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Myanmar's pledges on human rights remain

Most of the people in Myanmar live as internally displaced people and two million have fled to neighbouring countries like Thailand.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 18:22 IST

Myanmar's military rulers have failed to meet promises of democratic reform and continue to break international law in battling ethnic rebels, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

"The junta's pledges of democratic reform and respect for human rights continue to be empty rhetoric," the New York-based watchdog said in its 2006 global report on human rights.

"The 2003 'road map' for a transition to democracy in Burma has made no progress," it said, using the country's former name.

Despite promises of political reform and national reconciliation, the ruling State Peace and Development Council "continues to operate a strict police state and drastically restricts basic rights and freedoms," the report said.

"It has suppressed the democratic movement represented by Aung San Suu Kyi, under detention since May 30, 2003, and has used internationally outlawed tactics in ongoing conflicts with ethnic minority groups."

Those tactics include recruiting child soldiers, forced labour and rape, the report said.

Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly ethnic minorities, live as internally displaced people and two million have fled to neighbouring countries, especially Thailand, the report said.

Although some political prisoners have been freed, including 249 in July 2005, at least 1,100 remain imprisoned for their beliefs.

These include pro-democracy icon and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest for more than 10 of the past 16 years and kept isolated from the outside world.

While ceasefires have been signed with 17 ethnic rebel groups, they have not resulted in improved living conditions or political settlements, the report said.

"In 2005 there was an increase in government military presence in certain ceasefire areas, and the political concerns of ethnic communities appear to have been left unaddressed in the deliberations of the National Convention."

The convention, which is drafting a constitution, has been condemned internationally as a sham because Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy has boycotted the talks until she and other leaders are released.

The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 18:22 IST