Tag Archive: Myanmar


Myanmar’s parliament was to debate on Monday a proposal to abolish a provision in the 1975 State Protection Act that allows the government to restrict the fundamental rights of people suspected of “endangering state sovereignty and security, public peace and tranquility.”

The proposal is the latest among legislative initiatives that are part of Myanmar’s “reform process,” although freedoms of expression, assembly and association continue to be systematically violated.

The purported legislative reforms, with the enactment of several new laws and the review of existing ones, have largely resulted in new forms of controls and restrictions that are applied selectively.

Myanmar’s reform process has resulted in little, if any, improvement on the respect for fundamental freedoms on the ground. It has become largely an empty showcase to appease the international community.

A fact finding mission conducted by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) from October 24 to 30 discovered that the rights to peaceful assembly and of association of particular groups, including former political prisoners, labor rights activists, student unions, and members of ethnic nationalities, are still being denied.

An array of laws that restrict the fundamental freedoms of the rights to expression, assembly and association, including the Emergency Act, the Unlawful Association Act, and the 1988 law relating to the formation of associations, remain.

The right to freedom of assembly, in particular, has been denied to groups that are considered “sensitive” or threatening to the government.

In the last two months alone, scores of individuals have been arrested for organizing and participating in peaceful assemblies.

In September, 13 leaders, organizers, and participants of peaceful assemblies to mark International Peace Day were summoned and subsequently charged under the 2012 Decree on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession after their application for a permit was rejected by the government.

Leaders and organizers of peaceful demonstrations, including protest actions against a mining project in the Letpadaung region, are also facing threats and harassment from authorities.

However, some street demonstrations were allowed to proceed, including the anti-Rohingya protest actions of Buddhist monks and university students in Rakhine state.

These double standards in the implementation of the law call into question the universal principles of Buddhism on peace, harmony, wisdom and understanding.

The continued violations of fundamental freedoms and new forms of control expose the empty façade of Myanmar’s reform process. Human rights protection in Myanmar will remain illusory if fundamental freedoms are not properly safeguarded in the current legal reforms.

 

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Political will plus conviction of all can achieve the goal of a free and just society
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     Renato Mabunga, Manila Philippines February 17, 2012

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Recent developments in Myanmar have brought to the fore a growing movement in previously isolated countries in Southeast Asia.

These countries have had no choice but to reach out and work together, either voluntarily or involuntarily, because of the emergence of new regional alliances, advances in telecommunications, biotechnology and transportation that has prompted unprecedented demographic shifts.

Countries like the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, which all have suffered from extreme poverty and illiteracy, are now starting to talk more openly and loudly about human rights protection, though their performance on this issue still fails to meet  international expectations and the subject is still treated in a selective, if not politicized, manner.

Most of these governments continue to hide behind the cloak of “non-interference in national affairs” when confronted with compliance to international laws. What continues to be generally lacking is the political will and conviction to apply governance based on a rights-based approach.

Issues are tackled devoid of sincerity and accountability. They are handled as political gimmickry often at the expense of the basic entitlements of the people. “Active” citizens have not been developed. People seldom know their rights while education, an essential precondition for the implementation of human rights, continues to be wanting.

A comprehensive and integrated approach is called for in the region to develop education and subsequently human rights.  A similar effort is called for to bring about changes in attitudes.

In this part of the world, states need to ensure domestic mechanisms and remedies are in place. Mechanisms should lay out the principles of consultation, non-discrimination and active participation of stakeholders.

Democratic institutions should take root and perform their mandate free from political influence or “pay-offs.” Processes need to be people-centered, participatory and environmentally sound, and not only focused on economic growth.

Priority must be given to poverty elimination, integration of women into the development process, self-reliance and self-determination of people and governments, and to the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups.

Proposed plans of action and programs coming from these countries must be deliberated carefully and costed.

Civil society and non-governmental organizations should also play a vital role in shaping and evolving a democracy. Their credibility lies in responsible and constructive engagements with grassroots movements

There are many challenges today when it comes to incorporating human rights in the affairs of state. Basic to all of these is the knowledge that human rights are a responsibility of all, for all.

continue reading: http://www.ucanews.com/2012/02/17/rights-challenges-in-southeast-asia/

 

by Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Bali, Sunday 27 November 2010

Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends

It is with great pleasure that I address all of you today at the start of the 4th Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights.

Meeting you today reminds me that the creation of a human rights system for the ASEAN region is so much more than the establishment of an intergovernmental mechanism.  As I look around and see faces from across Southeast Asia, I am reminded that in this region of great diversity, it is the creation of regional civil society networks that has been one of the most important and encouraging developments in recent years.

I was also pleased to meet this morning with representatives of the four national human rights institutions in ASEAN countries, and encouraged to see them working together closely with you.

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