Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why is Britain training the Burmese Army?

Dear friend

The British government is spending £87,850 on military training for the Burmese Army without setting any preconditions on the Burmese military improving human rights and supporting democratic reform.

They don’t know whether the people they are training have committed human rights abuses, and cannot monitor soldiers after they have been on the course, so have no way of assessing the effectiveness of the training or whether they go on to commit abuses.

Even though the British government says it wants to end impunity for rape and sexual violence in conflict zones, they didn’t even get an agreement to end the Burmese Army’s use of rape as a weapon of war.

The best way to stop the Burmese Army committing human rights abuses is to ensure they are held accountable for their crimes. The British government is not taking any action to ensure this happens. Instead they are providing training as part of their policy of trying to win favours from the Burmese government in order to win business contracts.

What is the point in training Burmese Army soldiers about human rights when it is their military and political masters who are the ones ordering them to commit human rights abuses?

The best way to end human rights abuses by the Burmese Army is for soldiers who commit human rights abuses, and those who order them to commit human rights abuses, to be put on trial and jailed. In this way, for the first time, soldiers and their political and military masters would know that they can’t get away with committing these abuses.

Ethnic people in Burma have suffered enough at the hands of the Burmese Army. They don’t want a better trained and more efficient Army coming to their villages and committing abuses.

Thank you.
Anna Roberts