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Myanmar

Yearbook 2019

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.

2019 Myanmar

According to 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 proceed.

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 November.

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 ceasefires.

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