Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Human rights risk in Myanmar

A new report by human rights campaigner Amnesty International says that the government of Myanmar continues repression of political opponents, activists and ethical minorities. The report casts doubt if the elections in Myanmar later this year will be free and fair at all.

Myanmar has said it would be holding national and local elections this year, the first since 1990. But human rights campaigners say the country's military regime has embarked on repressing opponents to eliminate any potential challenge during the elections.

Myanmar's 50 million people suffer extreme poverty and lack of access to health care. The country had a dismal per capita GDP of $239 in 2007. About 35% of the population are ethnic groups who face greater threats from the military regime's repressive tactics.

The report authors want the Myanmar government to lift restrictions on rallies and political assemblies, release political prisoners, remove restrictions on media, and stop harassment of ethnic and religious minorities.

The report also asks China, India and ASEAN to press Myanmar to respect internationally agreed human rights principles. The report also recommends that China should conduct full human rights and environmental impact assessments of all Chinese investments in Myanmar, particularly with a view toward minimizing human rights violations of ethnic minority groups.

Thailand, India, China, Japan and the United Kingdom are the main destinations for Mynamar's exports. The country mainly imports from China, Singapore, Thailand, Republic of Korea and Malaysia.

Amnesty's new report suggests the companies hoping to enter Myanmar after this year's elections may need to use extra caution in assessing human rights risks in Myanmar.

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