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Asian Human Rights Commission-BURMA: Dossier of cases from Kachin State released

Asian Human Rights Commission-BURMA: Dossier of cases from Kachin State released

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Published by Jutta Pflueg

Hong Kong, January21, 2013) The Asian Human Rights Commission on Monday released a special dossier of recent cases of arrest, detention, torture and extortion carried out by Burma military and police personnel in Kachin State.

Hong Kong, January21, 2013) The Asian Human Rights Commission on Monday released a special dossier of recent cases of arrest, detention, torture and extortion carried out by Burma military and police personnel in Kachin State.

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Published by: Jutta Pflueg on Jan 23, 2013
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09/17/2013

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SPECIAL DOSSIER:CASES UNDER THE
UNLAWFUL ASSOCIATIONS ACT 1908 
 BROUGHT AGAINST PEOPLEACCUSED OF CONTACT WITHKACHIN INDEPENDENCE ARMYJanuary 2013
distributed by the
Asian Human Rights Commission &Asian Legal Resource CentreHong Kong
 
 ii
January 2013Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Unit 701A, Westley Square48 Hoi Yuen RoadKwun Tong, KLNHong Kong SAR, ChinaTel: +852 2698 6339Fax: +852 2698 6367Email:burma@ahrc.asia,ahrc@ahrc.asia  Website:www.humanrights.asia 
 
 iii
Foreword
This special dossier of 36 cases brought under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act against peopleaccused of contact with the Kachin Independence Army was researched and compiled in 2012 byindependent human rights defenders in Burma who have requested that the Asian Human RightsCommission disseminate the material. We do so willingly, and with firm appreciation for thework that these human rights defenders have undertaken in gathering the material, and preparingit in both English and Burmese. Out of respect for them and their effort, we have made onlyminor changes to the original text as prepared by them. We hope that readers will find that any peculiarities in usage will be more than made up for by the authenticity of the voices that comeout in these accounts; an authenticity that we have decided deliberately not to editorialise throughrevisions and reorganisation of the contents as we received them.At a time that the conflict in Kachin State between the Kachin Independence Army and Burmaarmed forces is only getting worse, this dossier marks an important contribution to documentationon human rights abuses in the region, because it signals very sharply the intersection between war and law, between violence in armed combat and violence in interrogation, in the use of tortureand other techniques against persons who have been branded enemies of the state. Indeed, thisaspect of such events, be they in Burma or in other parts of Asia, is often overlooked, andtherefore is one deserving some comment in the preliminary remarks to this dossier.The use of coercive law for the purposes of identification and elimination of enemies is a peculiar type of legal practice and one that is not at all consistent with the practice of criminal lawordinarily. In the usual state of affairs, an individual is arrested and prosecuted for an allegedcriminal act in which he, or perhaps he and some others, jointly participated. The orientation of the law is throughout situated after the fact of the offence. The accused have no prior status, no particular identity before the offence is committed. Their arrest follows the act of purportedcriminality.The situation is not at all the same when we consider cases brought under instruments like the1908 Unlawful Associations Act, which we have appended to the foreword of this dossier.Although the act purports to respond to alleged violations of law, alleged criminal acts, in factassumes a prior political relationship with the persons who are prosecuted under its auspices— one that is oriented not towards acts but towards identities. The problem that this act was from the beginning designed to deal with was not the problem of the criminal but the problem of theinternal enemy. Its object is to criminalise the internal enemy: in other words, to establish a nexus between war and law through identification of a subset of the population.When a piece of legislation has as its foremost purpose the identification and criminalisation of enemies, its primary concern is no longer with the individual, or the individual crime. Theinternal enemy is always the public enemy. And the public enemy is always a collective enemy.Therefore, the problem that such legislation is designed to address is one of groups of people, notindividuals. And groups of people are necessarily identified prior to any alleged criminal acts thatthey do or do not commit. They are identified by virtue of, for instance, their affiliation (what theact purports to target specifically), their ethnicity, their language, their religion or otherwise.Whatever the identifying criteria, once identified, the group itself constitutes a latent criminal body, irrespective of what its individual members do or do not do. In short, the legislating of internal enemies as in the case of the Unlawful Associations Act completely reverses the ordinaryrelationship between law and the individual, between the notion of an offence and the rights of citizens. It inverts the idea that criminality arises as a consequence of a crime, and inserts thenotion of criminality into the identification of the collective, prior to any crime being committed.

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