Burma Campaign UK today called on the European Union to stop training Burma’s military-controlled police force.
On Tuesday 12th February the military-controlled Burmese police force opened fire on protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas, injuring more than 20 people. In the previous few days, they had also arrested and charged more than 50 peaceful protesters. They could now face prison sentences despite assurances charges would be dropped.
The police force committing these human rights violations is trained by the European Union (EU), which is spending 30 million euros (£26m pounds, or $34m dollars) of aid money on the training. Money which could instead be helping the victims of human rights violations by the military.
Protests have been taking place in Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State, against a new statue being erected of Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, who led Burma’s independence movement. He had made a commitment to ethnic people promising them autonomy and the right to leave Burma at a later date if their rights were not respected. It was a commitment the Burmese government did not keep after Aung San was assassinated. Instead, people in many ethnic states have suffered decades of conflict and human rights violations at the hands of the Burmese military.
Burma’s police force are not under the control of the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Instead, they are controlled by the military, which is guilty of genocide. In effect, the police are part of the military.
The EU-trained police force also framed and arrested Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists investigating a massacre of Rohingya villages by the Burmese military. The Burmese military have been accused by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The argument that human rights violations by the military controlled police force are a reason why the training is needed is deeply flawed. By that standard, they would also be training military and security forces in countries such as Syria, Iran and North Korea.
“The EU is training part of a genocidal institution and using aid money to do it,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “On the one hand the EU is saying it condemns human rights violations by the military, and on the other it is spending thirty-four million dollars training their police force. Even aside from the moral arguments against training the military controlled police force, the training is clearly not working and is throwing aid money down the drain.”
Burma Campaign UK is asking is supporters and the public to email the EU and organisations taking part in the training calling on them to stop the training. The action can be taken here.