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ICYMI: Burma’s Crimes Against Humanity in the Headlines
The Washington Post Editorial Board met with Liberty and Leadership Scholar Aung Kyaw Moe in late April. The paper has since released a series of opinion pieces on the atrocities of the Burmese military, including the following:
- Burma’s crimes against humanity went unpunished. No wonder it’s at it again.
- In Burma, the jailing of journalists sheds light on a deeper crisis
Last week’s editorial covers the well-known persecution and forced removal of 700,000 Rohingya Muslims, as well as the lesser known ongoing conflict with the Kachin, a mostly Christian ethnic group near Burma’s resource-rich northern border with China.
The Kachin people have recently faced air strikes and gun fire, with new clashes being described as the most intense in decades. Unlike the Rohingya, the Kachin have a well-organized military, the Kachin Independence Army, that fights back against Burma’s military. Lucrative natural resources in the area including gold, amber, jade, copper, and ruby have fueled the decades-long ‘resource war’ in the state.
The main concern among human rights groups is the survival of Kachin civilians, many who have been killed or displaced in recent government bombings. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates 7,500 Kachin residents have been displaced since April, and reports indicate the military is blocking relief supplies.
“The Tatmadaw, as the military is known, feels free to pursue this genocidal policy because it has suffered virtually no consequences for what human rights groups and senior U.N. officials describe as blatant crimes against humanity,” writes the Post.
The piece rightly urges the U.S. government to more aggressively pursue sanctions on the generals involved and to hold Burma’s military accountable for its systematic abuse of its people.
“Grave crimes have been carried out against defenseless civilians. If there is no serious response, the atrocities will be repeated – and not only in Burma,” they conclude.
For more coverage on Burma’s ongoing ethnic crises, read:
- Race Against the Rains: New York Times; May 30, 2018
- Myanmar Is Intensifying Violence Against Ethnic Minorities, U.S. Says: New York Times; May 29, 2018
- Myanmar Military Targets Other Ethnic Groups After Driving Rohingya Out: Wall Street Journal; May 29, 2018
- Nowhere to Call Home: Bush Center; May 10, 2018
For more on Bush Institute’s effort to support Burma’s democratic transition, visit our Liberty and Leadership Program website.
Jieun Pyun is a Manager for Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She is primarily responsible for development and implementation of the Liberty and Leadership Forum, an innovative educational and training program that equips young leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed during a democratic transition. The program currently engages young leaders from Burma (Myanmar).
Prior to joining the Bush Center, Jieun was the communications director with the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and a fellow of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia at Southern Methodist University.
Jieun currently serves as a council member of the National Unification Advisory Council of the Republic of Korea and the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Korean School Principals. As a proud member of the Korean Women's International Network, Jieun works to promote women’s leadership in local, national, and global politics and society. Jieun is a writer and presenter who has brought to light the many urgent issues suffered in North Korea.
A native of South Korea, Jieun is a graduate of Southern Methodist University with an M.B.A and B.A. in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.Full Bio
Policy Recommendations: Investing in Democracy in Burma
Burma: Now is the time to invest in democracy and achieve lasting peace
Diaries from Seoul
This September, Human Freedom Manager Jieun Pyun, Leadership Programs Manager Chris Walsh, and Human Freedom Fellow Victor Cha led select Liberty and Leadership program alumni on a week-long training program in Seoul. The scholars took home lessons about South Korea’s democratic transition and economic growth. Below are daily team check-ins from Jieun and Chris.
Where is Burma’s Moral Leadership?
After the Holocaust, the world pledged that such a genocide would never happen again. We have since witnessed its horrors in Rwanda and the Balkans. Now, it appears to be happening again in Burma, demonstrating the dearth of moral leadership at the highest levels of Burma’s government.