On 28 November, Partners held a press release to publicly present its first official human rights report titled Crimes in Northern Burma: Results from a Fact-Finding Mission to Kachin State. (Unfortunately, this link is no longer available.)
Partners has begun human rights documentation in active war areas inside Burma, and is publishing these reports in an attempt to reveal what is going on behind the pseudo democratic reform in Burma. The European Union has already dropped some of its sanctions this year, and Hillary Clinton has just visited Burma to see what options there are for the United States to partner with Burma in the future. One article states that the changes “are significant nonetheless” because the government has “recently released more than 6,000 political prisoners” and “in an uncharacteristic move…thwarted the Chinese-funded $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project in the state of Kachin, relenting to continuous pressure from the Burmese citizens in that region” (John Feffer, Burma: Engagement or Appeasement?).
And though it is all appearing optimistic, it’s falsified and construed. There weren’t 6,000 political prisoners released, namely because there were no more than 2,000 political prisoners incarcerated this year. A mere one hundred of the released prisoners were actually politically related; the rest were simply prisoners, most of which were very near the end of their term or near death. And the $3.6 billion dollar dam? It was a disaster for many, and would have forcibly removed thousands. But in the same area where these people won’t be removed, they have been attacked by the government, and is precisely where Partners’ human rights documentation took place. People were forcibly removed from their homes, but not for a project; for war.
Conversation implies that everyone is on the brink: the camps are on the verge of closing; the United Nations is considering its removal from the issue, including huge amounts of funding along the border; Mae Sot is ready to purge itself of the migrant community and crack down on legal cards.
And honestly? We’re hopeful.
Stephen & I are hopeful, dreaming of how we could be a part of rebuilding, rather than picking up the pieces now.
But even in our hope, the international conversation continues, and we wait. We hear deliberations on secure borders, appearing strong, and helping people that are now free to return to their newly “democratic” homeland; such large-scale perceptions of the situation.
Everything seems to be discussed from a distance, and we forget that these big concepts–sometimes even considered “problems”–of democracy, refugees, migrants, development: these are people. People create a democratic country; democratic rights are for the people. The big “problem” of refugee camps and migrant communities are working fathers, young mothers, ambitious students, and newborn babies.
How do we forget the lives behind the masses?
And what do we do to remember them?
Currently we have two ideas for you.
First, write or call your local senator. Send the Partners’ human rights report; encourage them to hold Clinton accountable for what she’s seen and what she knows about human rights in Burma. This is an easy, tangible opportunity, and I know the whole group of children playing Go Fish outside of our door would be really thankful.
Second, can we please pray? I suppose we ask this always, and we should never stop believing that “God will give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night” (Luke 18:7). Even so, please join us to pray now more than ever. We are seeing hope fill this place in a way it hasn’t in so many years, and we are praying that justice comes speedily (v.8).
Here’s to hoping, that it may never disappoint us.