The Burma Crisis: Civilian Targets without Recourse

Author:Justin Bell
Position:Lincoln Memorial University, Duncan School of Law
Pages:768-807
SUMMARY

Burma could be considered the "Mecca" for human rights violations. Located in southeast Asia, Burma is a country ruled by a military government that has refused to relinquish power to a publicly-elected democratic Parliament. There have been recent strides toward establishing a democracy; however, the democratic movement is progressing at a stagnant pace. Meanwhile, many Burmese citizens continue ... (see full summary)

 
FREE EXCERPT
e Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law
ISSN: 2338-7602; E-ISSN: 2338-770X
http://www.ijil.org
© 2014 e Institute for Migrant Rights Press
rst published online 24 June 2014
768
Note. e inspiration to research and report on the situation in Burma came from my
wife, Iris Nunmawi Bell, and I would like to extend special thanks to her. Until 1989,
Iris was a citizen of Chin State in Western Burma and she witnessed rst-hand what life
under a tyrannical military regime is truly like. rough her personal experience, Iris
provided valuable insight and comments during the review process. Also, I would like to
express special thanks to Allison J. Scott, J.D. for her contribution in editing this report.
e Appendix photographs were courtesy of DigitalGlobe.
THE BURMA CRISIS
CIVILIAN TARGETS WITHOUT RECOURSE
JUSTIN BELL
Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law
E-mail: justin.steven.bell@gmail.com
Burma could be considered the “Mecca” for human rights violations. Located in
southeast Asia, Burma is a country ruled by a military government that has refused
to relinquish power to a publicly-elected democratic Parliament. ere have been
recent strides toward establishing a democracy; however, the democratic movement is
progressing at a stagnant pace. Meanwhile, many Burmese citizens continue to face
horric human rights violations, including torture and death, while the world stands
idly by and watches as these events unfold. is article provides a concise description
of the horric events that have occurred throughout Burma’s history and identies
what progression the country has recently made. However, this article reveals that such
progress is predominately “smoke in mirrors” and the ght to establish a democracy in
Burma must target the primary barrier to resolving this conict in order to maintain
international peace and security.
Keywords: Myanmar, Failing State, Human Rights, International Criminal Law, Crimes
Against Humanity, War Crimes, Rome Statute, Geneva Convention.
Justin Bell
THE BURMA CRISIS: CIIVILIAN TARGETS WITHOUT RECOURSE
769
I. INTRODUCTION
For over fty years the people of Burma have been forced to live under
the tyrannical rule of the Burmese military. e civilian population has
endured many of these years with little attention given to the atrocities
that have become commonplace within the Burmese culture. Even though
numerous attempts to re-instate democracy have been circumvented by
military eorts, the struggle to suppress military assaults on civilians has
become enamored in the hearts of Burmese victims and their families.
Nevertheless, horric crimes continue to be imposed upon civilians
throughout the various ethnic regions in Burma. ese crimes have reached
epidemic proportions and have cultivated through military attempts
to suppress armed ethnic insurgents. Since the 1990s, the Burmese
military has inicted widespread and systematic sexual violence, torture,
extrajudicial killings, forced displacement of over a million people, and
has forcibly recruited tens of thousands of child soldiers—an amount that
rivals any country in the world. A particular oense of interest involves
the military’s recent destruction or displacement of over 3,000 villages—a
number comparable to those reported in the Darfur conict.1
In 2007, the Saron Revolution, led by the Buddhist Monks, returned
the international spotlight onto Burma. is attention thrust into focus
the one person who embodies the Burmese struggle for democracy—
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (“Aung San Suu Kyi”
or “Suu Kyi”). Her eorts have captivated many nations around the world
and through her detention and eventual release, many Burmese people
have regained hope for a new tomorrow. Yet, with the recent glimpse of
Burma’s apparent transition to democracy, there still remains a trail of
destruction in the wake of the Burmese Army.
1. International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, Report of the International
Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General, at ¶ 236,
Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1564 of 18 September 2004 (January 25,
2005).
The Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law Volume I Issue 3 (2014) at 768–807
Justin Bell
770
II. HISTORY OF BURMA
Burma is a country located in Southeast Asia that is bordered by ailand,
Laos, China, India, and Bangladesh. Burma’s current population is
estimated in excess of 55 million.2 e Burmese people comprise the
largest ethnic group in the modern state and account for approximately
68 percent of the total population.3 Other ethnic nationality groups
inhabit individual regions or states throughout Burma. ese minority
groups form individual states, such as the Shan, Karen, Rakhine, Arakin,
Chin, Kachin, Karenni, and Mon—among others.4
Prior to the nineteenth century, Burma was a compilation of multiple
territories existing under the rule of various ethnic groups.5 In 1824,
the British commenced a military initiative to seize control of Burma
and eventually colonized the country in 1885.6 During World War II,
Japan seized control of Burma by forming a coalition with the Burma
Independence Army, which was led by General Aung San.7 However,
the quest to form an independent country led Burmese leaders to form
the Anti-Fascist Peoples Freedom League (“AFPFL”). Ironically, with
assistance from the British, the AFPFL nally liberated Burma from
Japan’s clutches in 1945.8 Following WWII, the British resisted the initial
calls for independence by the Burmese nationalists; however, they later
acquiesced, due to eorts by General Aung San in forming an alliance
2. Burma, in T CIA W F, C I A, available
at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bm.html
(last updated Mar. 26, 2013).
3. Id.
4. Id.; Ethnic Nationalities Council (Union of Burma), (Apr. 4, 2013), available
at http://www.encburma.net/index.php/about-enc.html; see also, e Special
Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human
rights in Myanmar, Report on the situation of human rights in Myanmar in
accordance with Commission resolution 1992/58, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1993/37,
para. 10 (Feb. 17, 1993) [hereinafter Special Rapporteur 1993].
5. J S, B, M R   P  S
3-5 (1977).
6. Id. at 5-6.
7. C F, L S: B U M R 21 (2001).
8. Burma Prole: Timeline—A chronology of key events, Asia-Pacic, BBC N, (Apr.
2, 2013, 8:00 AM), http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacic-12992883
[hereinafter Burma Prole].

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL