State Induced Violence and Poverty in Burma

Type Report
Title State Induced Violence and Poverty in Burma
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
Publisher International Labour Organization
City Geneva
We are guided in our research by a human rights approach to poverty (Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights, September 2002), defined as an ‘extreme
form of deprivation’. Poverty is the denial of resources, economic, social and
political power that keeps the people of Burma in poverty. Our research aims to
investigate increasing poverty and study the reasons for unsustainable livelihoods in
Burma. We argue systemic long-term violations of farmer rights and acts of State
violence on citizens perpetuate poverty. Low levels of social capital, widespread
military conflict and public sector corruption create and sustain poverty.
The objective of this research paper is to describe specific ways in which the State
Peace and Development Council (SPDC) deprives the people of Burma of their land
and livelihood. Confiscation of land, labour, crops and capital; destruction of person
and property; forced labour; looting and expropriation of food and possessions;
forced sale of crops to the military; extortion of money through official and
unofficial taxes and levies; forced relocation and other abuses by the State.
Burma has been ruled for more than 40 years by successive military regimes. The
military sees itself as the central institution of the State dedicated to safeguarding
the unity and integrity of the nation. This un-elected, illegitimate role as national
saviour is stated in the army’s three national causes: Non-disintegration of the
union; Non-disintegration of national solidarity; Consolidation of national
solidarity. The army maintains a tight grip on cultural, social, religious and
economic affairs in Burma. Culture, religion, and nationalism are exploited by the
State military elites who act to suppress wages and workers.

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