While we acknowledge that positive steps have been taken by the government in Burma/Myanmar, we caution that reforms have not led to progress towards national reconciliation. Nor have they sought to stem the ongoing human rights abuses and impunity, which continue to be serious problems in the country. A continued period of formal, albeit suspended, sanctions is a necessary safeguard to ensuring that reforms reach their intended ends.
In this context, it is essential to note that over 200 political prisoners remain imprisoned and the conflict in Kachin and the status and welfare of the Rohingyas has worsened because of the actions and omissions of the Government of Myanmar. Of great concern is that the anti-Muslim aspect of discrimination against Rohingya has continuously intensified and recently led to fatal violence against Muslim communities in central Burma/Myanmar.
First, hundreds of political prisoners continue to be detained arbitrarily and the majority of those who have been freed have been released provisionally and are subject to restrictions and conditions on their freedom, including on travel and future political activity. Following his visit to Burma/Myanmar in February 2013, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar not only highlighted the ongoing detention of political prisoners, but also the use of torture against some detainees.
Although high-profile political prisoners, such as members of 88 Generation Students have been released and given passports, lesser-known prisoners remain imprisoned or released and subject to restrictions. For example, U Gambira (former prisoner of conscience and a leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance), who needs to travel abroad to receive medical treatment for illnesses and injuries caused by torture in detention, has not been allowed to leave the country. While the President has announced the formation of a committee to review the status of remaining political prisoners, like many recent reforms, the formation of this committee and its mandate continue to lack transparency and credibility.