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Satellites & Human Rights

December 20, 2010

Satellite images document human rights abuses in Burma.


Satellites and human rights…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientific tools can help organizations uncover human rights abuses. For example, researchers compared satellite images of villages in eastern Burma from 2007 and 2009. Their analysis documented changes imposed by the ruling military junta during that time, according to geographer Susan Wolfinbarger, of the AAAS Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights project.

Such as agricultural abandonment, increased military presence, and forced relocations of villagers, moving them from their traditional village areas to more centralized areas to be more easily monitored by the military.

Additional geospatial analyses revealed that a refugee camp along the Thai border with eastern Burma grew by 2.5% during the same time period. Wolfinbarger says satellite imagery is especially helpful when remote terrain and the political situation make conditions dangerous for human rights workers. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.