News / Asia

Post-Election VIolence in Burma Prompts Fears of Wider Crackdown on Minorities

Burmese citizens cross the Moei river as they flee Myawaddy township in Burma's to Thailand's Mae Sot town, 08 Nove. 2010, following fighting between Burmese soldiers and ethnic Karen fighters.
Burmese citizens cross the Moei river as they flee Myawaddy township in Burma's to Thailand's Mae Sot town, 08 Nove. 2010, following fighting between Burmese soldiers and ethnic Karen fighters.

A day after national elections in Burma, fighting between ethnic Karen forces and Burmese troops is raising fears for a wider government crackdown on minority communities.

It is not clear what started the fighting between the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army [DKBA] and the Burmese army in the town of Myawaddy. But on Monday, 24 hours after the battle started, thousands of people had fled across the border, to the Thai city of Mae Sot.

Achin Sopagya, a resident of Mae Sot, said there were casualties, including two taxi drivers in Myawaddy near the offices of the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party [USDP].

"Seven people got hurt and I confirm that I heard that in front of the USDP office, two trishaw drivers also died immediately," Achin Sopagya said. "I think because of this so many people escape and I think there is too much tension."

Several ethnic armies have been fighting in Burma for decades for autonomy. Burma's army has been accused of atrocities and human rights violations during campaigns against the militias, while some of the ethnic forces are accused of drug trafficking and smuggling.

Over the past 15 years, some minority groups signed ceasefires with the government, and several took part in Sunday's elections - the first in 20 years. But others remain defiant, in part, because of the government's demand they join the national border guard service.

Human rights activists and militia contacts say recently six ethnic armies agreed to cooperate because of fears of an assault by Burmese forces. Together they command about 60,000 troops.

Khin Zaw Wyn, an independent consultant and author in Rangoon, told foreign journalists in a telephone link up the tensions show Burma's failure to draw ethnic groups into a wider political framework.

"Most worries are the ethnic armed organizations and my feeling is that the whole issue is now being shunted to the next parliament," Khin Zaw Wyn said. "The present regime has shown very clearly that it is unwilling or incapable of solving it you see. So we need able hands and hearts … to bring about genuine and durable settlement."

Soe Aung, spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma, says the fighting in Myawaddy raises fears of escalating violence.

"Now we've been hearing about the increase of the troops of military regime along the border and preparation of the ethnic groups to protect their rights and preparation of forming alliances," he said. " The consensus is that there will be ongoing conflict between the ethnic groups and the military regime."

Although Burma's government has not said when the election results will be announced, it is certain that people allied with the military will dominate the parliament.

The constitution, adopted last year, allocates 25 percent of the seats to the military, and the two largest parties in the election had military backing. Tough election laws made it difficult for opposition candidates to run, or to get their message out.

Some regional political analysts say the vote may gradually open the government up to new voices and new ways of thinking that could lead to political reform after nearly 50 years of military rule.

Debbie Stothard, the spokeswoman for the Alternate ASEAN Network on Burma, holds no such hope.

"The question now lies in what's going to happen in a post-election scenario," she said. "It's very obvious to us that there's going to be more war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place because the constitution actually legitimizes it, impunity. There's going to be even more constraints on political activities.

Burma's military government says the election is part of its plan to return the country to civilian rule. But the army says it must retain a significant role in the government to be able to prevent ethnic militias from trying to split the nation.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs