UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion still needed’ - Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and FIDH

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS -

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and FIDH have call on all UN mem­ber states to rec­og­nize the con­tin­ued need for a res­o­lu­tion on the sit­u­a­tion of hu­man rights in Myan­mar at the 70th ses­sion of the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly (UNGA), in light of the on­go­ing hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions tak­ing place in the coun­try, the two or­gan­i­sa­tions said in a joint state­ment on 16 Novem­ber.

The state­ment con­tin­ued “While we note gen­eral elec­tions car­ried out on 8 Novem­ber were largely peace­ful, we re­main se­ri­ously con­cerned about the wider hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Myan­mar. Dur­ing 2015, the Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties failed to de­liver on hu­man rights re­forms and to im­ple­ment most rec­om­men­da­tions in pre­vi­ous UNGA res­o­lu­tions, in­clud­ing the 2014 UN Res­o­lu­tion 69/248. Hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, in par­tic­u­lar of the right to free­dom from dis­crim­i­na­tion, free­dom from ar­bi­trary de­ten­tion and free­dom of ex­pres­sion, as­so­ci­a­tion and peace­ful as­sem­bly have con­tin­ued. This sit­u­a­tion un­der­scores the need for sus­tained in­ter­na­tional en­gage­ment, in­clud­ing through the adop­tion of a strong UNGA res­o­lu­tion to re­mind the Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties of their obli­ga­tion to end hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. Fail­ure to reach a con­sen­sus and adopt the res­o­lu­tion would send the mes­sage that se­ri­ous hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions can con­tinue unchecked.

In Rakhine State, for in­stance, the au­thor­i­ties have not only failed to im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions of last year’s UNGA res­o­lu­tion which re­it­er­ated its “se­ri­ous con­cern” about the sit­u­a­tion of the Ro­hingya, they have taken mea­sures that fur­ther ce­mented this com­mu­nity’s ex­clu­sion. This fail­ure, amongst oth­ers, prompted the “boat cri­sis” in May this year, which saw thou­sands of peo­ple – mainly Ro­hingya flee­ing Myan­mar – stranded at sea.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, Pres­i­dent Thein Sein re­voked all Tem­po­rary Reg­is­tra­tion Cards (TRCs) – known as “white cards” – leav­ing many Ro­hingya with­out any form of iden­tity doc­u­ment and ef­fec­tively bar­ring them from be­ing able to vote in the Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tions. Adding to their po­lit­i­cal dis­en­fran­chise­ment, al­most all Ro­hingya can­di­dates who ap­plied to con­test the elec­tions were dis­qual­i­fied on dis­crim­i­na­tory cit­i­zen­ship grounds. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion should ring alarm bells with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, as it in­di­cates that the au­thor­i­ties are not com­mit­ted to ad­dress­ing the sit­u­a­tion of the Ro­hingya and of other Mus­lims in Myan­mar in a way that re­spects their dig­nity and hu­man rights.

Para­graph 7 of the 2014 UNGA res­o­lu­tion 69/248 urged the gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar to “ac­cel­er­ate its ef­forts to ad­dress dis­crim­i­na­tion, hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, violence [and] hate speech”. And yet, this year has seen an alarm­ing rise in ad­vo­cacy of ha­tred and in­cite­ment to dis­crim­i­na­tion against non-Bud­dhists, and in par­tic­u­lar Mus­lims, by ex­trem­ist Bud­dhist na­tion­al­ist groups who have grown in power and in­flu­ence. Such groups have gone un­chal­lenged by the gov­ern­ment. On the con­trary, those who have spo­ken out against them have faced re­tal­i­a­tion from both state and non-state ac­tors, in­clud­ing threats, ha­rass­ment, and, in some cases, even ar­rest, pros­e­cu­tion and im­pris­on­ment. In ad­di­tion, the au­thor­i­ties have taken steps to en­trench dis­crim­i­na­tion in law. In 2015, the Par­lia­ment adopted four laws aimed at “pro­tect­ing race and re­li­gion” orig­i­nally pro­posed by ex­trem­ist Bud­dhist na­tion­al­ist groups, later sub­mit­ted for con­sid­er­a­tion by the Pres­i­dent. Many pro­vi­sions in th­ese laws dis­crim­i­nate on mul­ti­ple grounds, in­clud­ing gen­der, re­li­gion and mar­i­tal sta­tus.

Para­graph 4 of the 2014 UNGA res­o­lu­tion wel­comed the release of pris­on­ers of con­science and stressed “the im­por­tant role of the po­lit­i­cal prisoner re­view com­mit­tee”, en­cour­ag­ing its con­tin­u­a­tion. Al­though the prisoner re­view com­mit­tee was re­con­sti­tuted in Jan­uary 2015, to date no in­forma- tion has been made avail­able as to its man­date, re­sources or ac­tiv­i­ties. We are not aware of a sin­gle meet­ing of this com­mit­tee since its re­con­sti­tu­tion. In­stead, the Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties con­tinue to mon­i­tor, in­tim­i­date, ha­rass and ar­rest hu­man rights de­fend­ers and oth­ers crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment. Un­for­tu­nately, 2015 saw an in­ten­si­fy­ing clam­p­down on free­dom of ex­pres­sion, as­so­ci­a­tion and peace­ful as­sem­bly. The num­ber of pris­on­ers of con­science stands at more than 100 in­di­vid­u­als, while hun­dreds of oth­ers are fac­ing charges solely for the peace­ful ex­er­cise of their rights.

The 2014 UNGA res­o­lu­tion called on the Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties “to pro­tect the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion against on­go­ing vi­o­la­tions and abuses of hu­man rights and vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law and for safe, timely, full and un­hin­dered hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess to be granted to all ar­eas.” Wor­ry­ingly, in Kachin and North­ern Shan states, the armed con­flict has in­ten­si­fied, with es­ca­lat­ing at­tacks in Shan State re­ported in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber. Ear­lier in the year in Fe­bru­ary, re­newed con­flict emerged in the Kokang Self-Ad­min­is­tered Zone. Ac­cord­ing to the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (OCHA), over 100,000 peo­ple re­main dis­placed in the re­gion, while the Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties con­tinue to re­strict hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess to dis­placed com­mu­ni­ties in some ar­eas of North­ern Shan and Kachin State. We con­tinue to re­ceive re­ports of vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights and hu­man­i­tar­ian law com­mit­ted by gov­ern­ment and eth­nic armed or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing rape and other forms of sex­ual violence, forced labour and por­ter­ing, the use of land­mines, and re­cruit­ment of child sol­diers.

We also note with con­cern that pre­vi­ous UNGA res­o­lu­tions have made lit­tle ref­er­ence to eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural rights, in par­tic­u­lar con­cerns about forced evic­tions as well as the hu­man rights and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of cor­po­rate projects. In­vest­ment

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