Thursday, April 29, 2010

New report on human rights in Myanmar shows no improvement

Human Rights Watch has issued an update on rights within Myanmar, the humanitarian group says human rights are less even after Cyclone Nargis. After the cyclone killed 140,000 people in 2004 the world hoped that the military junta that rules the country would be more open, but the reverse has happened.

From Reuters Alert Net, we read more about the report.

"Civilians in cyclone-affected areas continue to be subjected to various forms of forced labour, everyday restrictions on movements, and infringements of the rights to freedom of expression and association," according to Human Rights Watch's new report.

It said ongoing international recovery efforts are not accompanied by measures to protect human rights and 21 people who were arrested in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, for speaking out against the iron-fisted junta's handling of relief efforts, remain in jail.

The report called for their release as well as those of nearly 2,100 political prisoners. It cautioned that while the rise of civil society groups in Myanmar - formed to provide relief to cyclone survivors in the first few weeks before international aid was allowed in - is to be applauded, their existence remains extremely fragile.

The cyclone was the worst to hit Asia since 1991, and the country's ruling generals came under harsh international criticism for initially refusing to allow foreign aid workers into the country.

The government finally relented but progress was slow. Without the government's stringent restrictions in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, the survivors would be much farther down the road to recovery, the report said.

Despite estimated foreign reserves of US$5 billion and income from lucrative natural gas sales, "the Burmese government has failed to adequately support reconstruction efforts that benefit the population," it added, calling the country by its former name.

According to the report, the junta had allocated a mere 5 million kyats (US$50,000) to an emergency fund immediately after the storm.

No comments: