Burma’s much needed ceasefire presents a valuable opportunity, provided the military keeps its promises

By Benedict Rogers

Burma’s Cardinal Bo has repeatedly called for peace for a long time. In a statement last month in support of Pope Francis’ plea for a global ceasefire, he warned that during the COVID-19 pandemic continued armed conflict in Burma (officially known as Myanmar) would have “catastrophic consequences for our nation.”

He urged the military – known as the Tatmadaw – and ethnic armed resistance groups to “lay down all weapons and acts of aggression. Be armed instead with sincerity and truth. Let us take the more difficult path of overcoming differences face to face with courage and intelligence. Don’t hide humanity behind guns. In the end that is sheer weakness.”

The Cardinal, who is also President of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, argued that: “Soldiers are unnecessarily endangered by exposure to the unseen viral assassin. Civilians are endangered, even by bombardments purportedly aimed at military targets. Peace negotiations are endangered by continued aggressive threats. An economy under severe strain is put at risk by military adventures. Any spike in contagion in IDP camps, among detained persons, or in crowded spaces, gravely threatens the surrounding populations as well.”

Continue reading “Burma’s much needed ceasefire presents a valuable opportunity, provided the military keeps its promises”

“No one is immune from the roundups”: Life for Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region

China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is currently witnessing an unprecedented human rights crisis in which between one and three million predominantly Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs and members of other ethnic minorities have been detained without charge or trial in so-called ‘re-education camps.’ The following blog post is written by an expert on Uyghur culture and sheds light on what life is like for those inside the region.

“Imagine a world where your every movement is watched. Where who you meet, who you visit, and even what you talk about is monitored. Where you can be hauled off a bus mid-journey or dragged out of your car at a checkpoint, where your belongings, your identity, your face, your fingerprints and your irises are scanned several times a day, and where the contents of your phone could send you to prison for the rest of your life.

This is the new reality for more than 10 million Uyghurs (pronounced Weega) in China’s north-west Xinjiang province, since the former governor of Tibet, Chen Quanguo was summoned to take over the helm of, in the eyes of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, China’s second most problematic province in 2017.

Continue reading ““No one is immune from the roundups”: Life for Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region”

Un Tema lingüístico: ¿Qué es la persecución?

Los crímenes de lesa humanidad son uno de los cuatro crímenes atroces definidos en el derecho internacional.[1] La primera acusación por crímenes contra la humanidad ocurrió después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Se basaba en la creencia de que ciertos crímenes son una afrenta a la conciencia de la humanidad. La comunidad internacional trató de garantizar que no hubiera impunidad por los crímenes que violen la esencia de la dignidad humana.

Uno de ellos es el crimen de la persecución.

Persecución: un crimen de lesa humanidad

La jurisprudencia sobre crímenes de lesa humanidad fue desarrollada por dos tribunales creados ad hoc por el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas: el Tribunal Penal Internacional para la ex Yugoslavia (TPIY) y el Tribunal Internacional para Ruanda (TPIR).

LEE MÁS

Language Matters: What is Persecution?

Crimes against humanity are one of four atrocity crimes defined in international law.[1] The first prosecution for crimes against humanity happened after the Second World War. It was underpinned by the belief that certain crimes are an affront to the very conscience of mankind.  The international community sought to ensure there would be no impunity for crimes that violate the essence of human dignity.

One of them is the crime of persecution.

Persecution – a crime against humanity.

Jurisprudence on crimes against humanity was developed by two ad hoc tribunals created by the United Nations Security Council: the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Continue reading “Language Matters: What is Persecution?”

Burma’s identity crisis

The forced closure last week of three temporary Muslim prayer sites in Yangon is just the latest in a litany of abuses inflicted on Burma’s religious minorities by ultra-nationalist Buddhists. Add this to the decades-long persecution by the Burma Army of non-Burman ethnic minorities, many of whom are also non-Buddhists, and you get a nationwide cocktail of religious intolerance and conflict.

Muslims, Christians, and indeed Buddhists, who oppose the extremists are increasingly living in fear, in a country where ethno-religious nationalism has led to hate speech, intolerance, discrimination, persecution, crimes against humanity and, in one particularly egregious case, genocide.

That is the picture presented by CSW’s new report, Burma’s Identity Crisis: How ethno-religious nationalism has led to religious intolerance, crimes against humanity and genocide, published today. The report is the result of over three years’ work, involving first-hand front-line research, supplemented by information provided by CSW’s contacts in Burma and by other organisations working on these issues. It tells the human stories, it analyses the legislative framework, it assesses the international community’s response and it provides a call for action.

Continue reading “Burma’s identity crisis”