ICTJ Dispatch: Ruben Carranza on Myanmar



In this edition of ICTJ Dispatch, Ruben Carranza, Director of ICTJ’s Reparations Program, reports on his recent mission to Myanmar. The country, slowly transitioning from a military dictatorship to a civil democracy, has failed to live up to many of the expectations for change and reform. Transitional justice measures, in particular, have failed to materialize, despite some initial steps to hold the government, the military, and elites accountable.

In this interview with ICTJ’s Communications Director Refik Hodzic, Carranza describes his reading of the current situation facing political prisoners, civil society organizations, and ethnic groups in the country; touches on ceasefire discussions between the government and armed groups; and looks ahead to the 2015 elections.

During his time in Myanmar, Carranza met with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) and civil society organizations from ethnic areas. He participated in workshops on transitional justice measures, stressing the importance of their being designed to meet local demands and needs. “It is important when we frame the discussion of transitional justice in Myanmar to not only focus on the violence that has taken place in the country since military dictatorship was established there, but also to look at why violence in happening and why it continues to happen in ethnic areas for example.”

Finally, Carranza relates the difficulty of talking openly and optimistically about justice, reform, and accountability in Myanmar, as he walks listeners through some of the country’s most pressing justice issues: the lack of reparations for freed political prisoners, land confiscation, human rights violations against ethnic minorities, and the military’s continuing hold on power.

Listen to the Full Interview

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PHOTO: Burmese peasants who say their land was misappropriated by the Burmese army march in central Yangon, Myanmar, on June 7, 2014. (Jack Kurtz)