gains greater international recognition.
The US, EU and other world powers have been quick to reward Burma's once-notorious regime for a series of dramatic, positive reforms. Diplomatic channels have been opened up for the first time in decades, many economic sanctions have been lifted and there's been a surge in international investment. But the country’s weak rule of law, rampant corruption and terrible treatment of minority groups are often glazed over in the rush to invest in the "new" Burma.
The US government has lifted all remaining sanctions and allowed corporations unrestricted investment access to Burma despite widespread corruption, ongoing human rights violations and a total lack of rule of law.
Burmese soldiers are forcing Karen villagers to work for them in eastern Burma despite moves by the government toward a ceasefire with ethnic rebels in the region, the Free Burma Rangers said Friday, after a fresh round of peace talks on troops’ conduct. The FBR report backs up PHR's recent findings that the Karen minority face a “constant threat” of forced labor and other rights violations.