Oral Statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

12/03/2018
Statement

Madam Vice-President, Madam Rapporteur, members of the Fact-Finding Mission,

FIDH welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s report and the Fact-Finding Mission’s oral update.

We condemn the Myanmar government’s ongoing efforts to erase Rohingya existence and its continued denial and cover up of the atrocities committed. In less than 18 months, security forces have almost emptied Rakhine State of its entire Rohingya population.

The government’s recent claim that “the vast majority of Muslims” in Rakhine State remain in their villages is blatantly false. The military’s explanation that the massive Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh is the result of terrorists fleeing with their family members is preposterous and insulting.

The government’s refusal to grant the Special Rapporteur and the Fact-Finding Mission access to Myanmar shows that it is unwilling to foster accountability for crimes committed in ethnic minority areas, including in Kachin and Shan States. We urge the Council to stand firm on the legitimate mandate of the Special Rapporteur and the Fact-Finding Mission to work unhindered by threats and obstruction. We support the High Commissioner’s call for the Council to ask the General Assembly to establish a new independent and impartial mechanism to bring perpetrators to justice.

We remain disturbed by the government’s failure to address other long-standing human rights issues. Nearly 100 political prisoners, including human rights defenders, journalists, activists, and farmers, remain behind bars. They must be immediately released.

Old and new laws that are inconsistent with international standards remain an obstacle to the full enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. These draconian laws must be urgently scrapped or significantly reformed.

As the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders turns 20, defenders across the country remain as vulnerable as ever. At least five of them have been killed over the past 18 months and, in most cases, no effective investigations have been conducted. It is imperative that the government adopts specific measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders.

Thank you.

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