Burma. In 2019, Burma did not come closer to a solution
to the Rohingya crisis in the state of Rakhine. The country
was subjected to continued criticism of the persecution of
the Muslim minority group. During the year, Burma and
Bangladesh - where over 720,000 Rohingya have moved since
2017 - held several fruitless rounds of talks on how the
refugees would return.
CountryAAH, UN Special Rapporteur in Burma, Yanghee Lee, stated on
October 22 that refugees were still unsafe to return.
In April, the EU extended sanctions against 14 commanders
in the army, border guard and police who were considered
involved in the assault. Similarly, the EU arms embargo was
extended. The United States banned Burma's OB Min Aung
Hlaing and three other high-ranking military and their
relatives from entering the country.
In August, the United Nations Independent Investigation
Mission (FFM) reported that 14 foreign companies, including
Russian and Chinese, supplied weapons and other equipment to
Burma's military. Two large conglomerates with connections
to high command were also mentioned. These companies have
interests in manufacturing, tourism and gemstones. The UN
experts urged the outside world not to do business with them
as they strengthened the economic power of the military.
The legal pressure against the Burmese government
intensified in November. Judges at the International
Criminal Court (ICC) decided to approve ICC Prosecutor Fatou
Bensouda's request to open a larger investigation into the
military's role in 2017 that triggered the mass escape.
Suspicions related to mass executions, assassinations and
group rapes aimed at ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in the
state of Rakhine. Burma opposed this, but as the ICC member
Bangladesh was concerned, the ICC considered that it could
The International Court of Justice in The Hague, a UN
body, also decided to hold hearings in December on genocide
charges against Burma. The Gambia drove the issue on behalf
of the 57 member countries of the Islamic Cooperation
Organization OIC. Burma civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi led
the country's lawsuit in The Hague, denying that it was
genocide without an "internal armed conflict" with a
complicated, long-standing history. The Burma authorities
themselves could investigate and convict the guilty. The
prosecutor's office criticized her for not touching on the
persecution of civilians.
Freedom of speech was under continued pressure. Reporters
Without Borders reported that the military regularly
harasses journalists. Six members of a theater group that
conducted a traditional poetry slam, allegedly engaged with
the military, were sentenced to one year in prison in
In May President Win Myint pardoned two journalists from
the Reuters news agency who in 2018 were sentenced to seven
years in prison for violating the Privacy Act. They had
reported a massacre of ten men and boys in the village of
Inn Din. At the same time, seven soldiers sentenced to ten
years for the massacre were released after less than a year.
Parliament set up a committee in which 14 parties and
independent members proposed amendments to the Constitution
of 2008 that the military pushed through. Among the
proposals were noted to abolish the military's veto over
constitutional changes. In October, Suu Kyi said the changes
were needed for "full democracy" but that she doubted that
they could be pushed through before the 2020 elections.
In September, the UN urged Burma to allow 600,000 people
in northern Rakhine to access the Internet again. It was
shut down in June after fierce fighting between government
forces and the Buddhist rebel force Arakanarm谷n (AA), which
is fighting for greater self-government for the Arakan
people in Rakhine. AA is part of an alliance with two ethnic
rebel forces in the state of Shan in the north.
Struggles also occurred in the states of Chin, Kachin and
Shan, although the government side announced unilateral