The Background
Burma is home to 47 million people, but their lives are brutally controlled by a dictatorial military regime. Since the military-backed Burma Socialist Programme Party took control in 1962, the freedom and human rights of Burma's people have been severely compromised.

In August 1988 during a student-led protest the Burmese army opened fire into the crowd killing as many as 5000 people. Many more were imprisoned. Amnesty International estimates that around 1500 prisoners are still kept under harsh conditions in Burma's jails. The military responded to the 1988 protests by creating a new regime, 'The State Law and Order Restoration Council' (later renamed The State Peace and Development Council). So-called 'free' elections were held in May 1990. Despite the opposition party winning 82% of the vote, the junta discounted the result, arresting new MPs, while many others fled into exile.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's democratically elected leader, has been under house arrest for for 13 years. In 2009, she was accused by the military regime of breaking the terms of her imprisonment when an
uninvited visitor arrived at her compound. She was subsequently sentenced to a further 18 months of house arrest. The junta's generals continue to imprison, torture and intimidate all potential opposition. Protests by monks and civilians in September 2007 were brutally crushed by the army, freedom of speech is curtailed, and brutal attacks on Burma's ethnic minorities, like Karen people, are prevalent.

For more information about the situation in Burma, please see  The Burma Campaign UK.