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"The idea of human rights begins with a
fundamental commitment to the dignity that is the birthright of every man,
woman and child," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
while introducing the annual Human Rights Report: "Progress in advancing
human rights begins with the facts. And
for the last 34 years, the United States has produced the Country Reports on
Human Rights Practices, providing the most comprehensive record available of the
condition of human rights around the world."
The Report raised grave concerns about the human rights situation in Burma.
Burma is ruled by a military regime dominated by the majority ethnic Burman
group. The State Peace and Development Council, which is headed by Senior
General Than Shwe, has assumed the duties of the government, and at all levels
of the government, ultimate authority rests with military officers. The
government also controls the security forces without civilian oversight.
The Report states that in 2009, the government of Burma "continued its
egregious human rights violations and abuses. . . . including increased
military attacks in ethnic minority regions, such as in the Karen and Shan
The Human Rights Report also states that "the regime continued to abridge
the right of citizens to change their government and committed other severe
human rights abuses."
There were reports of unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces; of
deaths of people held in government custody; of disappearances, rape and
torture. The government frequently detained civic activists without charges.
Citizens were imprisoned for political motives, and prisoners and detainees
were held in harsh and life-threatening conditions.
In short, the government of Burma kept a tight leash on possible criticism of,
or activism against, its policies by restricting its citizens' privacy, freedom
of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. At the same
time, it allowed violent treatment and discrimination against women,
recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and
trafficking in persons. The government took no significant actions to prosecute
or punish those responsible for human rights abuses.
"The principle that each person possesses equal moral value is a simple,
self-evident truth," said Secretary of State Clinton. With the facts in
hand and the goals clear in our heads and our hearts, we recommit ourselves to
continue the hard work of making human rights a human reality."