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Oral Statement at the Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma/Myanmar

By Forum-Asia, Human Rights Education Institute of Burma and Burma Partnership  •  March 11, 2013

Thank you, Mr. President. FORUM-ASIA, in association with its member organisation Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) and Burma Partnership, welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/22/43) which demonstrates the need for sustained attention of this Council on the human rights situation in the country. The Special Rapporteur’s present mandate must be maintained even in the context of the positive developments as serious human rights violations remain unaddressed.

Mr. President, we remind this Council of the persistent gross and systematic human rights violations in ethnic nationality areas, including sexual violence, torture and extrajudicial killings committed by the Myanmar Army. We condemn the on-going offensive by the Myanmar Army in Kachin State since June 2011 and urge the government to engage in a genuine political dialogue which fully involves all parties, including civil society and affected communities. In addition, we express our deep concern over the communal violence in Rakhine State and support the Special Rapporteur’s call for the amendment of the 1982 Citizenship Law and the removal of all discriminatory regulations applied to Rohingyas.

Mr. President, we draw the particular attention of this Council to the continued judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders in the country. Increasingly, peaceful dissent has been criminalized through the use of Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and Section 505(b) of the Penal Code.[1] Furthermore, the new bill on printing and publishing, submitted by the government to the Parliament this week, represents a serious backtrack on the path of reforms in the country.[2] Meanwhile, we share the Special Rapporteur’s concern that more than 250 political prisoners remain behind bars and urge the government to ensure that the newly-established Political Prisoners Verification Committee is fully transparent, effective and independent.

Mr. President, we concur with the Special Rapporteur that truth, justice and accountability are integral to the reform agenda in the country. To this end, there is an urgent need for independent, transparent, impartial and credible investigations into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Again, we emphasize that the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission cannot adequately address this need, as elaborated in our written statement (A/HRC/NGO/22/133).

Finally, Mr. President, we stress that the establishment of an OHCHR office in Burma/Myanmar with a full mandate of human rights protection as well as unhindered access throughout the country is an important and concrete starting point in addressing the host of human rights concerns on the ground.  Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Quintana.

Watch the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur here (Khin Ohmar’s statement is at Chapter 31).

________________________________

[1]   FORUM-ASIA, Executive Summary, “Burma/Myanmar: New Forms of
Control and Threats to Freedoms of Expression, Assembly and
Association amidst Reforms Fanfare”, International Fact-finding
Mission, 24-30 October 2012
Burma Partnership, “Burma Continues to Repress Critical Voices”, 20
January 2013

[2]   Burma Partnership, “Draft Media Law A Step Backward for Burma”,
1 March 2013

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This post is in: Crimes Against Humanity, NHRC Monitor

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