Here are your In-Class Case Studies.
1: Case Study – BURMA:
Shoot On Sight: The Ongoing Military Junta Offensive in Eastern Burma
Other videos from our partner in Burma:
Entrenched Abuse: Forced Labor in Burma,
Always on the Run: Internally Displaced People in Karen State,
Season of Fear: Internally Displaced People in Burma Call for International Action
Human Rights Issue: Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Refugees
Partner: Burma Issues
Background on the Problem: Burma’s military junta, known as the State Police and Development Council (SPDC), seeks to assert absolute control over ethnic minority border areas and uses relocation, forced labor, torture and arbitrary execution to systematically destroy the capacity of rural civilians to live independently. As a consequence Burma has the worst internal displacement crisis in Asia, and is gripped by a silent humanitarian crisis following thirty years of brutal military campaigns.
Over 3000 villages have been destroyed or forcibly abandoned in the past decade – an average of almost one a day. Over half a million people have been compelled to leave their homes and become internally displaced persons (IDPs), living homeless in forests, temporary settlements, or government-controlled relocation sites after attacks by the military. Lacking anything but the most minimal humanitarian aid, denied the stability of a home and livelihood (not to mention essential services like medical facilities and education), they are never at peace. A million more people live as refugees and undocumented migrants in neighboring countries.
Target Audiences: Burma Issues’ recent videos have targeted international audience including UN representatives, key donors supporting aid to refugees and IDPs, officials and parliamentarians from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, the US, the UK and other foreign countries, as well as activist and lobbying groups and the mass media.
Advocacy Goals of Videos: Burma Issues aims to make the situation facing IDPs and rural populations in Burma a critical issue on the international agenda — alongside discussions of political prisoners and the nation’s democracy movement — and to increase appropriate aid and support to vulnerable IDP populations. Most recently, Season of Fear, produced in 2005, presses for action by the United Nations Security Council — the only UN body with the authority to compel international action — to support an immediate end to attacks on civilians and adequate humanitarian aid. Shoot on Sight, the follow-up to Season of Fear – produced in 2006 – complements and builds on that video and the lessons learned in advocacy with that video. It provides arguments in support of the movement within ASEAN pushing for a tougher regional stance on Burma.
Distribution Strategy: The videos have been used in lobbying at the UN for Security Council action, and in parallel briefings at the UN Human Rights Commission and the ILO, presented at US Congressional and UK Houses of Parliament briefings, key donor conferences and at press launches at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, distributed to individual policy-makers, and used by grassroots activists in their campaigns for action. Typically they are shown alongside speakers who provide clear guidance on what to do, and are used to draw attendees into the day-to-day realities of life as faced by displaced civilians and to provide the calls for action voiced by the IDPs themselves. Burma Issues’ latest video, Shoot on Sight was used in lobbying and activism by advocates in Asia during the ASEAN Civil Society Parallel Summit in December 2006, at a public forum in Indonesia and screened for parliamentarians from across the world attending the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Bali in 2007.
Burma Issues’ footage is also leveraged for broader press use, where possible in targeted support of advocacy. Images and testimonies from civilians on the ground have been screened on CNN, PBS in the USA, Channel 4 in the UK, on Canada’s “The National” evening news broadcast as well as on BBC’s premier current affairs program “Newsnight.” During the recent events inside Burma, Shoot on Sight on YouTube was repeatedly cited by bloggers as evidence of the broader pattern of abuse in Burma, and received over a 250,000 hits, making it one of the most-watched videos on Burma.
In addition, the videos have been used in support of multiple e-action pushes for Security Council action and for renewal of the sanctions on the SPDC imposed by the US government.
Advocacy Results: From 2002 to 2007, WITNESS worked with Burma Issues to support the movement to internationalize the systematic repression of civilians by Burma’s military government, and to place footage documenting that issue in front of activists and government officials worldwide. The rising profile of this crisis helped lead to the introduction of a first-ever resolution at the UN Security Council on Burma, as well as significant increases in funding for displaced civilians from the US as well as the UK.
December 16, 2005 marked the first-ever UN Security Council briefing to consider the situation in Burma, a pivotal moment in the campaign as the US and other nations pushed for more international action, and finally in September 2006 Burma was placed on the permanent agenda of the UN Security Council. These movements followed extensive activist mobilization and the release of a report from Vaclav Havel and Desmond Tutu demonstrating that Burma is a threat to regional security. One criterion for the report’s call to action is the massive level of internal displacement.
The videos were also used to support pushes for increased funding in the US and the UK, including screenings and individual distribution of DVDs to key Congresspeople in the US in advance of the review of a significant rise in funding. Footage from Burma Issues was also used to buttress a critical BBC “Newsnight” item in June 2006 that criticized the current Labor administration in the UK for its minimal levels of funding, and helped push the government to conduct an official review that, in July 2007, recommended a four-fold increase in aid to internally displaced persons.
The campaign for UN Security Council action continued throughout 2006, culminating in September when the Security Council placed Burma on its permanent agenda for the first time ever. Although a resolution proposed by the USA was vetoed by China and Russia in January 2007, Burma is now firmly on the international agenda, and the concerns of internally displaced people in Burma are being responded to with increased attention and funding. Burma Issues and its allies continue to press for action on the treatment of IDPs in Burma, calling on the Security Council to move beyond words and into action by issuing a resolution on the military junta’s abuses. Burma Issues is also focusing attention on supporting the movement for change in the region – distributing Shoot on Sight to regional allies, and translating it into key regional languages including Indonesian and Japanese.
2: Case Study – RWANDA (in the DRC):
While thousands of Rwandan refugees have been repatriated to their home country in recent years, about 65,500 remain in protracted displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and throughout the region.
A first wave of displacement from Rwanda started in 1962 as a result of post-independence power struggle between the Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority, leading to the exile of primarily Tutsi Rwandan refugees. A new wave of displacement took place in the early nineties during the Rwandan civil war that culminated in the 1994 genocide of Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The genocide was ended when the Rwandan Patriotic Front, comprised primarily of Tutsi exiles based in Uganda, seized the capital. In the aftermath, more than two million Rwandans left the country for fear of violent reprisals. Most of them fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to Tanzania. Failure to comply with the exclusion clauses created a major problem in responding to the refugee crisis as refugee camps were used as shelters, recruitment grounds and hiding places for genocidaires and Hutu militias, which led several humanitarian organisations to withdraw their support. The presence of these groups close to the Rwandan border constituted a security threat to the Rwandan government, which contributed to its active involvement in the DRC’s complex civil war.
While UNHCR has assisted with the repatriation of tens of thousands Rwandans in recent years, many hesitate to return home for fear of unfairly being labelled genocidaires, some fearing violence or even death as a result of such suspicions. Currently, UNHCR and several host states are considering invoking the ‘cessation clause’ of the 1951 Convention at the end of 2011, which would make Rwandan exiles liable to deportation. Such considerations have spurred widespread protests by activists who emphasise that many who would be affected by cessation have fled human rights abuses and political repression under the current Rwandan regime, and would be at risk when returned to Rwanda.
Adelman, H. ‘The Use and Abuse of Refugees in Zaire, April 1996-March 1997’, Stanford University, n.d.
Blomqvist, U. (1995) ‘Community participation in a refugee emergency: focusing on community mobilisation, women, and youth – a report from the Rwandan camps in the Kagera Region of Tanzania’, Rädda Barnen.
Connelly, M. (1997) ‘Refugees or hostages?’
FAHAMU (2011) ‘Rwanda: Cessation of Refugee Status is Unwarranted’.
International Refugee Rights Initiative (2010) ‘A Dangerous Impasse: Rwandan Refugees in Uganda’, Citizenship and Displacement in the Great Lakes Region Working Paper No. 4.
Lung’aho, M. S., Clause, B. and Butera, F. (1996) ‘Rapid assessment of infant feeding practices in two Rwandan refugee camps’, Wellstart International.
Reynolds, R. (1994) ‘Development in a refugee situation: the case of Rwandan refugees in Northern Tanzania’.
Stephenson, P. and Reynolds, R. (1995) ‘Development in a refugee situation: Musuhura Hill Rwandan refugee camp one year on’.
Murison, J. (2003) ‘FMO Research Guide: Rwanda’.
‘FMO Resource Summary: Great Lakes Region’.
‘FMO Resource Summary: Rwanda’.
Halvorsen, K., ‘Protection and Humanitarian Assistance in the Refugee Camps in Zaire: The Problem of Security’, in Howard Adelman and Astri Suhrke (eds.) (1999) The Path of a Genocide: The Rwanda Crisis from Uganda to Zaire, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (2002) ‘Refugees, Rebels and The Quest for Justice’, New York.
Association Africaine de défense des Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO)
Centre des Droits de l’Homme et du droit humanitaire (CDH)
Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme au Rwanda (CLADHO)
Ligue des Droits de la Personne dans la Région des Grands Lacs (LDGL)
3: Case Study – BOSNIANS and CROATIANS:
Sixteen years after the Dayton Peace Agreement ended the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 18,000 Bosnian refugees and 47,000 Croatian refugees continue living in Serbia. In 2010, a repatriation agreement between Croatia and Serbia was announced, and substantial numbers of Croatian and Bosnian refugees have integrated in their host communities in Serbia in recent years. Tens of thousands of Croatian refugees have moreover returned to Croatia.
In the early 1990s, a time of economic crisis and political turmoil, ethnic tensions that had been rising in the former Yugoslavia since the 1980s escalated and a series of brutal wars ensued. Widespread ethnic cleansing and violence against civilians led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and massive displacement. When the wars came to an end in 1995, more than 2 million people had been displaced, and formerly ethnically diverse areas had been segregated. The agreement laid out the rights of those displaced by conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, enabling them to return to their houses and have their property restored to them, or to be compensated where that was impossible. However, many of those displaced chose to remain in or return to areas in which their ethnicity constituted the majority.
While most refugees living in Serbia today live in private accommodation, a few thousand – including vulnerable people – continue to live in poor conditions in collective centres. A regional initiative to secure Durable Solutions for Refugees and IDPs from the 1991-1995 conflicts in the Western Balkans (also known as the ‘Sarajevo Process’) is underway, and a donors conference is expected to be convened in 2012. The process will aim at ending the wartime legacy of displacement and according to current planning, will probably be implemented over a five year period.
Allen, R., Li Rosi, A. and Skeie, M. (2010) ‘Should I stay or should I go? A review of UNHCR’s response to the protracted refugee situation in Serbia and Croatia’, UNHCR.
Ambroso, G. (2006) ‘The Balkans at a crossroads: Progress and challenges in finding durable solutions for refugees and displaced persons from the wars in the former Yugoslavia’, New Issues in Refugee ResearchNo. 133, UNHCR.
Mooney, E. and Hussain, N. (2009) ‘Unfinished Business: IDPs in Bosnia and Herzegovina,’ Forced Migration Review No. 33.
Teržan, M. and Kladarin, D. (2009) ‘Local Integration for Refugees in Serbia,’ Forced Migration Review No. 33.
UNHCR (2012) ‘UNHCR country operations profile – Serbia(and Kosovo: SC Res. 1244)’.
UNHCR briefing notes (2010) ‘UNHCR welcomes Serbia-Croatia agreement on refugee and return issues’.
UNHCR (2009) ‘Supplementary Appeal: UNHCR Supplementary Programme for Comprehensive Solutions for the Protracted Refugee Situation in Serbia’.
UNHCR news stories (2009) ‘High Commissioner Guterres urges swift end to displacement chapter in Western Balkans’.
Red Cross Society
Novi Sad Humanitarian Centre
Humanitarian Law Centre
Grupa 484 = Group 484
Udruga Mi / Association Mi
Društvo za psihološku pomoæ (DPP) / Society for Psychological Assistance
Coalition for Work with Psychotrauma And Peace (CWWPP)
Suncokret (Sunflower) Centre for Grassroots Relief Work
Institute for Migration & Ethnic Studies