Monday, July 13, 2020


Article Index


Ethnic minorities constitute an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the population, and the seven ethnic minority states make up approximately 60 percent of the national territory. Wide-ranging governmental and societal discrimination against minorities persisted. Tension between the government army and ethnic populations remained high; the army stationed forces in some ethnic groups' areas and controlled certain cities, towns, and highways. Abuses included reported killings, beatings, torture, forced labor, forced relocations, and rapes of members of ethnic groups by government soldiers. Some armed ethnic groups also committed abuses (see sections 1.g. and 2.d.).

At year's end the government had reached preliminary cease-fire agreements with three armed ethnic groups: the United Wa State Army, the National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Shan State Army-South. Fighting continued in Karen, Kachin, Shan, and Mon states (see sections 1 .g. and 2.d.).

Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State were discriminated against because of their ethnicity. Most faced severe restrictions on their ability to travel, engage in economic activity, obtain an education, and register births, deaths, and marriages (see section 2.d.).

Ethnic minority groups generally used their own languages at home. However, throughout all parts of the country controlled by the government, including ethnic minority areas, Burmese remained the mandatory language of instruction in state schools, and teaching in local languages was not offered. In ethnic minority areas most primary and secondary state schools did not offer instruction in the local ethnic minority language. There were very few domestic publications in indigenous minority languages. The government tightly controlled the limited number of Buddhist monastery-based schools, Christian seminaries, and Muslim madrassahs.

During the year there were several reports of ethnic villages being displaced for economic development, such as those around the Myitsone Dam project-- subsequently suspended by presidential order--in Kachin State.

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law