Reforms Make Burma More Free than China, US Group Says

Female prisoners are released from Insein Prison in Rangoon in an amnesty on Oct. 12 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

Female prisoners are released from Insein Prison in Rangoon in an amnesty on Oct. 12 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

Burma’s political rights and civil liberties’ situation continued to significantly improve last year and it has now “surpassed China” in terms of these freedoms, US-based group Freedom House said on Wednesday. It warned however, that “lingering problems” threaten Burma’s ongoing reforms.

In its annual report Freedom in the World 2013, the group said Burma “continued to move forward in 2012 with a process of democratic reform.”

The country’s political and civil freedoms improved “due to the successful participation of opposition parties in legislative by-elections and the continued easing of long-standing restrictions on the media, private discussion, public assembly, civil society and private enterprise,” it said.

“Burma has now surpassed China on both political rights and civil liberties,” according to Freedom House. In China, it said, “Communist Party rulers renewed their commitment in 2012 to censorship, suppression of minorities, and grassroots surveillance.”

Burma, Tunisia and Libya were the three countries in the world that experienced the greatest improvements in freedoms and rights last year, according to the Washington-based think-thank.

African nations Mali, Madagascar and Gambia, were considered the countries that had the worst relative decline in freedom.

Freedom House cautioned however, that Burma’s rapid political, social and economic reforms, which were started under President Thein Sein in mid 2011, “depend more on current government policy than on deep institutional changes.”

It also said Burma continued to be plagued by ethnic minority conflict and inter-communal violence, while “authorities continue to employ repressive crowd-control measures at demonstrations, violate workers’ rights, restrict the operations of NGOs, tolerate land grabbing, and hinder judicial independence.”

Freedom House’s report labels 195 countries as ‘free,’ ‘partly free’ or ‘not free.’ Burma is still in a group of 47 nations considered ‘not free,’ which is defined as “a country where basic political rights are absent and basic civil liberties are denied.”


8 Responses to Reforms Make Burma More Free than China, US Group Says

  1. A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power.

  2. The military has always ruled by whim and by decree. So no change there except they are now playing a more intricate game for a bigger prize- an exponential rise in wealth and power.The more fool you know who, but some knowingly play along so they can share in the ensuing feeding frenzy.

  3. Comparing Burma with communist China? Do the people of China expect freedom? Did the communist leaders of China ever promise the Chinese public with democratic government? Not at all. But, the former Burmese juntas(Ne Win in his last days, Saw Maung, Than Shwe) promised us with multiparty system democratic Union of Burma which we haven’t seen from Thein Sein administration which holds power for the past two years. The government has more non-elected members in Hlutdaws, more officials from USDP and military in the current administration which lacks democratic form. Thein Sein is dragging his feet so slowly and we cannot even tell he is marching toward democratic Union of Burma or military Unitarian Burma. Ethnics are eager to have political dialogue but Thein Sein is offering only peace talk. Peace talk can be just a tactic to waste time. Only political solution will bring the real peace, not just delaying war. So, Thein Sein must talk political dialogue if he sincerely believes in genuine Union of Burma.

  4. Reform from military dictatorship to relatively free in politic- NLD won a small fraction of MP seats, does not affect to the living standard of the people. In fact, despite economy is steadily going up, Burmese people are still very very poor- can not afford for two meals a day. China does not change its politic, but China is richer than some western countries and living standard of Chinese are much better than Burmese. Do we need to reform our politic and policies in line with the need of US? Think twice!

  5. “Burma has now surpassed China on both political rights and civil liberties,” according to Freedom House. In China, it said, “Communist Party rulers renewed their commitment in 2012 to censorship, suppression of minorities, and grassroots surveillance.”

    How can Freedom house say that Burma is better than Communist China in this one isolated dirty poisonous cake from than shwe such as lack of censorship in Burma. Kachin as well as Rohingya are now killed by bama army. Pinglong agreement is put aside by bama military thugs for ethnic right. Who say bama army has no suppression of minorities. Who say bama army has no grassroots surveillance after knowing of capture of monks and people for peaceful demonstration upon copper mining issue. Who is the leader of Free house and where is their office and their educational as well as analytical levels.

    • Dear Free house
      why are communist Chinese richer than Burmese? Why does than shwe need to polish communist Chinese shoes? Why does rich China invest huge amount in poor Burma? Do you want to say that Chinese should come to Burma to learn Bama education to learn the bama military way of democracy or way of corruption or to know how to lie the world or to know how to becoming the world most poorest country like Burma? Do you check or investigate who own the media in Burma ? ha ha ha
      What did happen to the Australian guy owing newspaper in Burma? That guy was short imprisoned for indecent assault to one Burmese lady and breaking bama immigration law. One said fortunately that lady did not come out for witness. However, that guy’s ownership of newspaper was took over by than shwe man. Believe or not.

      • Love your calling them Free house (means booze from any brewery available, not a tied house). Still in the 47 “not free” countries but booze is free flowing anyway. Beer houses everywhere, a booming sector throughout the military era along with brothels. Such a happy country ours.

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