(Zin Linn/ Asian Correspondent) Thailand-based ND-Burma (Network for Human Rights Documentation - Burma) has today (September 1, 2010) revealed an insightful account of the military regime's corrupt and brutal system of taxation and its devastating impacts on the people of Burma at a press conference held at FCCT (Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand) in Bangkok.
The report entitled The Hidden Impact of Burma's Arbitrary and Corrupt Taxation, which has a 'compelling' record of the arbitrary and inhuman collection of money, land, goods, and labour from the ordinary citizens of Burma between 2008 and 2010, exposes the military junta's use of taxation as another means of oppression.
Dr Alison Vicary, researcher at Burma Economic Watch, and ND-Burma board members, Mr Han Gyi and Ms Cheery Zahau, presented the findings of the new report and answered questions relating to arbitrary taxation, corruption and extortion in Burma and the far-reaching consequences of these abusive practices.
Ms. Cheery Zahau of Chin Human Rights Organization said the taxation system in Burma has a lack of accountability and transparency towards the people. The people have to pay the price but don't know how much, where and why they have to pay. They also don't realize forced labor and land confiscation are forms of taxation.
She also explained the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) forced the people to buy their fundraising T-shirts, calendars, postcards and tickets for stage-shows. Now, the USDA has turned into the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) which is the richest and strongest party in the upcoming polls. So, while other democratic parties have been facing big financial problems to start their election campaign, the USDP has the benefit of illegal fundraising money received through unofficial taxation.
In this new report, ND Burma, a 13-member human rights documentation organization made an effort to inform the international community about the abusive taxation practices committed by the regime. While the majority of Burma's people live in hopeless poverty, the military regime and its cronies continue to profit, with over 50 percent of the national budget spent on the military, compared to the scanty provisions in health and social care. ND Burma's research revealed that people are forced to hand over large proportions of their income and property in official and unofficial taxes leaving more and more people struggling to survive.
ND-Burma, which was established with 13 member organizations, formed in 2003 to provide a way for Burma human rights organizations to collaborate on the human rights documentation process. It collectively seeks the truth of what communities in Burma have endured to defy the regime’s power through up to date advocacy. The 13 member organizations have put in order for justice and accountability measures in a potential transition.