News / USA

Groups Press Clinton on Burmese Human Rights

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nov. 18, 2011 (file photo).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nov. 18, 2011 (file photo).
Ron Corben

U.S.-based rights groups are urging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to raise concerns over human rights when she meets this week with leaders of Burma’s military-backed government.

Twelve human-rights groups, including the broad-based U.S. Campaign for Burma, wrote to Clinton Monday asking her to take advantage of Burma's interest in a better relationship with the United States. The Washington-based group acknowledged reforms implemented by Burmese President Thein Sein since taking office earlier this year, but warned those positive steps could be reversed "at any time."

Organization officials called for more pressure on the government to release all political prisoners, which human-rights advocates say number in excess of 1,200. They also called for meaningful dialogue with the democratic opposition and representatives of ethnic minorities.

In Bangkok, Debbie Stothard, spokesperson for Alternative ASEAN Network, a rights group, said concerns about Burma’s commitment to reform are lingering after the passage of new laws that appear to restrict rather than advance democratic reforms.

"The new laws that have been put in place in the past year, including by the parliament, actually contradict a lot of the positive hype what has been going on in Burma," she said. "[There is a] new law for local government elections, but candidates will be picked by local authorities. We are [also] seeing the so-called peaceful assembly law, which seems to be more about restricting peaceful assembly."

Reports of ongoing violence

Ethnic violence also remains a key concern for outside aid organizations. Few foreign groups have access to remote areas where fighting occurs, but in a report released this week by Partners Relief & Development (PRD), human-rights workers documented recent attacks on ethnic minority Kachin villages, including torture and rape. The report says attacks occurred amid ongoing fighting between the army and the Kachin Independence Army.

Whereas Burmese officials have acknowledged attacks on ethnic minorities, they say the violence has not been systematic and that they are encouraged by what they call positive signs of talks with ethnic groups.

PRD co-founder Oddny Gumaer said she hopes Clinton will take up the issue of the attacks in talks with President Thein Sein.

"Most of our reports are coming from Kachin state, [but] the same kinds of things have been happening in Karen state and in Shan State," she said. "[And] yes, definitely, I would want Hillary Clinton to bring up these issues as she’s meeting with the leaders in Burma."

Earlier this month, a Burmese-government-appointed human-rights body urged the country’s president to release all political prisoners or transfer them to prisons closer to their families. Burmese officials have said the government holds no political prisoners, only those who have been convicted under the law.

The Association of South East Asian Nations, of which Burma is a member, has acknowledged reforms enacted by Burma's government, paving the way for Burma to chair the annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings in 2014.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs