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US Officials Concern over Burma's Threat to Immediate Neighboring Countries

As Burma has been stricken by human rights abuses, human trafficking, drug trade, HIV/AIDS and other problems, US officials has expressed concern over its threat to the neighboring countries such as C
( [email protected] ) Feb 07, 2006 08:55 PM EST

As Burma has been stricken by human rights abuses, human trafficking, drug trade, HIV/AIDS and other problems, US officials has expressed concern over its threat to the neighboring countries such as China.

On Feb. 7, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill made the comment as speaking before the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee and the Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Subcommittee of the House Committee on International Relations in Washington, according to Reuters.

"The current regime's xenophobic, ever more irrational policies are driving the country relentlessly downhill in a manner that increasingly harms and threatens Burma's neighbors and the broader region," Hill warned.

Currently, Burma is under the regime of military junta, which has severely violated the international human rights standard. In separate testimony, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Barry Lowenkron accused Burma of its practice of forced labor, trafficking in persons, the use of child soldiers and religious discrimination, sources say.

Lowenkron added, according to previous reports, forced labor is used by Burma military junta in regions with ethnic and religious minorities. The military has also persecuted Muslim and Christian communities in Burma's western China state.

Furthermore, Hill complained about the lack of health education under the ruling military and that has led to a rising trend in certain deadly diseases. HIV/AIDS infections, tuberculosis and malaria are growing in high rate, according to Reuters.

"Burma remains the world's second-largest producer of opium, and production of amphetamine-type stimulants is on the rise," he said, adding 90 percent of the heroin in Southeast Asia comes from Burma.

Drugs and HIV/AIDS are "spread" to the neighboring countries of Burma through millions of refugees and migrants. China is one of the concerned countries.

"Chinese officials, while yet to speak out publicly about the situation in Burma, have privately noted their concerns, and we are engaged in an active dialogue with them," Hill told Reuters.

"Increasingly, other governments, along with parliamentarians and the media, understand that the situation in Burma must change, and they are starting to speak out," Hill continued, calling on pressure from the international community on Burma to push for a change.