Burma has undergone significant change since national elections were held in late 2010, and the first civilian government for decades was formed. In May 2012 our researchers entered the country for the first time in nine years. They returned with reports of a society that has set out on the road to human rights reform, but that still has a long way to go.
The government has carried out a series of political and economic reforms including releasing political prisoners, slightly relaxing media censorship, passing an improved labour law and establishing the National Human Rights Commission. Peaceful protest is now allowed under certain conditions.
In April 2012, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi - who has spent most of the last 24 years under house arrest - was elected as a member of the Burmese Parliament.
Human rights abuses continue, mainly in ethnic minority areas, and impunity for perpetrators is written into law. Restrictions on freedom of religion and belief continue and hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars.
- Read our researchers' report from their recent visit
- Read about Burma in our yearly report on human rights
Your signatures work! On 3 July 2012 prisoners of conscience Khun Kawrio (pictured), Ko Aye Aung and Thant Zaw were released as part of a wider prisoner Amnesty including approximately 18 - 22 political prisoners. On release, Khun Kawrio thanked everybody that has supported him:
"Thank you all so much, I will keep working for democracy and human rights development in Burma and in the Kayan region. I hope to meet you all personally some time; I want to send best regards to you all."
U Myint Aye says thank you On 19 November 2012 prisoner of conscience U Myint Aye was released. Just days later we met up with him to give him your messages of support and show him the many photos you contributed to our petition calling for his freedom. He asked us to send his thanks to all of you that took the time to demand his release. Thank you.
We are delighted by these releases but at least 400 political prisoners remain behind bars. Many thanks to the over 16,000 of you that signed our petition calling for their release. The petition is now closed and we will be delivering it to the Burmese authorities soon. We'll keep you posted with any updates.
Reporting from the ground
In May 2012 our researchers entered the country for the first time since 2003, giving them the opportunity to assess the impact of changes made since the 2010 elections. While there they met with a wide range of people, including former political prisoners and the families of those still behind bars.
Their initial report from the trip describes Burma today as place in which human rights improving, but where vital changes still need to be made.
Aung San Suu Kyi comes to the UK!
On Monday 18 June, we were delighted to deliver Aung San Suu Kyi's Amnesty Ambassador of Conscience award in Dublin. She was on her way to her first visit to the UK in 24 years - most of which was spent under house arrest.
As one of the most famous prisoners of conscience in the world Aung San Suu Kyi holds a special place in the hearts of Amnesty supporters, many of whom have campaigned for her freedom for decades. But, as Aung San Suu Kyi is the first to point out, we must not forget those who remain behind bars in her home country for standing up, as she did, for freedom in Burma.
Burma Through the Ages
Watch Waihnin's story
Waihnin is a Burmese student in London. Her father, a former political prisioner, is co-founder of the '88 Generation Students Group and was serving a 65-year sentence at the time of recording. He had been arrested for his involvement in the 2007 pro-democracy demonstrations. Here Waihnin talks about life in Burma and why she had to leave.
Reports and further information
- The repression of ethnic minority activists in Myanmar (Burma) 16 February 2010
- Burma (Myanmar): Crimes against humanity in Eastern Myanmar 5 June 2008