Burma is ruled by one of the world's worst regimes, a military dictatorship which is guilty of every possible human rights violation. In 1990, elections were held and overwhelmingly won by the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The junta, now known as the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), rejected the results and intensified its grip on power. The winners of the elections were either imprisoned or exiled. Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest has ended, but over 1,200 political prisoners are in jail, subjected to the worst forms of torture. Burma has the highest number of forcibly conscripted child soldiers in the world, estimated to be 70,000.
In addition to these violations, the military regime is carrying out crimes against humanity against the ethnic nationality groups, particularly the Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon in eastern Burma, the Chin, Arakan and Rohingya in western Burma, and the Kachin in northern Burma. These crimes, which in some areas amount to ethnic cleansing and potentially attempted genocide, include: the widespread, systematic use of rape, forced labor, forced relocation of villages, use of human minesweepers, torture and killings. Since 1996, over 3,000 villages in eastern Burma alone have been destroyed by the military, and over a million people internally displaced.
CSW is concerned about all these issues, and visits Burma's border areas regularly. CSW works with all the ethnic nationality groups, but has particular and extensive experience of the situation in Karen, Karenni, Shan, Chin and Kachin areas. CSW has highlighted the persecution of Christians in Burma and wider violations of religious freedom, in a report published in 2007 called Carrying the Cross: The Military Regime's Campaign of Restriction, Discrimination and Persecution against Christians in Burma.