Myanmar

 

  • MYANMAR: ‘The government needs to open the doors’

    CIVICUS speaks with Nay Lin Tun, a doctor and civil society humanitarian worker in Myanmar, about conflict in Rakhine State, the difficulties faced by minorities in the region, and civil society’s work to provide help.

    nay lin tun

    Can you tell us about your background and the work you’re doing in Rakhine State?

    I’m a doctor working in public health, particularly focusing on primary healthcare, reproductive and women’s health, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. I was part of a group who founded a civil society organisation, the Center for Social Integrity, which supports communities in conflict-affected areas, including Rakhine State. We’re trying to support people based on their needs, including their needs to food, shelter and livelihoods. Right now in Rakhine State we are providing basic humanitarian support, education, healthcare, livelihoods and water and sanitation services for people in the conflict areas. Because of my experience I focus on providing healthcare and humanitarian support.

    At the moment there is fighting in the north and east of Rakhine State between the Myanmar Army and the insurgent Arakan Army. According to the United Nations there are around 35,000 newly displaced people because of the fighting in 2019, living in camps in Rakhine State. We are supporting these communities and other conflict-affected communities in the area.

    What are some of the challenges minority groups face in Rakhine State?

    In my country there are 135 recognised ethnic groups. The majority ethnic group are the Bamar, who are the main group across most of Myanmar. At the other end of the spectrum are lots of small groups, often in the regions close to borders, who are becoming less and less recognised by the government. Different groups face different challenges. In Rakhine State there are religious, ethnic and social minorities, and they all face human rights challenges.

    The Rohingya community, who are Muslims, have been subjected to a lot of abuses. They are denied citizenship and treated as stateless persons. They are not recognised as an ethnic group by the 1982 Citizenship Law. They are called Bengalis by many in the dominant population groups, because they see them as belonging to Bangladesh. They have their movement restricted and struggle to access education and healthcare.

    Local hospitals are inadequate, so if there is a medical emergency people have to travel to a major city. Before 2017 they could go to the Bangladesh side of the border on a short-term pass and get hospital treatment, but now the border area is closed and they cannot do this. But because they don’t have citizenship and their movement is restricted, it is also hard to go to the big hospitals in Sitwe, the main city in Rakhine State. People can pay for this with their lives. If there is an emergency, the only way people can negotiate to get treatment is to pay a bribe. This happened to someone I was trying to treat for a tumour.

    In another case, a pregnant woman had severe labour pains in the middle of the night. They tried to take her to hospital, but there is a curfew, introduced in 2017 and in force ever since. No one can go out between 11pm and 5am. There are many police checkpoints in the area, and while other villages were okay, in this case they would not allow this pregnant woman to pass. She had to go home. By the time she could go to hospital the next day, the child was already dead. Luckily, the mother survived.

    Rohingya people are also denied education. The highest education most people can get is at high school. They cannot join a university as a full-time student. They can only do distance learning for a few subjects. They also struggle to find work. Most Rohingya people work in farming, fishing and cutting timber, but right now they are not allowed to fish or go into forests to chop wood. Most of the farming lands are occupied by the military. Most people are now involved in daily casual work. So everyday life is very challenging.

    The Rohingya are not the only minority in the region who face difficulties. Local ethnic groups such as the Chakma, Dynat and Mu, who live on the mountains, face challenges, even though their religion is Buddhist. Because they live in remote locations, they cannot access healthcare and education. They have no life opportunities.

    What was your experience of the violence that occurred in 2017?

    What I saw was people living in fear. I saw communities that were afraid of each other: Rohingya people and Rakhine people, the majority group within the state, were afraid of each other. I worked on medical clinics in northern Rakhine State and hired a taxi to transport medicines. My driver, who was from the Rakhine group, did not want to take me to the area. You had people unable to go to the other communities because they did not think they would come back.

    What role do you think hate speech and extremist views played in stoking conflict?

    Most of the hate speech and extremist protest and provocations came from extreme groups in the big cities, and was spread by social media, whereas in rural communities it was more that you had villages of different ethnic groups that were afraid of each other. There was a lot of misinformation spread through social media, and this was viral. No one could know what was true or not. Positive stories and true information were far less viral than hate speech and misinformation.

    In the major cities, hate speech and misinformation turned a social conflict into a religious conflict between Buddhism and Islam. Extremist Buddhist monks turned this into a bigger conflict. Extremist groups spread disinformation and encouraged extremism, with the unofficial support of the military and political parties, in their own interests. People played political games in the big cities, but they had no connection to the villages in the conflict area. Those people were the most affected and they were living in fear, and live in fear now. There is a big challenge in controlling hate speech and misinformation on social media.

    It is much harder for civil society voices promoting social cohesion and religious harmony to be heard compared to hate speech, but civil society is trying to do this. These are messages my organisation is trying to promote very strongly in the conflict areas. But there is a need for more impact, and more efforts, not just from civil society but from the government. There is a need for much more activity that strengthens communities.

    What support is needed, including from the international community, to improve the lives of minorities and people affected by conflict?

    There is a lot of willingness from the international community to support people in Rakhine State, and not only Rohingya people but also other minorities. But the most challenging thing at the moment is that national government and local authorities are limiting them from doing so, and have been doing since 2017. So there is a lack of ability to really go into the villages and directly help people.

    The international community needs to engage with the national government and local authorities so that they are willing to work with them and listen to the voices of local communities and support them in the areas affected by conflict. They need to build relationships with the government, and the government needs to work with the international community. The government needs to open the doors.

    It is all about access – access to healthcare, access to education, access to livelihoods. Right now access is blocked. Even access to the internet was blocked by the government, between June and September. People don’t have access to the means to share their voices. People are also scared of speaking out because of restrictive media laws. They fear they will get into trouble. This is why I try to share their stories. So, access is the big challenge. We need more access by the community for the community. This is why the government needs to open the doors for international and local civil society.

    Civic space in Myanmar is rated as ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Get in touch withCenter for Social Integrity through its website andFacebook pages, and on Twitter@cfor_integrity.

     

  • ‘The idea that a certain group does not belong in a country is instrumental in enabling discrimination and persecution against it’

    CIVICUS speaks toSusannah Sirkin, director of international policy and partnerships and senior advisor with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Founded in 1986, PHR uses medicine and science to document and call attention to mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. PHR’s work focuses on the physical and psychological effects of torture and sexual violence, the forensic documentation of attacks on civilians, the unnecessary and excessive use of force during civil unrest, and the protection of medical institutions and health professionals working on the frontline of human rights crises. Sirkin oversees PHR’s international policy engagement, including its work with the United Nations, domestic and international justice systems, and human rights coalitions, and is also responsible for managing and multiplying PHR’s strategic partnerships globally.

    1. What is the current situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and in the refugee camps in Bangladesh?

    The situation is absolutely desperate and devastating, both inside Myanmar, as far as anybody can tell, and in Bangladesh, as the world is able to see on television. Essentially, what we have witnessed over the past six months – although this has been building up for years – is what the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) has referred to as possible genocide, and what most organisations concerned with international law and human rights have denounced as crimes against humanity. Dozens of Rohingya villages have been burnt to the ground, forcing people to flee on long journeys through the jungle to reach a very precarious situation in Bangladesh. People fleeing have been pursued and attacked with guns and other weapons not just by the military but also by civilian members of the Burmese population.

    In Bangladesh, refugees are living in incredibly overcrowded, under-resourced, and dangerous camps – it’s hardly fair to even call them “camps,” although the situation has improved a bit over the past couple of months. More than 620,000 Rohingya, about half the population, have so far fled Rakhine state, and they have nowhere else to go. So they are forced to stay on a very small piece of land in one of the poorest and already most densely populated countries in the world. There have already been outbreaks of infectious diseases, and given the problems of overcrowding and lack of basic hygiene and sanitation, which my own team at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has recently reported, it is possible for infectious diseases to spread rapidly and with lethal results.

    Essentially, the world has witnessed the virtual destruction of a culture, a community and a portion of the Burmese population. Myanmar and Bangladesh have recently reached an agreement for the Rohingya to return to Myanmar, but nobody really believes such an agreement can be implemented under the present circumstances. In the first place, refugees shouldn’t be sent back to Myanmar unless citizenship and basic rights are guaranteed. In the second, the provisions in the agreement involve Rohingya providing documents according to citizenship laws that don’t recognise them as citizens. This is obviously hugely problematic. What’s more, they have no homes to return to, as their villages have been burned, their lands and cattle seized by their non-Muslim neighbours, and many in their families and communities killed. There have also been very serious reports of mass rapes of women and girls, as well as killings of babies and young children, so the situation couldn’t be worse on any count.

    2. Why is the Rohingya minority being specifically targeted?

    There’s a long history of discrimination and persecution of minority groups in Myanmar, not only of the Rohingya but also of the Chin, Kachin, Karen, and Shan minorities. PHR has documented the persecution of ethnic minorities in Myanmar for a decade, and other human rights groups have done it long before us.

    Historically, it has been a problem for people who are not Burmese to live in Burma or Myanmar. There is a hyper-nationalist strain among both the population and the country’s leadership, and, on top of this, the country has lived for decades under a military dictatorship that persecuted not only the political opposition but also ethnic and religious minorities.

    Myanmar has failed to recognise diversity and human rights for all its population. The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in a country that has a Buddhist majority, have long been deprived of their citizenship and treated as if they were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Many Rohingya have lived in Rakhine state for several generations, well over a hundred years, and belong in Myanmar as much as anybody else. However, in the latest census they were not counted among Burmese minorities but rather as foreigners lacking the protections that citizens receive under the law.

    The idea that a certain group does not belong in a country is instrumental in enabling discrimination and persecution against it. A few years ago, PHR released a report on the burning of Muslim homes in Buddhist-dominated areas of Myanmar. We documented a well-known massacre in the town of Meikhtila, where police and security officials stood by and watched as local population burned houses and people alive. These actions had long been encouraged by racist and anti-Muslim rhetoric, fuelled by a few very charismatic Buddhist monks that had much influence with the population.

    Before the 2015 crackdown and subsequent crisis, more than one million Rohingya lived in Myanmar, most of them in Rakhine state. Their relationship with their Buddhist neighbours had been tense for quite some time, and outbreaks of violence had been relatively frequent in the past. The current crisis broke out in August 2017, when government forces were attacked by militants and a “clearance operation” was launched by Myanmar security forces in response. Mass expulsion of the Rohingya has since been executed under the pretence of a counter-insurgency operation, with the local population joining in burning villages and killing people. This looks like a very well-coordinated effort between officials and citizens, which is very disturbing.

    In present Myanmar, the situation is compounded by the denial of human rights on multiple levels. We have recently seen a frightening crackdown on the freedom of expression in the country, and for some time the area in northern Rakhine State has been closed off to journalists. For some years now, it has been very difficult for humanitarian aid to reach the area. When a government shuts down access in such way, one can only fear the worst, because it strongly suggests that they are trying to hide something.

    3. Has progressive and human rights-oriented civil society in Myanmar and Bangladesh done anything to respond to this crisis? If so, what challenges have they faced?

    There have been efforts by very courageous individuals and organisations inside Myanmar, especially those representing minority groups, as well as human rights and humanitarian organisations. But it is extremely dangerous, if not impossible, to be an independent civil society voice inside Myanmar right now. For the Rohingya in Rakhine State, speaking up means sure death, and there is no access even for journalists to document what is going on in the area. So, unfortunately, even the most courageous members of civil society have been silenced by persecution.

    In Bangladesh, there are a number of efforts underway, particularly by the humanitarian community, to help the refugees. But it’s not the best possible situation in terms of humanitarian response, either. The fact that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was not designated as the lead agency has been viewed negatively, although there has been strong coordination between the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR. In any case, the refugee influx has been overwhelming and the early response was insufficient. Moreover, this is happening in a challenging environment, and we need to understand that such an influx of refugees can be nothing but overwhelming for a country like Bangladesh – which makes an adequate international response all the more important.

    4. You mentioned that the area where the atrocities are occurring is closed to journalists and civil society. What challenges have PHR and similar organisations faced in documenting the abuses?

    The number one challenge is that human rights groups can’t get into Myanmar. It is therefore extremely difficult to do what we are supposed to do in terms of properly and independently documenting and assessing the facts inside the country where the crimes have occurred. The prohibition not only applies to human rights civil society organisations – representatives of the UNHCHR and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar have also been barred from visiting the country. On the other hand, entry was allowed for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who was able to interview survivors and confirm reports of atrocities.

    As we lack access to Myanmar, we have instead documented what has happened to this people by interviewing them in Bangladesh. Thankfully, human rights groups and humanitarian organisations have had access to refugee camps, and this has been critical to documenting the plight of the Rohingya and their current humanitarian situation, and reporting on it. Doing this in the middle of a huge humanitarian crisis poses specific challenges. We are basically interviewing survivors who are desperately in need of trauma recovery, medical care, shelter, food, water, sanitation, and information about their missing family members. We have interviewed people who lost everybody in their families and are the sole survivors; people who have seen their homes burned to the ground, who had family members raped and shot dead, who were shot at even while crossing the river to get to Bangladesh. Documenting these kinds of human rights violations is certainly challenging for the person that is being interviewed, but it is also challenging for the one doing the reporting, because the need is so intense and the trauma is so acute – and we are a medically-based organisation, after all.

    5. What support should the international community offer to resolve this crisis?

    First, what most urgently requires a response from global governments is the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the ground in Bangladesh, in order to meet the most desperate needs of the refugees.

    Second, there is a need for governments of the most powerful countries with influence on the Myanmar government – including China, which has consistently supported the government – to exert pressure so Myanmar immediately stops persecuting this population and gives them the citizenship and associated guarantees that they are due.

    It is important to note that there have been high expectations regarding the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is now Myanmar’s nominal head of state, and her apparent lack of concern and acknowledgment of what her government has been doing have been very concerning. On one hand, we need to understand that she has limited control over the country’s military forces enacting the brutal campaign against the Rohingya. On the other hand, however, the international community needs to send Suu Kyi a strong message, since so much of the Burmese population views her as a leader and a hero, and her voice could change the tenor of this crisis – it could turn the population away from prejudice, discrimination, and persecution of the Rohingya and other minorities.

    Third, there needs to be credible efforts to establish accountability and justice. This is critical, given the seriousness of the crimes that have been committed. Unfortunately, efforts to refer the crimes in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court for assessment have been blocked by China, among others.

    Finally, it is also crucial to confront the flaws of the repatriation agreement, so that anybody who chooses to return to Myanmar is able to do so safely and with guarantees for all their human rights, including the right to reclaim their land, property, livelihood, and employment, as well as to practice their religion freely and safely. On the other hand, those who choose not to go back need to be guaranteed the right to claim asylum and find safe haven in another country. Policy-wise, the biggest challenge will be defining what will happen to these people who have fled in such high numbers.

    This will not be an easy crisis to solve. Global politics are not looking particularly good at the moment. World leaders and the Security Council have many other crises to deal with, including the North Korea situation, Iran, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and so on. Many of us are worried that people are going to forget about this particular crisis unfolding in a remote part of the world, so it is vital to continue to call attention to these serious human rights abuses and not let the world forget that this is an ongoing humanitarian crisis. As recently as last week, we’ve seen reports of outbreaks of diphtheria, and there are fears of a cholera epidemic, which will not be easy to contain. The long-term solution to this crisis will most definitely require continuous surveillance, reporting, and action by UN bodies, regional organisations, individual governments, and civil society.

    • Civic space in Myanmar is rated as ‘repressed’ in the CIVICUS Monitor, indicating serious restrictions in the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression.
    • Get in touch with PHR through their website or Facebook page, or follow @P4HR and @susannahsirkin on Twitter

     

  • CIVICUS condemns conviction of Reuters journalists on trial in Myanmar

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, believes the conviction of two journalists employed by global news agency, Reuters, who have been on trial in Myanmar is a dark day for press freedom in Myanmar. The two journalists have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

    Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on December 12, 2017 under the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The reporters, who were facing up to 14 years imprisonment if convicted, were arrested after being handed documents by police officers during a dinner meeting, that turned out to be secret government documents relating to Myanmar’s western Rakhine state and security forces, according to the country’s Information Ministry.

    At the time of their arrest, the journalists, who both pleaded “not guilty” to charges, had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Inn Din village in Rakhine during a brutal military crackdown in that state against the Rohingya minority that began last August. During the trial, a police captain, admitted in court that a senior officer had ordered his subordinates to “trap” the journalists by handing them the classified documents. He was subsequently sentenced to a one-year prison term.

    In recent months, there have been continued attacks on fundamental freedoms in Myanmar with dozens being arrested and charged for peaceful protests or for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    “We believe the verdict in this trial is a travesty of justice and sends a chilling message to all journalists in the country,” said Clementine de Montjoye, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at CIVICUS:

    “Prosecutions on spurious grounds serve to intimidate local journalists and activists, and this trial is representative of the Myanmar government’s repeated attempts to cover up its actions,” said de Montjove.

    “Given the state-sponsored atrocities being committed in Myanmar today, the government’s crackdown on independent investigations and dissent is hardly surprising”.

    In an End of Mission report issued in July, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said “the democratic space in Myanmar continues to sharply deteriorate”. Her report also highlighted concerns about the use of repressive laws to suppress political dissidents, youth, human rights defenders and activists and the arrest of demonstrators around the country.

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, has rated civic space in Myanmar as repressed. CIVICUS stands in solidarity with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and all Myanmars who work to promote democracy and the protection of fundamental freedoms.

    ENDS.

    For more information, contact:

    Clementine de Montjoye

     

     

     

  • Country recommendations for UN Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    All UN member states have their human rights records reviewed every 4.5 years.  CIVICUS  and partners make UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space in Australia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, and Rwanda

    CIVICUS and its partners have made joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 7 countries in advance of the 37th UPR session (January 2021). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.

    AustraliaThis submission raises alarm over the increasing criminalisation of climate and environmental movements and defenders, including Indigenous peoples, scientists, student strikers and environmental organisations, in the wake of Australia’s recent bushfires. It further discusses the unwarranted restrictions on media freedoms due, in large part, to an increase in police raids on independent media outlets. Moreover, its expresses concern over recent attempts to silence whistle-blowers who reveal government wrongdoing under the Intelligence Services Act.

    Lebanon In its submission CIVICUS, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, International Media Support (IMS), Social Media Exchange (SMEX) examine how the  government has persistently failed to address the brutal and violent dispersal of peaceful protests, the arrest and prosecution of journalists and protesters and restrictions on the activities of CSOs advocating for women’s and LGBTQI+ rights. It also discusses legal and extra-legal restrictions on the freedom of association and, in particular, the systematic targeting of associations and activities by the LGBTQI+ community. Moreover, it assesses the continued deterioration of the freedom of expression, as highlighted by the increase in judicial proceedings against media outlets critical of the authorities, threats to digital rights, raids and attacks by security forces and sometimes by members of the public on media outlets.

    Mauritania (FR) CIVICUS and Réseau Ouest-Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/ West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH / WAHRDN) demonstrates that since its last review, the Government of Mauritania has not implemented any of the recommendations relating to civic space. Instead, civic space in Mauritania remains repressed, and civil society actors, especially those working on anti-slavery campaigns and seeking to end racial and ethnic discrimination are frequently targeted and intimidated by the state. Civil society actors face legal and practical barriers to exercising their rights to association and peacefully assembly, which is hampered by the 1964 Law on Associations and Law No. 73-008 on Public Assemblies.

    Myanmar The submission by CIVICUS, Free Expression Myanmar and Asia Democracy Network highlights the use of an array of unwarrantedly restrictive laws to arrest and prosecute human rights defenders, activists, journalists and government critics for the peaceful exercise of their freedoms of association and expression. It also documents the restrictions on peaceful protests in law and practice, the arbitrary arrest and prosecution of protesters and the use of excessive force and firearms to disperse protests against government policies and land disputes with businesses.

    NepalCIVICUS and Freedom Forum examine howrepressive laws, including amendments made to Nepal’s criminal code, have been used to limit the work of independent CSOs and suppress the freedom of expression. The submission further discusses how the ongoing attacks against journalists and the suppression of peaceful assembly continues to undermine civil space in the country. An evaluation of a range of legal sources and human rights documentation addressed in this submission demonstrate that the Government of Nepal has not implemented any of the recommendations relating to civic space during its previous UPR examination.

    OmanThe Omani Association for Human Rights, Gulf Centre for Human Rights and CIVICUS highlight the closure of civic space in Oman and the use of restrictive legislation to target human rights defenders, journalists and writers and civil society organisations.  We outline concerns over the forced closure of human rights organisations, the shutting down of independent newspapers and the banning of books and other publications.  Human rights defenders and journalists are often subjected to arbitrary arrests and judicial persecution for their reporting and human rights activities. Due to these restrictions, several human rights defenders and their families have fled into exile.  Freedom of peaceful assembly is also severely restricted as provisions in the Penal Code are used to pre-empt and prevent protests and stop those that actually take place. 

    RwandaThe submission byCIVICUS and DefendDefenders (EHAHRDP) outlines serious concerns related to the unabated repression of the work of human rights defenders, civil society activists and journalists. The submission explores how restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, expression and access to information have been codified and willfully misapplied under Law No. 68/2018  (on assembly), Law N0 04/12 (on association and activities of CSOs), and the Law on Prevention and Punishment of Cybercrimes (expression and access to information). The Submission makes a number of action-oriented recommendations in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Rwandan Constitution, the ICCPR, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6, 27/5 and 27/31. 

    See all of our UPR submissions here.


    Country civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor: 

    AustraliaLebanon, MauritaniaMyanmar, NepalOman, Rwanda

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

  • El Reino Unido responde a las preguntas realizadas por los miembros de CIVICUS al Consejo de Seguridad

    En el marco de sus consultas con la sociedad civil durante su presidencia del Consejo de Seguridad del mes de agosto, la Misión Permanente del Reino Unido de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte ante las Naciones Unidas respondió a las preguntas presentadas por los miembros de CIVICUS sobre la situación de seguridad en la República Democrática del Congo, Eritrea, Etiopía, Gaza y Birmania.


    La sociedad civil ocupa un papel importante en los programas del Consejo de Seguridad y CIVICUS desea agradecer al Reino Unido y a todos los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad por su compromiso constante con la participación de la sociedad civil en el trabajo del Consejo.

    El Consejo de Seguridad sigue de cerca la situación en la República Democrática del Congo (RDC).  En la resolución 2409 solicitamos al Secretario General que se nos proporcionaran informes cada treinta días.  El Consejo también aborda con frecuencia la situación de la RDC. El Consejo de Seguridad insiste en la importancia de que se celebren elecciones pacíficas, creíbles, inclusivas y oportunas el 23 de diciembre de 2018, en conformidad con el calendario electoral, que conduzcan a un traspaso pacífico del poder, según las disposiciones de la Constitución congoleña.  El Consejo de Seguridad también destaca la importancia de proteger a los civiles, incluso mediante el mandato de la MONUSCO, para la cual su protección es una prioridad estratégica. Durante la presidencia británica tuvo lugar una sesión informativa del Consejo de Seguridad sobre la RDC centrada en las próximas elecciones. Aquí puede consultarse la declaración del embajador.
     
    El Consejo de Seguridad publicó una comunicado sobre la firma de la Declaración conjunta de paz y amistad entre Eritrea y Etiopía del 9 de julio de 2018

    El OOPS fue creado por mandato de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas.  La posibilidad de que se suspendan sus servicios debido al actual déficit financiero del OOPS es motivo de gran preocupación para los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad, como así se expresó durante las consultas del Consejo celebradas el 22 de agosto sobre la situación en Oriente Medio.

    El Reino Unido sigue firmemente comprometido con el OOPS y con los refugiados palestinos de todo Oriente Medio. Ante las crecientes presiones financieras, el Reino Unido ha aportado alrededor de 60 millones de dólares americanos en 2018. Instamos a otros países a que proporcionen financiación adicional y a que efectúen desembolsos periódicos para garantizar que el OOPS siga llevando acabo su labor esencial.

    El Consejo de Seguridad sigue de cerca y con preocupación la situación en Gaza, por ejemplo, a través de las reuniones informativas periódicas como la que la Secretaria General Adjunta, Rosemary DiCarlo, ofreció ante el Consejo el 22 de agosto.
     
    El principal objetivo a largo plazo del Reino Unido es el retorno seguro, voluntario y digno a Rakáin, bajo supervisión internacional, del mayor número posible de refugiados rohinyás que se encuentran actualmente en Bangladés. En la actualidad, consideramos que las condiciones no son las adecuadas para el regreso de los refugiados. Apoyaremos a Birmania para que así lo haga, pero necesita realizar mejoras tangibles sobre el terreno. De manera más inmediata, Birmania debería permitir el acceso sin trabas de la ONU al norte de Rakáin.

    El Reino Unido ha acogido con satisfacción el anuncio de Birmania de crear una comisión de investigación sobre la violencia en Rakáin. Ahora es esencial que el gobierno birmano establezca las condiciones para que dicha investigación sea creíble, transparente e imparcial. Aún esperamos la decisión de la CPI con el fin de saber si tiene jurisdicción sobre las deportaciones de rohinyás a Bangladés (país signatario del Estatuto de Roma).
     
    Este mes, los miembros de CIVICUS preguntaron por las libertades cívicas en Colombia, la retirada de las tropas de la UNAMID de Darfur, la inseguridad alimentaria en el Sahel, la reubicación de la embajada de los Estados Unidos en Jerusalén, el deterioro del espacio cívico en Uganda, el caso de Omar Al Bashir en la Corte Penal Internacional y la amenaza mundial que supone la ciberdelincuencia.

    Estas preguntas y respuestas son el resultado de un llamamiento mensual a los miembros de CIVICUS para que envíen sus preguntas al presidente del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. Esta es una oportunidad para que los miembros entren en contacto con un importante foro internacional de toma de decisiones. El personal de CIVICUS plantea las preguntas en nombre de los miembros de CIVICUS durante el informe mensual del presidente. ¡Hágase socio de CIVICUS para mantenerse informado y participar en esta acción!

     

  • Joint Call for a Global Arms Embargo on Myanmar

    Over 130 Organisations write an open letter to the UN Security Council and individual UN Member States to urgently institute a coordinated global arms embargo on Myanmar in response to the military coup.

    We, the undersigned organizations, call on the United Nations Security Council and UN member states to urgently institute a coordinated, global arms embargo on Myanmar in response to the February 1, 2021 military coup that has deprived the people of Myanmar of the right to democratically elect their government. Our concerns are heightened by ongoing violations of human rights and the security forces’ history of grave abuses against peaceful critics of military rule, as well as against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups.

    Under the commander-in-chief, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the Myanmar military has detained the elected civilian leaders of the country, nullified the results of the November 2020 democratic elections, and installed a junta, the State Administration Council, under a manufactured “state of emergency.” Since February 1, the junta has increasingly used excessive and at times lethal force at demonstrations; threatened and arbitrarily detained activists, journalists, students, and civil servants; and imposed rolling internet shutdowns that put lives at risk.

    Days after the coup, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “We will do everything we can to mobilize all the key actors and international community to put enough pressure on Myanmar to make sure that this coup fails.” The UN special rapporteur on Myanmar has called for targeted UN sanctions on the military and an arms embargo, while the deputy high commissioner for human rights has voiced support for targeted UN sanctions on the coup leaders.

    In that spirit, we urge the Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar. Such a resolution should bar the direct and indirect supply, sale, or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment, including dual-use goods such as vehicles and communications and surveillance equipment, as well as the provision of training, intelligence, and other military assistance. The embargo should be accompanied by robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

    Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.

    Until the Council acts, individual UN member states should adopt measures at the national and regional levels to block sales and other transfers of weapons and materiel to Myanmar, with the goal of extending an arms embargo to as close to a global scale as possible. 

    For decades, the Security Council’s response to crimes by the Myanmar security forces has been inadequate, emboldening the military to continue committing abuses without fear of serious consequences. The current crisis demands a change in course.

    On February 4, the Security Council spoke with a single voice to demand the release of all those arbitrarily detained and the protection of the country’s democratic institutions. Council members should use that newfound consensus to take swift and substantive action. An arms embargo would be the centerpiece of a global effort to shield the people of Myanmar from a return to abusive and autocratic rule.

    The time to act is now.

    Signatories

    Access Now
    Advocacy Forum-Nepal
    AFL-CIO
    All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
    Arakan Information Center 
    Arakan Rivers Network
    Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights
    ARTICLE 19
    ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
    Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
    Asia Democracy Network
    Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Asian Human Rights Commission
    Asian Migrant Centre
    Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
    Asian Resource Foundation
    Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
    Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM)
    Australian Centre for International Justice
    Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
    BALAOD Mindanaw
    Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan
    Brotherhood For Democracy (BFD)
    Burma Campaign UK
    Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
    Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan
    Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia
    Bytes For All
    Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
    Cambodian Food And Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)
    Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
    Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
    Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
    Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
    Center for Peace Education, Miriam College
    Center for Social Integrity
    Centre for Human Rights and Development
    Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Climate Change Working Group-Myanmar
    Colorful Girls
    Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC)
    Cross Cultural Foundation 
    CSW
    Dawei Pro Bono Lawyer Network 
    Democracy, Peace and Women Organization
    DHEWA (Development for Health, Education, Work, and Awareness) Welfare Society
    Equality Myanmar
    Equitable Cambodia
    European Rohingya Council
    Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
    Fortify Rights
    Free Rohingya Coalition
    Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    Global Justice Center
    Global Witness
    Htoi Gender and Development Foundation
    Human Rights First
    Human Rights Foundation of Monland 
    Human Rights Law Centre
    Human Rights Office-Sri Lanka
    Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Without Frontiers
    Info Birmanie
    Innovation for Change Network 
    Institute for Asian Democracy
    Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
    International Campaign for the Rohingya
    International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), Asia Pacific
    International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)
    International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
    Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma
    Jubilee Australia
    Justice for All/Burma Task Force
    Justice for Myanmar
    Kachin State Women’s Network
    Karapatan Alliance Philippines
    Karen Human Rights Group
    KontraS Aceh
    Loka Ahlinn Social Development Organization 
    Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN)
    MAP Foundation
    Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)
    Mekong Migration Network
    Mennonite Central Committee
    MeSheWe
    Mother Nature Cambodia
    Myanmar Human Rights Alliances Network (MHRAN)
    National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
    Never Again Coalition
    New School for Democracy
    No Business With Genocide
    Nonviolence International
    Odhikar
    Olof Palme International Center
    OutRight Action International
    PAX
    Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand
    Pax Christi Australia
    Pax Christi International
    Pax Christi Korea
    Pax Christi Philippines
    People’s Empowerment Foundation
    People’s Watch
    Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
    Progressive Voice
    Prosecute; don’t perpetrate
    Public Association “Dignity”
    Pusat KOMAS
    Refugees International
    Restless Beings
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    Rohingya Association of Canada
    Rohingya Human Rights Initiative
    Rohingya Today
    Rohingya Women Education Initiative
    Rohingya Youth for Legal Action 
    Smile Foundation
    Swedish Burma Committee
    Taiwan Association for Human Rights
    Taiwan Forever Association (台灣永社)
    Tampadipa Institute
    The Arakan Project
    The May 18 Memorial Foundation
    The PLAN: Public Legal Aid Network
    The Swedish Rohingya Association 
    Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
    US Campaign for Burma
    Viet Tan
    Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
    Voice of Rohingya 
    Win Without War
    World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
    YMCA Mandalay
    Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)


    Civic space in Myanmar is rated "Repressed" by the CIVCICUS Monitor

     

     

  • Joint call for Human Rights Council Special Session on Myanmar

    Joint statement by human rights organisations calling UN Human Rights Council to convene a Special Session on Myanmar.

    We, the undersigned human rights organisations, are deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Myanmar after the military seized power and immediately cracked down on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to take immediate action.

     

  • Joint statement on critical topics from 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Our organisations welcome the adoption of the resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in reaffirming that all approaches to development must comply with the State’s international human rights obligations.

    We agree that “cooperation and dialogue” are important for the promotion and protection of human rights, and that States should fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms, and ensure that all stakeholders are able to cooperate and engage with them without fear of reprisals. 

    However, we must now be vigilant to ensure that the resolution on Mutually Beneficial Cooperation, lacking in balance, does not undermine other important parts of the Council’s mandate: to address human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies in specific countries. 

    The Council has failed to take meaningful action to address the alarming situation on the ground in Cambodia. We welcome and echo the joint statement on Cambodia by over 40 states calling for further action if the situation does not improve in the lead up to the elections and for a briefing by the High Commissioner before the next Council session. We are concerned by Cambodia’s attempt to shut down criticism under item 10 debate on the worsening human rights situation in the country, as they are doing domestically.

    We are disappointed by the weak outcome on Libya. Given the gravity of the human rights situation on the ground and the lack of accountability for crimes under international law, the Council cannot justify the lack of a dedicated monitoring and reporting mechanism. 

    We welcome the co-sponsorship of the Myanmar resolution by groups of States from all regions, making a joint commitment to address the continuing human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the country and support for the Special Rapporteur and Fact-Finding Mission to fulfil its mandate to establish truth and ensure accountability for perpetrators. 

    We also welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan allowing it to continue its vital investigations and identification of perpetrators. These developments acknowledge the importance of accountability for serious human rights violations and crimes under international law, which cannot be understated.

    We welcome the adoption of the resolution on drugs and human rights as the OHCHR report will provide human rights indicators related to the drug issue that would help in future policies.

    We welcome the resolution on Eastern Ghouta adopted after an urgent debate, demonstrating how this Council can respond in an agile manner to crises.

    Having long supported the resolution on “protection of human rights while countering terrorism", we appreciate the efforts that led to the end of the separate and deeply flawed initiative on "effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights". Future versions of the resolution must address the relevant issues exclusively and comprehensively from the perspective of the effective protection of human rights. 

    We welcome the Dutch-led joint statement on strengthening the Council, emphasising the importance of substantive civil society participation in any initiative or process and that the Council must be accessible, effective and protective for human rights defenders and rights holders on the ground.

    Finally, we call on the Bureau co-facilitators on improving the efficiency and strengthening the Council to closely engage with all Members and Observers of the Council, human rights defenders and civil society organisations not based in Geneva. 

    Delivered by: The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders), The Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, CIVICUS, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Human Rights House Foundation, Amnesty International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Human Rights Watch, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

     

  • Le Royaume-Uni répond aux questions posées par les membres de CIVICUS sur le Conseil de sécurité

    Durant les consultations du mois d’août de la présidence du Conseil de sécurité avec la société civile, la Mission permanente du Royaume-Uni auprès de l’Organisation des Nations Unies a répondu aux questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS concernant les situations sécuritaires en République Démocratique du Congo, Érythrée-Éthiopie, Gaza et Myanmar.


    La société civile joue un rôle important dans l’agenda du Conseil de sécurité et CIVICUS remercie le Royaume-Uni et tous les membres du Conseil de sécurité pour leur engagement à impliquer la société civile dans son fonctionnement.

    Le Conseil de sécurité suit de près la situation en RDC. Dans le cadre de la résolution 2409, nous avons demandé au Secrétaire général de nous faire transmettre des rapports mensuels. Le conseil tient des discussions fréquentes sur la RDC. Le Conseil de sécurité continue de souligner à quel point il est important que les élections du 23 décembre 2018 soient tenues dans le calme, de façon crédible, inclusive et dans les temps et qu’elles respectent le calendrier électoral, menant à un transfert pacifique du pouvoir, en accord avec la constitution congolaise. Le Conseil de sécurité continue aussi d’accentuer l’importance de la protection des civils, y compris à travers le mandat de la MONUSCO qui fait de la protection des civils une priorité stratégique. Durant la présidence du Royaume-Uni, un briefing s’est tenu au Conseil de sécurité sur les élections à venir en RDC. La déclaration de l’ambassadeur se trouve ici.

    Le Conseil de sécurité a publié un communiqué concernant la signature de la déclaration conjointe de paix et d’amitié entre l’Érythrée et l’Éthiopie du 9 Juillet 2018.

    L’UNRWA (l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient) a été établi et reçoit son mandat de l‘assemblée générale de l’ONU. La possibilité qu’elle doive suspendre ses services à cause de sa mauvaise situation financière préoccupe énormément les membres du Conseil de sécurité, comme cela a été exprimé durant les consultations du conseil du 22 août sur la situation au Moyen-Orient. Le Royaume-Uni reste fortement engagé dans son soutien à l’UNRWA et aux réfugiés palestiniens à travers le Moyen-Orient. Face à des pressions financières de plus en plus fortes, le Royaume-Uni a versé environ 60 millions de dollars en 2018. Nous continuons d’encourager d’autres à verser des financements additionnels et à effectuer des versements réguliers pour assurer que l’UNRWA puisse continuer son travail essentiel.
     
    Le Conseil de sécurité suit avec beaucoup de préoccupation la situation à Gaza, y compris à travers des briefings réguliers, comme par exemple celui du 22 août par la Secrétaire générale adjointe Rosemary DiCarlo.

    Sur le long-terme, le Royaume-Uni a pour but ultime le retour sans danger, volontaire et avec dignité du million de réfugiés Rohingyas, actuellement au Bangladesh, vers l’Etat Rakhine sous la surveillance internationale. Nous estimons que les conditions actuelles ne sont pas suffisantes pour que les réfugiés y retournent. Nous soutiendrons la Birmanie pour y arriver, mais une amélioration concrète des conditions sur le terrain est nécessaire. Dans l’immédiat, la Birmanie devrait donner à l’ONU un accès sans restriction à l’Etat du Nord-Rakhine. L’ONU s’est réjouie de la déclaration du gouvernement birman annonçant la mise en place d’une commission d’enquête sur les violences commises dans l’Etat Rakhine. Il est à présent essentiel que le gouvernement birman démontre comment l’enquête sera crédible, transparente et impartiale. Nous sommes toujours en attente d’une décision de la CPI concernant sa compétence à juger des déportations des Rohingyas au Bangladesh (qui est un état signataire du statut de Rome).

    D’autres questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS ce mois concernent les libertés civiques en Colombie, le retrait des troupes de l’UNAMID au Darfur, l’insécurité alimentaire au Sahel, la relocalisation de l’Ambassade des États-Unis d’Amérique à Jérusalem, la détérioration de l’espace civique en Ouganda, le cas du dirigeant Soudanais, Omar Al Bashir auprès de la Cour Pénale Internationale et la menace globale du cyber crime.

    Ces questions-réponses résultent d’un appel mensuel auprès des membres CIVICUS de soumettre leurs questions au président du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies. Il s’agit d’une opportunité pour nos membres d’être reliés à un forum international important où des décisions sont prises. Les employés de CIVICUS posent les questions au nom de nos membres durant le briefing du président tous les mois. Tenez-vous informé en devenant membre de CIVICUS.

     

  • Letter from Jail: Members of poetry troupe in Myanmar

    Letter from Zeyar Lwin and Paing Ye Thu members of the Peacock Generation in Myanmar

    Seven members of the Peacock Generation—Kay Khine Tun, Zayar Lwin, Paing Pyo Min, Paing Ye Thu, Zaw Lin Htut, Su Yadanar Myint and Nyein Chan Soe —were arrested in April and May 2019 after they performed Thangyat, a traditional performance art akin to slam poetry during the Thingyan Water Festival in April. On 30 October 2019, five of them were convicted under Section 505 (a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code at Mayangon Township Court in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and sentenced to one year in prison. Section 505 (a) of the Penal Code prohibits the circulation of statements and reports with the intent to cause officers or soldiers in the Myanmar Armed Forces to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in their duties

    For livestreaming performances on Facebook, Zay Yar Lwin, Paing Phyo Min, Paing Ye Thu, Su Yadanar Myint and Nyein Chan Soe also face charges under Section 66 (d) of the Telecommunication Act for “online defamation”. 

    Members of the Peacock Generation are facing the same charges in five other townships in Yangon and Ayerwaddy Region where they have performed Thangyat and face a possible 19 years imprisonment. Below is their letter from jail: 

    We are writing to you from the cells of Insein Prison, the notorious and largest prison in Myanmar. The seven of us were sued by the military and arrested after we performed the Thangyat, a traditional performance criticising the military.  We were convicted and sentenced to one year in prison by one court out of six and facing possible 19 years imprisonment. 

    We knew we could face risks and the military had noticed our group for a year and were preparing to take action against us. So instead of just avoiding it, we decided to be more critical in our lyrics when we performed, and action was taken against us. Our senior activists had also been critical of the military and now its our time to do so.

    When we heard of the charges, we went to the police station to allow them to detain us. We are also experienced with jails. First the military sued us in Mayangone and Botahtaung Townships, and later military in Pathein, Dedaye, Pyapon, Maupin townships from Ayeyarwaddy Regions also sued us under 505(a) and 66(d). When they sue us, it was not just one time. They sued us at different times and intentionally delayed the verdict process. Those court processes in Ayeyarwaddy Region have not yet begun. That means they want to lock up us for a long time. It’s already been 6 months and only one verdict is out. And only two courts hearings are done.

    We believe its not fair as even before the court decided on our innocence, we were already  in jail as criminals. Mentally it is hurting for those who are locked up in jail. We are trying to pass the days because we have strong beliefs, but it is difficult for others to be in jail.

    They have convicted us with no strong evidence. This is not a fair case. Because it is a case against the military, whatever we do, we will definitely be sentenced. Because in my country, nobody is treated fairly and equally by the law when the case is against military. We believe we didn’t commit a crime by performing Thangyat. This is the case of criticizing and resisting an oppressive institution – the military. We will never be silenced just because they jailed us or sentenced us this way. 

    We will keep criticizing and pointing out the flawed system in different ways because it is important for us to amend the constitution and to get the military out of politics so that we can pursue genuine democracy in Myanmar.  

    Thankfully we have people supporting us mentally and physically. They are all our colleagues, students, friends and families. Because of those support, we can stand these days. Lawyers support us legally.

    When we talk about freedom of expression, there very little space and we still have to work a lot to have that freedom. We understand that our rights shouldn’t harm others. We admit we strongly criticized the military, but why we were criticizing them strongly was because military leaders and their institution have obtained power unfairly and are harming our own people. Freedom of expression in Myanmar is like a tortoise trying to get carried by a flying stick held by two crows on both ends. We can talk about freedom of expression, but if we really express ourselves, we can get jailed. That’s the current situation. 

    To all the international organizations and institutions that want to help “democracy” in Myanmar, do whatever you can to help us please. The important thing is to influence the military. Only by influencing them, we can help them move in the right direction or else, things will get worse in future. Please speak up more for the situation in Myanmar. 

    Instead of asking you to specifically to help our case, we want to ask if you help democracy and politics in Myanmar, and when it is improved, we will be part of the journey too. There are many others who are currently  jailed in Myanmar. Thank you for your support and solidarity near and far and for helping change our country.

     

    Zeyar Lwin and Paing Ye Thu members of the Peacock Generation in Myanmar

    Translated by Thinzar Shunlei Yi a Youth Advocate and Activist from Myanmar

     

  • MYANMAR : « Les partis d'opposition se plaignent que le corps électoral censure leur discours »

    Cape DiamondCIVICUS s'entretient avec le journaliste lauréat Cape Diamond (Pyae Sone Win) au sujet des prochaines élections au Myanmar. Cape est un journaliste multimédia basé au Myanmar qui s’intéresse au domaine des droits humains, des crises et des conflits. Il travaille actuellement de manière indépendante pour l'Associated Press (AP). Il a assuré une couverture critique de la crise des réfugiés rohingyas et a travaillé avec de nombreux médias internationaux, dont Al Jazeera, ABC News et CBS. Il a également contribué au documentaire lauréat du BAFTA,Myanmar’s Killing Fields, et au filmThe Rohingya Exodus, médaillé d'or au Festival du film de New York.

    Prévues pour le 8 novembre 2020, ces élections seront les premières depuis 2015, date à laquelle elles ont abouti à une victoire écrasante de la Ligue nationale pour la démocratie (LND), et ne seront que les deuxièmes élections compétitives depuis 1990, date à laquelle la victoire écrasante de la LND a été annulée par l’armée.

    Quel est l'état des libertés civiles et de la société civile à l'approche des élections ?

    La situation de la liberté d'expression est très préoccupante. Au fil des années, des journalistes et des militants des droits de l'homme au Myanmar ont fait l'objet d'accusations pénales en raison de leur travail. Des lois restrictives, telles que la loi sur les télécommunications, la loi sur les associations illicites, la loi sur les secrets officiels et les dispositions du code pénal relatives à la diffamation, continuent d'être utilisées pour poursuivre les militants et les journalistes. La loi sur les défilés et rassemblements pacifiques a également été utilisée contre les manifestants.

    De nombreux partis politiques se sont plaints du fait que la Commission électorale de l'Union (CEU), l'organe électoral, a censuré des messages devant être diffusés à la télévision nationale avant les élections. Par exemple, Ko Ko Gyi, président du parti populaire, a déclaré que les changements apportés par la CEU dans son discours de campagne l'empêchaient d'exprimer pleinement la position politique de son parti sur les élections. Deux partis, le Parti démocratique pour une nouvelle société et la Force démocratique nationale, ont annulé leurs émissions électorales pour protester contre la censure.

    En même temps, les adversaires disent que le corps électoral est biaisé en faveur du parti au pouvoir, la LND, dirigé par Aung San Suu Kyi. C'est une question à laquelle nous devons être attentifs et dont nous devons parler afin de garantir des élections crédibles.

    Le corps électoral s’est-il rapproché de la société civile ?

    J'ai entendu dire que l'actuel CEU n'a pas cherché activement à établir un lien avec la société civile. Le CEU a d'abord interdit à l'Alliance du peuple pour des élections crédibles (APEC), l'un des plus grands groupes de surveillance des élections du pays, de surveiller les élections. La CEU a accusé l'APEC de ne pas être enregistrée en vertu de la loi régissant les organisations de la société civile et de recevoir des fonds de sources internationales. Bien que la CEU l'ait finalement autorisée à fonctionner, l'organisation éprouve des difficultés à le faire en raison des restrictions récemment imposées à cause de la COVID-19.

    Quelles sont les principales questions autour desquelles la campagne s'articulera ?

    La pandémie de la COVID-19 et la guerre civile en cours dans le pays sont nos principaux problèmes pour le moment. Il est très clair que le parti au pouvoir et le gouvernement ne prêtent pas suffisamment attention à la situation des minorités dans les régions qui souffrent de la guerre civile.

    Il est inquiétant que le pays traverse une pandémie, dont je pense qu'il n'a pas la capacité suffisante pour y faire face. Au 29 septembre 2020, nous avons eu un total de 11 000 cas signalés et 284 décès dus à la COVID-19. L'augmentation des infections au cours des dernières semaines est inquiétante, puisque nous n'avions eu qu'environ 400 cas confirmés en août. Je crains que la situation ne permette aux gens d'aller voter aux élections en toute sécurité.

    Plus de 20 partis politiques ont envoyé des demandes au corps électoral pour reporter les élections en raison de la pandémie, mais celles-ci ont été rejetées. Le parti au pouvoir n'est pas prêt à reporter les élections.

    Est-il possible de développer une campagne « normale » dans ce contexte ?

    Je ne pense pas qu'il soit possible d'avoir des rassemblements de campagne normaux comme ceux des dernières élections, celles de 2015, car nous sommes en pleine pandémie. Le gouvernement a pris plusieurs mesures pour lutter contre la propagation de la maladie, notamment l'interdiction de se réunir. Les partis politiques ne peuvent pas faire campagne dans des zones qui sont en situation de semi-confinement.

    Les grandes villes, telles que Yangon et sa région métropolitaine, ainsi que certaines municipalités de Mandalay, sont en semi-confinement, dans le cadre d'un programme que le gouvernement a appelé « Restez à la maison ». Au même temps, l'ensemble de l'État de Rakhine, qui connaît une guerre civile, est également en semi-confinement. J'ai bien peur que les habitants de la zone de guerre civile ne puissent pas aller voter.

    Pour s'adresser à leur public, les candidats utilisent à la fois les réseaux sociaux et les médias traditionnels. Toutefois, comme je l'ai déjà souligné, certains partis de l'opposition ont été censurés par la CSU. Certains membres de l'opposition ont dénoncé le traitement inéquitable de la CEU et du gouvernement, tandis que le parti au pouvoir utilise son pouvoir pour accroître sa popularité. Cela va clairement nuire aux chances électorales de l'opposition.

    Quels sont les défis spécifiques auxquels sont confrontés les candidats dans l'État de Rakhine ?

    Étant donné que tout l'État de Rakhine est soumis à des restrictions en raison de la COVID-19, les candidats ne peuvent pas faire campagne personnellement. C'est pourquoi ils font généralement campagne sur les réseaux sociaux. En même temps, dans de nombreuses municipalités de l'État de Rakhine, une coupure du service Internet a été imposée de façon prolongée en raison des combats continus entre l'armée arakanienne et les forces militaires. Je crains que les gens là-bas ne puissent pas obtenir suffisamment d'informations sur les élections.

    Le gouvernement du Myanmar utilise également la loi discriminatoire de 1982 sur la citoyenneté et la loi électorale pour priver les Rohingyas de leurs droits et les empêcher de se présenter aux élections. Les autorités électorales ont empêché le leader du Parti de la démocratie et des droits humains (PDDH) dirigé par les Rohingyas, Kyaw Min, de se présenter aux élections. Kyaw Min a été disqualifié avec deux autres candidats du PDDH parce que ses parents n'auraient pas été citoyens, comme l'exige la loi électorale. C'est l'un des nombreux outils utilisés pour opprimer le peuple Rohingya.

    En octobre, la CEU a lancé une application pour smartphone qui a été critiquée pour l'utilisation d'un label dérogatoire en référence aux musulmans rohingyas. L'application mVoter2020, qui vise à sensibiliser les électeurs, désigne au moins deux candidats de l'ethnie rohingya comme des « Bengalis », ce qui laisse entendre qu'ils sont des immigrants du Bangladesh, même si la plupart des Rohingyas vivent au Myanmar depuis des générations. Ce label est rejeté par de nombreux Rohingyas. De plus, aucun des plus d'un million de réfugiés Rohingyas au Bangladesh, ni des centaines de milliers de personnes dispersées dans d'autres pays, ne pourra voter.

    L'espace civique au Myanmar est décrit comme « répressif » par leCIVICUS Monitor.
    Suivez@cape_diamond sur Twitter.

     

  • MYANMAR : « Si le coup d’État n’est pas renversé, il y aura beaucoup plus de prisonniers politiques »

    CIVICUS parle du récent coup d’État militaire au Myanmar avec Bo Kyi, ancien prisonnier politique et co-fondateur de l’Association d’assistance aux prisonniers politiques (AAPP). Fondée en 2000 par d’anciens prisonniers politiques vivant en exil à la frontière entre la Thaïlande et le Myanmar, l’AAPP est basée à Mae Sot, en Thaïlande, et possède deux bureaux au Myanmar, ouverts depuis 2012. L’AAPP travaille pour la libération des prisonniers politiques et l’amélioration de leur vie après leur libération, avec des programmes visant à leur garantir l’accès à l’éducation, à la formation professionnelle, aux conseils en matière de santé mentale et aux soins de santé.

     

  • Myanmar elections show the regression of civic space over the last five years

    By Lisa Majumdar, Advocacy Officer, CIVICUS

    Amidst a flurry of high-profile elections this week, it will be Myanmar’s turn to go to the polls on 8 November. Nearly 100 political parties are contesting the country’s general election, with the upper and lower houses of the national, state and regional governments all to play for.

    This will be the second election in Myanmar since the end of military rule in 2011. But the contrast between the two could hardly be starker. While the 2015 elections saw a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) amid a groundswell of hope for democratic progress and human rights change, the upcoming election will take place in an environment of ongoing serious human rights violations, escalating attacks on democratic freedoms and discriminatory policies.

    Unfree and unfair

    The conditions for free and fair elections depend on an open civic space, where voters have access to information, can enjoy freedom of expression and opinion, and are able to organize and gather. Countries that purport to be democracies have a responsibility to ensure that these conditions are met, so that people can truly have a say in their own governance.

    But in Myanmar, these conditions are in short supply.

    As the CIVICUS Monitor has documented, there has been a sustained attack on civic space in the country over the last few years. Human rights defenders, journalists and critics have been criminalized and attacked for speaking up about human rights violations. A raft of old draconian laws are deployed by the government and military to silence dissent. 

    This already has created an unhealthy environment for elections. However, in the run-up to the election, authorities have compounded this by actively targeting electoral processes. 

    For example, Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC), which has been accused by human rights groups of making critical decisions without transparency, has censored the speeches of political parties that want to broadcast campaign materials on state-run TV and radio networks. The election commission’s stringent guidelines on the content of speeches means that criticism of government policies by opposition parties has essentially been banned from state-run airwaves, denying voters crucial information. 

    Government-imposed internet restrictions in Rakhine and Chin States – which have now lasted for more than a year – has had a serious impact on the ability of voters in the affected areas to access information about candidates, parties, and their positions. 

    The government’s response to COVID-19 had a negative impact on media freedom, affecting the ability of the electorate to be informed. Journalists and media workers have been declared a nonessential business and face travel restrictions due to the government’s strict stay-at-home orders, hindering comprehensive coverage. Four national newspapers – the Standard Times, 7 Day Daily, the Myanmar Times, and the Voice Daily – announced their decision to suspend circulation of their newspapers from 23 September 2020. Notably, the publication of state-owned newspaper will not be affected. 

    Discriminatory policies 

    Most egregiously, though, the Myanmar government is preventing people from voting or from standing for election altogether. 

    It has systematically and deliberately disenfranchised voters from ethnic minorities, using the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law and the Election Law to prevent Rohingya candidates from running for office, even though most Rohingya families have lived in Myanmar for generations. 

    They include Abdul Rasheed, a Yangon resident whose father was a civil servant and who was born and has lived his whole life in Myanmar. Kyaw Min, the chairperson of the Democracy and Human Rights party, has also been barred despite having run in the 1990 election and spending years as a political prisoner alongside thousands of NLD activists and others.

    The authorities have barred an estimated 600,000 Rohingya from registering to vote in the election. None of the million Rohingya who fled genocide in Myanmar for neighbouring Bangladesh will be allowed to vote. This adds yet another layer of repression and discrimination on a community that has experienced ethnic cleansing and a systematic denial of their rights in recent years. 

    Voting has been suspended or cancelled in various constituencies in Kachin, Karen, Mon, Rakhine, and Shan States, and the Bago Region, with the election commission citing security concerns. As a result, over 1.5 million people will not be able to vote.

    It is a common feature of would-be autocrats to attempt to suppress the votes of those who disagree with, or are negatively impacted by, their policies. Myanmar is not the only country to attempt to do so; it is not even the only country to have done so this week. But for a country where optimism for change and freedom shone so brightly five years ago, this represents a bleak failure of democratic progress. 

    The two elections, five years apart, have bookended a downward spiral into gross human rights violations, attacks against dissenters, and a curtailment of democratic freedoms. While some countries have spoken up and stood by human rights defenders and victims of violations, other countries, particularly in the Southeast Asian region, have failed miserably to call out Myanmar on its actions.  Whatever the outcome of this elections – marred already by acts of censorship, racist voter suppression and other restrictions – we all must redouble our efforts to support civil society and activists to reverse the democratic regression we have witnessed since the 2015 elections.

     

  • MYANMAR: ‘Opposition parties complain that the election body censors their messaging'

    Cape DiamondCIVICUS speaks to award-winning journalist Cape Diamond (Pyae Sone Win) about the upcoming elections in Myanmar. Cape is a multimedia journalist based in Myanmar, covering issues of human rights, crisis and conflict. Currently freelancing for the Associated Press (AP), he has provided critical coverage during the Rohingya crisis and contributed to numerous international outlets, including Al Jazeera, ABC News and CBS. He also contributed to the BAFTA Award-winning documentaryMyanmar’s Killing Fields and New York Film Festival gold medal award-winner The Rohingya Exodus.

     

    Scheduled on 8 November 2020, the election will be Myanmar’s first since 2015, which resulted in a landslide victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD), and only the second competitive election since 1990, when the military annulled the NLD’s overwhelming victory.

    What is the situation for civic freedoms and civil society ahead of the elections?

    The situation for the freedom of speech is very concerning. Over the years, journalists and rights activists in Myanmar have been criminally charged for their work. Restrictive laws, including the Telecommunications Law, the Unlawful Associations Act, the Official Secrets Act and defamation provisions in the Penal Code, continue to be used to prosecute activists and journalists. The Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law has been used against those protesting.

    Many political parties have raised complaints that the Union Election Commission (UEC), the electoral body, has censored the messages that are set for broadcast on national TV ahead of the elections. For example, Ko Ko Gyi, chairman of the People's Party, said that the edits that the UEC made to his election campaign speech prevent him from airing the party's full political stance ahead of the elections. Two parties – the Democratic Party for a New Society and the National Democratic Force – cancelled their election broadcasts in protest against censorship.

    At the same time, critics say that the electoral body is biased in favour of the ruling party, the NLD led by Aung San Suu Kyi. It’s something that we should keep our eyes on and speak out about to ensure credible elections.

    Has the electoral body engaged with civil society?

    I’ve been hearing that the current UEC is not that actively engaging with civil society. They initially barred the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE), one of the largest election monitoring groups in the country, from monitoring the election. The UEC accused PACE of not being registered under the law that applies to civil society organisations and of receiving funding from international sources. Even though the UEC subsequently allowed PACE to operate, the organisation is struggling to proceed due to the newly imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

    What are the main issues the campaign will revolve around?

    The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing civil war across the country are the main issues for us at the moment. It’s very clear that the ruling party and the government are not paying enough attention to the situation of minorities in regions experiencing civil war. 

    It’s worrying that the country is undergoing a pandemic, which I believe it does not have enough capacity to handle. As of 29 September 2020, we have had a total of 11,000 reported cases and 284 deaths due to COVID-19. A surge of infections over the last few weeks has been worrying, as we only had around 400 confirmed cases in August. I am concerned about whether the environment will be safe for people to go out and vote on the election days. 

    More than 20 political parties have sent requests to the electoral body to postpone the elections due to the pandemic, but they were rejected. The ruling party is not willing to have the elections postponed.

    Will it be possible to have a ‘normal’ campaign in this context? 

    I don’t think it’s possible to have normal campaign rallies such as those of the previous election in 2015, because we are in a pandemic. The government has taken several measures to combat the spread of the disease, including orders against gatherings of people. Political parties are not allowed to organise their campaigns in semi-lockdown areas.

    Major cities like Yangon and the Yangon Region, as well as some townships in Mandalay, are under semi-lockdown, which the government calls the Stay-At-Home programme. At the same time, the whole of Rakhine State, which is experiencing civil war, is also on semi-lockdown. I am afraid people in the civil war zone will not be able to go out and vote.

    Candidates are using both mainstream and social media to reach their audiences. However, as noted earlier, some opposition parties have been censored by the UEC. Some opposition members have denounced unfair treatment by the UEC and the government, while the ruling party is using its power to expand its popularity. This will clearly harm the electoral chances of the opposition.

    What specific challenges do candidates face in Rakhine State?

    As the whole of Rakhine State is under COVID-19 restrictions, candidates are not able to campaign in person. Therefore, they are mostly campaigning on social media. At the same time, a long internet shutdown has been in place in many townships in Rakhine State, imposed due to ongoing fighting between the Arakan Army and the military. I am concerned about whether people will be able to get enough information around the elections.

    The Myanmar government is also using the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law and the Election Law to disenfranchise Rohingya people and block them from running for political office. Election officials barred Kyaw Min, head of the Rohingya-led Democracy and Human Rights Party (DHRP), from running. He was disqualified along with two other DHRP candidates because their parents were allegedly not citizens, as required by election law. This is one of the various tools used to oppress the Rohingya population.

    In October, the UEC released a smartphone app that was criticised over its use of a derogatory label for Rohingya Muslims. The mVoter2020 app, aimed at improving voter awareness, labels at least two candidates from the Rohingya ethnic group as ‘Bengali’, a term that implies they are immigrants from Bangladesh, although most have lived in Myanmar for generations. This label is rejected by many Rohingya people. Additionally, none of the one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and another several hundred thousand dispersed in other countries will be allowed to vote.

    Civic space in Myanmar is rated asrepressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Follow@cape_diamond on Twitter.

     

  • MYANMAR: “If this coup is not overturned, there will be many more political prisoners”

    CIVICUS speaks about the recent military coup in Myanmar with Bo Kyi, a former political prisoner and co-founder of theAssistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP). Founded in 2000 by former political prisoners living in exile on the Thai-Myanmar border, AAPP has its headquarters in Mae Sot, Thailand and two offices in Myanmar that opened in 2012. AAPP advocates for the release of political prisoners and the improvement of their lives after their release, with programmes aimed at ensuring access to education, vocational training, mental health counselling and healthcare.

     

  • MYANMAR: “Los partidos de oposición se quejan de que el organismo electoral censura su discurso”

    Cape DiamondCIVICUS conversa con el galardonado periodista Cape Diamond (Pyae Sone Win) acerca de las próximas elecciones en Myanmar. Cape es un periodista multimedia basado en Myanmar que cubre temas de derechos humanos, crisis y conflicto. Actualmente trabaja en forma independiente para Associated Press (AP). Ha cubierto críticamente la crisis de los refugiados rohingya y ha colaborado con numerosos medios internacionales, incluidos Al Jazeera, ABC News y CBS. También contribuyó al documental ganador del premio BAFTA,Myanmar’s Killing Fields, y al ganador de la medalla de oro en el Festival de Cine de Nueva York,The Rohingya Exodus.

     

    Programadas para el 8 de noviembre de 2020, estas elecciones serán las primeras desde 2015, cuando resultaron en una victoria aplastante para la Liga Nacional para la Democracia (LND), y serán apenas las segundas elecciones competitivas desde 1990, cuando la abrumadora victoria de la LND fue anulada por el ejército.

    ¿Cuál es la situación de las libertades cívicas y la sociedad civil en vísperas de las elecciones?

    La situación de la libertad de expresión es muy preocupante. A lo largo de los años, periodistas y activistas de derechos humanos de Myanmar han sufrido acusaciones penales a causa de su trabajo. Se siguen utilizando leyes restrictivas, como la Ley de Telecomunicaciones, la Ley de Asociaciones Ilícitas, la Ley de Secretos Oficiales y las disposiciones sobre difamación del Código Penal, para enjuiciar a activistas y periodistas. También se ha utilizado la Ley de Procesión y Reunión Pacífica contra los manifestantes.

    Muchos partidos políticos se han quejado de que la Comisión Electoral de la Unión (UEC), el órgano electoral, ha censurado los mensajes que emitirán en la televisión nacional antes de las elecciones. Por ejemplo, Ko Ko Gyi, presidente del Partido Popular, dijo que las modificaciones que hizo la UEC en su discurso de campaña le impiden expresar plenamente la postura política de su partido frente a las elecciones. Dos partidos, el Partido Democrático para una Nueva Sociedad y Fuerza Nacional Democrática, cancelaron sus transmisiones electorales en protesta por la censura.

    Al mismo tiempo, los críticos dicen que el órgano electoral está predispuesto a favor del partido gobernante, el NLD, que lidera Aung San Suu Kyi. Es un tema al que debemos estar atentos y sobre el cual tenemos que hablar para garantizar elecciones creíbles.

    ¿Ha habido acercamientos del órgano electoral a la sociedad civil?

    He escuchado que la actual UEC no ha buscado activamente un vínculo con la sociedad civil. La UEC inicialmente prohibió que la Alianza Popular para unas Elecciones Creíbles (PACE), uno de los grupos de monitoreo electoral más grandes del país, monitoreara las elecciones. La UEC acusó a la PACE de no estar registrada bajo la ley que rige a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y de recibir financiamiento de fuentes internacionales. A pesar de que la UEC acabo permitiéndole operar, la organización está experimentando dificultades para hacerlo, debido a las restricciones recientemente impuestas a causa del COVID-19.

    ¿Cuáles son los principales temas en torno de los cuales girará la campaña?

    La pandemia de COVID-19 y la guerra civil en curso en el país son nuestros principales problemas en este momento. Está muy claro que el partido gobernante y el gobierno no están prestando suficiente atención a la situación de las minorías en las regiones que sufren la guerra civil.

    Es preocupante que el país esté atravesando una pandemia, que creo que no tiene suficiente capacidad para manejar. Al 29 de septiembre de 2020, hemos tenido un total de 11,000 casos reportados y 284 muertes a causa del COVID-19. El aumento de las infecciones en las últimas semanas ha sido preocupante, ya que en agosto solo tuvimos alrededor de 400 casos confirmados. Me preocupa que la situación sea segura para que la gente salga a votar en las elecciones.

    Más de 20 partidos políticos han enviado al órgano electoral solicitudes para que postergue las elecciones debido a la pandemia, pero fueron rechazadas. El partido gobernante no está dispuesto a posponer las elecciones.

    ¿Será posible desarrollar una campaña “normal” en este contexto?

    No creo que sea posible tener mítines de campaña normales como los de las elecciones pasadas, las de 2015, ya que estamos en plena pandemia. El gobierno ha tomado varias medidas para combatir la propagación de la enfermedad, entre ellas la prohibición de las reuniones de personas. Los partidos políticos no pueden hacer campaña en las áreas que están en situación de semi-confinamiento.

    Las principales ciudades, como Yangon y su región metropolitana, así como algunos municipios de Mandalay, están en semi-confinamiento, bajo un programa que el gobierno ha llamado “Quédate en casa”. Al mismo tiempo, todo el estado de Rakhine, que está experimentando la guerra civil, también se encuentra en semi-confinamiento. Me temo que la gente en la zona de guerra civil no pueda salir a votar.

    Para dirigirse a sus públicos, los candidatos utilizan tanto las redes sociales como los medios convencionales. Sin embargo, como señalé anteriormente, algunos partidos opositores han sido censurados por la UEC. Algunos integrantes de la oposición han denunciado un trato injusto por parte de la UEC y el gobierno, mientras que el partido gobernante está usando su poder para expandir su popularidad. Esto claramente perjudicará las chances electorales de la oposición.

    ¿Qué desafíos específicos enfrentan los candidatos en el estado de Rakhine?

    Como todo el estado de Rakhine está sujeto a restricciones por el COVID-19, los candidatos no pueden hacer campaña en forma presencial. Por lo tanto, en general realizan campañas en las redes sociales. Al mismo tiempo, en muchos municipios del estado de Rakhine ha habido un prolongado corte del servicio de Internet, impuesto a causa de los combates en curso entre el Ejército de Arakan y las fuerzas militares. Me preocupa que la gente allí no pueda obtener suficiente información en torno de las elecciones.

    El gobierno de Myanmar también está utilizando la discriminatoria Ley de Ciudadanía de 1982 y la Ley Electoral para privar de sus derechos a las personas rohingya y evitar que se postulen para competir por cargos políticos. Los funcionarios electorales impidieron la presentación de la candidatura de Kyaw Min, líder del Partido de la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos (DHRP), liderado por personas rohingya. Kyaw Min fue descalificado junto con otros dos candidatos del DHRP porque supuestamente sus padres no eran ciudadanos, como lo exige la ley electoral. Esta es una de las diversas herramientas que se utilizan para oprimir a la población rohingya.

    En octubre, la UEC lanzó una aplicación para teléfonos inteligentes que fue criticada por utilizar un rótulo despectivo en referencia a las personas musulmanas rohingya. La aplicación mVoter2020, destinada a generar conciencia entre los votantes, se refiere a por lo menos dos candidatos del grupo étnico rohingya como “bengalíes”, lo cual sugiere que se trata de inmigrantes procedentes de Bangladesh, pese a que la mayoría de las personas rohingya ha vivido en Myanmar durante generaciones. Esta etiqueta es rechazada por muchos rohingya. Además, no podrá votar ninguno de los más de un millón de rohingya refugiados en Bangladesh, ni tampoco los cientos de miles dispersos en otros países.

    El espacio cívico enMyanmar es calificado como “represivo” por elCIVICUS Monitor.

    Siga a@cape_diamond en Twitter. 

     

  • MYANMAR: “Si el golpe no se revierte, habrá muchos más presos políticos”

    CIVICUS conversa sobre el reciente golpe militar en Myanmar con Bo Kyi, ex preso político y cofundador de la Asociación de Asistencia a Presos Políticos (AAPP). Fundada en 2000 por antiguos presos políticos que viven exiliados en la frontera entre Tailandia y Myanmar, AAPP tiene su sede en Mae Sot (Tailandia) y dos oficinas en Myanmar que abrieron en 2012. La AAPP aboga por la liberación de los presos políticos y el mejoramiento de sus vidas tras su puesta en libertad, con programas destinados a garantizar su acceso a la educación, la formación profesional, el asesoramiento en salud mental y la asistencia sanitaria.

     

  • Myanmar: A return to military dictatorship must be prevented

    Special session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar

    CIVICUS thanks the UK and EU for your leadership in calling for this Special Session. The situation in Myanmar for our partners and members is grave, critical and moving fast; the risk of increasingly severe violations to fundamental freedoms and a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation cannot be overstated. We welcome that the Council, led by the UK and the EU, is willing and able to respond to this emergency with speed. 

    The people of Myanmar have spoken, and continue to speak out, at grave personal risk. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has already raised deep fears of a violent crackdown on dissenting voices. We see the beginning of this crackdown already. Activists have been detained; peaceful protesters suppressed with excessive force. Journalists have been threatened. Internet was briefly shut down, plunging the country into a communication blackout and there are plans to introduce new restrictive cyber laws. 

    The warning signs are ominous: Myanmar risks returning to the days of mass incarceration of human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists, violent crackdowns on mass protests, and isolation both inside and outside.  

    Steps taken towards democracy, however tentative and fragile and imperfect, must be protected and a return to military dictatorship prevented.  

    The most valuable role for the Human Rights Council at this critical point would be to put into place measures of enhanced monitoring and reporting which protects those on the ground subject to human rights violations, contributes to further action if necessary, and forwards accountability for such violations. It is essential that a strong resolution is adopted by the Council to achieve this. 

    The opportunity for the Council to take strong action to this end is right in front of it. 


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

     

     

  • Myanmar: Continued crackdown on civil society undermines efforts to address COVID-19

    Statement at the 44th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar


    CIVICUS welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s update, and looks forward to our future engagement.

    This is a critical time in Myanmar, where a crackdown on expression, peaceful assembly and access to information is a barrier to accountability and undermines the country’s efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals have criminalised for speaking out, reporting or protesting again human rights violations.

    Members of the Peacock Generation, a slam poetry troupe, who were convicted under the Telecommunications Act and Section 505(a) of the Penal Code remain in prison for their satirical criticism of the government. The Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law has been used against those protesting the internet blackout in Rakhine and Chin states. These laws, and countless others, make up the repressive legal framework used against independent journalists and human rights defenders who speak out on crimes perpetrated by the government.

    The report of the IIMM presented during the 42nd Session of this council said that Myanmar’s future depends on the clear demonstration that its international crimes will not be tolerated. It also depends on those in Myanmar who speak out on violations and advocate for positive change being listened to, rather than persecuted. We call on the Myanmar government to do so, and on the international community to stand by these activists.

    We ask the Special Rapporteur: what are your priorities for your time in this mandate, and how do you see the role of an open civic space in achieving accountability? Finally, how can civil society support you in your work?


    Civic space in Kuwait is currently rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    Current council members:

    Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, SomaliaSudan, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela

    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

  • Myanmar: Drop Charges Against Three Kachin Activists 

    Joint Statement by CIVICUS and Amnesty International

    Myanmar authorities must immediately drop defamation charges against three Kachin activists who led a peaceful rally in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. The march was to call for humanitarian access to thousands of displaced civilians and for an end to the armed conflicts in northern Myanmar. 

    The prosecution of the activists – and other recent cases of politically motivated arrest and imprisonment – represent an alarming return to practices that characterized Myanmar’s decades of direct military rule. 

    Myanmar-anti-war-protestsOn 3 September 2018, Lum Zawng (m), Nang Pu (f), and Zau Jet (m) were charged under Section 500 of the Penal Code with defamation of the Myanmar military. The charges relate to statements they made at a peaceful rally on 30 April 2018 and at a press conference the next day, following major escalation in fighting between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic armed organization in Kachin State. The violence displaced more than 5,000 civilians, 2,000 of whom were trapped for several weeks in a forest near the village of Aung Lawt without access to humanitarian assistance or safe passage from the area. 

    In response, on 30 April, thousands of people gathered peacefully in Myitkyina to demand the rescue of trapped civilians, the resumption of humanitarian access and an end to the conflict. Lawyer Lum Zawng was one of the organizers of the rally where protesters called for the military to stop aerial attacks on civilians. The authorities have charged him with defamation. 

    The other two activists, Nang Pu, Director of the Htoi Gender and Development Foundation, and Zau Jet, Chairman of the Kachin National Social Development Foundation, are also facing defamation charges for comments they made at a press conference after the rally. The two had spoken about the situation of displaced civilians in the Hpakant area and about reports of threats against and ill-treatment of civilians by Myanmar soldiers. If convicted, they each face up to two years in prison. 

    The prosecution of Lum Zawng, Nang Pu and Zau Jet is clearly an attempt by the Myanmar authorities to intimidate, harass and silence community leaders and human rights defenders who speak out about military abuses and the impact on civilian populations. Amnesty International and global civil society alliance, CIVICUS call on the Myanmar authorities to immediately drop the charges against the three activists. 

    The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are enshrined in Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Under international human rights law and standards, certain restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly may be imposed, but only in narrow, clearly defined circumstances. Such restrictions must be provided by law; be limited to certain specified purposes such as national security, public order or respect of the rights or reputation of others; and be necessary and proportionate to the achievement of one of those permissible purposes. 

    Amnesty International and CIVICUS are concerned about a range of laws in Myanmar – including Section 500 of the Penal Code – which are incompatible with the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and which are used to arrest, prosecute and imprison human rights defenders and other peaceful activists. Both organizations urge the Myanmar authorities – in particular Parliament – to take immediate action to review and repeal or else amend all such laws to bring them into line with international human rights law and standards. 

    Human rights defenders play a vital role in the protection and promotion of human rights, and it is crucial that they are able to speak out freely on human rights violations, including those committed by the military against civilians in areas of armed conflict, without fear of repercussions. Under Article 2 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, each state has a duty to create the conditions necessary to defend human rights within their jurisdictions. Amnesty International and CIVICUS call on the government of Myanmar to ensure an environment in which it is possible to defend human rights without fear of reprisal or intimidation.

    Background
    The armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has been ongoing since June 2011, after a 17-year ceasefire ended. Since the resumption of hostilities, fighting has spread to other parts of northern Myanmar, involving a myriad of armed groups.

    The Myanmar military has committed war crimes and other gross human rights violations against civilians, particularly from ethnic minorities, as documented in detail by Amnesty International in a June 2017 report and by the UN Fact-Finding Mission in a report presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2018. These crimes and violations include unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. Ethnic armed groups have also committed abuses against civilians. Investigations into allegations of human rights violations and crimes under international law are rare and perpetrators seldom, if ever, held to account, contributing to a climate of impunity in the country. 

    More than 100,000 people have been internally displaced across the conflict-affected areas of northern Myanmar since 2011, many of them displaced multiple times. The humanitarian situation of internally displaced people (IDPs) remains serious, with ongoing concerns about conditions in IDP camps, including access to food, shelter, clean water and sanitation. In addition, the authorities – both civilian and military – have imposed severe restrictions on humanitarian access, exacerbating the needs of the displaced population.

    ENDS

    For more information, contact:

    Josef Benedict
    josef.benedict{AT}civicus.org

     

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