Myanmar: States must ensure that rhetoric at the UN translates to action on the ground

Statement at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

 Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Myanmar

Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his progress report.

More than a thousand civilians have been killed in Myanmar since February’s coup. The junta has continued its terror campaign against human rights defenders. Many have been forced into hiding. Many others, unable to flee, have been arbitrarily arrested, including environmental and labour rights defenders and student activists. Some have been tortured or ill-treated.

Arbitrary amendments of the penal code by the junta, outlawing so-called ‘false news,’ has effectively made independent journalism a crime. The threat of arrest has driven many news organisations to close their offices and forced journalists underground or into exile. Two journalists were arrested just last month at an apartment where they had been hiding in Yangon. Authorities have banned satellite media and imposed rolling restrictions on the internet.

The situation in Myanmar cannot be forgotten and its fragile democratic gains lost to history. Dictatorship must not be allowed to remain in place through inadequacy of the international response.

The Special Rapporteur has already made urgent calls on States:

  • To outlaw the export of arms to the Myanmar military, as called for by the General Assembly;
  • To impose systemic sanctions, targeting military-controlled enterprises;
  • To cordinate investigations of ongoing crimes under universal jurisdiction;
  • To increase humanitarian aid through the National Unity Government, local humanitarian networks and community-based organisations;
  • And to reject any claims of legitimacy that the junta may try to assert.

We call on States to take these steps to ensure that rhetoric at the UN translates to action to provide the support so desperately needed by those on the ground.

Thank you.

Civic space in Myanmar is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor