Burma

Ongoing slave liberation trips are being planned in the coming months both in the Karen and Shan states of Myanmar Burma, where slave labor has become a government standard of the military Junta known as the “SPDC.” Join with us in helping the shelters and activists who are finding and retrieving the captives. Now is the time to get behind the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, and demand that the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights be upheld.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the State Department’s 2012 “Trafficking in Persons” report (www.state.gov/j/tip), which gives a detailed account of slavery, sex trafficking and forced labor for 186 countries around the world.

“Victims of modern slavery are women and men, girls and boys, and their stories remind us of what kind of inhumane treatment we are still capable of as human beings,” Clinton said.

Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. coordinator for human trafficking issues, said the 2012 report revealed some small signs of progress but stressed that the problem remained huge with estimates of between 21-27 million people in forced servitude around the world.

Identification of victims – key to enforcing anti-trafficking laws – had risen to 42,291, an increase of 28 percent over 2011, while convictions were also up by about 10 percent at 3,969, CdeBaca said.

“We do think that we are seeing some real positive movement as far as those numbers are concerned,” CdeBaca told a news briefing.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, saw its ranking improve, moving from the lowest “tier three” alongside countries such as North Korea, Syria and Yemen, up onto a watch list of countries with slightly better records.

The United States is bound by law to oppose most assistance to “tier three” countries by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Myanmar’s military-dominated government has over the past year enacted rapid reforms, including freeing hundreds of political prisoners, signing peace deals with ethnic minority rebel groups and holding by-elections dominated by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party.

The U.S. report did note a range of problems remain in Myanmar, including forced labor, sex trafficking and the recruitment of child soldiers.

But it also noted new steps to fight human trafficking, including victim-protection laws, a hotline to report abuses, and a pledge to end state-sponsored forced labor by 2015, which prompted the International Labor Organization (ILO) this month to lift punitive restrictions imposed on the country more than a decade ago.

“What we’ve seen over the last year is that the government in Burma has taken a number of significant and frankly unprecedented steps in advancing these reforms,” CdeBaca said.