Institution: International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)
Publication Date: December 2015
Keywords: Burma, Conflict, Human Rights and Protection of Civilians, Governance, Peace Processes, Security and Justice
The newly established National League for Democracy (NLD) led Burmese government represents a pivotal step towards democracy and sustainable peace in Burma but the country’s troubled past remains largely un-addressed. This paper calls on the new government to seriously consider taking steps to deal with the violence, repression and human rights violations that occurred in the past and continue to occur today. It points to practical and coordinated steps that the government and civil society could take, such as, truth telling and providing reparations to all victims, including, IDPs, political prisoners and refugees. The paper aims to dispel common misunderstandings about transitional justice; in that it only amounts to revenge and criminal trials. It argues that providing remedies for past violations would demonstrate that the ‘government stands on the side of the victims, not of the abusers’. The paper is relevant to practitioners working with the newly formed government to advocate the importance of addressing past violations, in order to destroy a culture of impunity, consolidate democratic institutions and strengthen the NLD’s legitimacy. This paper is also applicable to those designing and delivering reparation programmes in Burma. The author highlights the importance of programme designers engaging in consultations with the intended beneficiaries to ensure programmes are wholly inclusive.