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UN General Assembly Resolution on Burma – No Practical Action to End Abuses

By Burma Campaign UK  •  November 6, 2015

Burma Campaign UK today described the draft UN General Assembly Resolution on the situation of human rights in Burma as not reflecting the scale and seriousness of the human rights situation on the ground, or the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar.

The Resolution fails to put forward any practical steps to end human rights violations, such as establishing a UN Commission of Inquiry into the human rights situation in Rakhine State, where legal experts say there is evidence of genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

“Albert Einstein once stated that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that definition, the draft UN Resolution on Burma is insane. It simply repeats calls made every year for almost quarter of a century for the government of Burma to act to end abuses, when it knows from experience that they will not,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “It is time the General Assembly took practical steps, such as establishing a UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations against the Rohingya.”

Although the Resolution is slightly stronger in some ways than some recent Resolutions, it is still a long way from reflecting the seriousness and scale of human rights abuses taking place, and the backtracking on reforms by the Burmese government. Political agendas appear to have trumped concern over human rights.

The draft Resolution refers to serious human rights abuses including: ‘arbitrary arrest and detention, forced displacement, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary deprivation of property, including land, and violations of international humanitarian law in some parts of the country, and repeats its call upon the Government to take necessary measures to ensure accountability and end impunity’. These human rights violations could all constitute violations of international law, but the Resolution proposes no action beyond repeating calls made for more than two decades for the government of Burma to act.

On the Rohingya, the Resolution: ‘Reiterates its serious concern about the situation of the Rohingya in Rakhine State and other minorities subject to marginalization and instances of human rights violations and abuses; 14. Calls upon the Government of Myanmar to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals, including persons belonging to the Rohingya minority, to allow for self-identification, to ensure equal access to full citizenship and related rights, including civil and political rights, for all stateless persons, freedom of movement, as well as the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons to their communities of origin, and rapid and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance without discrimination, to ensure equal access to services, particularly health and education, the right to marry and birth registration, and to undertake full, transparent and independent investigations into all reports of human rights violations and abus
es to ensure accountability and bring about reconciliation.’

Last week a major report came out which found ‘strong evidence’ that genocide is being committed against the ethnic Rohingya of Burma. The report, a legal analysis by the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, and the human rights organisation Fortify Rights, called for a UN Commission of Inquiry into the human rights situation in Rakhine State, where most Rohingya in Burma live.

Evidence compiled by Human Rights Watch in 2013 indicated state involvement in crimes against the Rohingya which meet the definition of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Given how obsequious some of the recent UN General Assembly Resolutions on Burma have been, the fact that the Resolution has gone ahead, and with the language included on some human rights abuses, EU officials may be congratulating themselves on what they think is a tough resolution. But at the end of the day, what matters is changing the human rights situation on the ground, and by that measure, this Resolution fails.

For more information contact:

Mark Farmaner on 07941239640.

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This post is in: Press Release

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