Prospects for Justice in Myanmar: New Political Opportunities for Addressing Violations?

27 November 2016

Myanmar’s transition to democratic rule continues to move slowly forward.

In the years immediately before the 2015 election, there was a palpable sense of waiting among those working in Burmese civil society. Many of their plans depended on one or two critical developments to take hold: the NLD coming to power and the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement. Now, both long-hoped-for events have happened, and Myanmar’s transition to democratic rule continues to move slowly forward.

Transitional justice has always been one of the topics on reserve for later discussion—to be talked about once there was peace, once there was a new government, once there was constitutional reform. Many in civil society who have been seeking justice for past violations, often in the form of reparations for the most vulnerable victims, have been waiting for an NLD-led government in order to advocate for their proposals.

The presence of former political prisoners in positions of government, including dozens in Parliament, has raised expectations that some sort of eff ort to address past violations, if only through official acknowledgments, would be possible at the national level. Unfortunately, the situation is not so clear-cut. Several factors stand in the way of pursuing a comprehensive justice response in the current context.

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