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Alternative Asean Network on Burma
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BURMA ISSUES & CONCERNS VOL.8: NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD: BURMA’S FACADE OF REFORM

 
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When President Thein Sein took office on 30 March 2011, Burma ranked near the bottom of virtually all international indexes that measured adherence to civil and political rights, press freedom, corruption, and economic freedom. With a baseline so low, Thein Sein was able to undertake a series of initiatives that gave the appearance of reform but which, in fact, brought very limited benefits for the overwhelming majority of Burmese people.

Thein Sein’s failure to stop human rights violations and to initiate fundamental legislative and institutional reforms effectively blocks Burma’s progress towards genuine democracy and national reconciliation. The regime has so far failed to meet the minimum benchmarks that the UN established to measure Burma’s progress toward democratization, national reconciliation, and respect for human rights.

It is time for the international community to shape their policies vis-à-vis Burma based on the regime’s concrete progress (or lack thereof) towards implementing genuine reforms, without being swayed by Naypyidaw’s well-orchestrated public relations campaign.

Truly democratic reforms must focus on halting impunity and implementing measures to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations. They must include: the unconditional release of ALL political prisoners; amendments to the 2008 constitution and laws not in line with international standards; the end of all military offensives in ethnic areas as well as the holding of time-bound genuine political dialogue with ethnic armed groups; and tangible steps towards the respect and promotion of human rights.