Thu 4 Sep 2014
Filed under: Human Rights,International,News
Rights groups called on the European Union ahead of Thein Sein’s visit to Europe to demonstrate its support for human rights in Myanmar by introducing a resolution on the country at the next United Nations General Assembly that stresses the need to protect human rights.
“We urge the EU to ensure the resolution addresses the many key human rights concerns that remain in Myanmar, including the situation of ethnic minorities, the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders and activists, and the lack of accountability for human rights violations,” said the letter sent to the EU a day ahead of Thein Sein’s arrival in Germany.
The letter is signed by Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights and its member organisations, and the Alternative Asean Network on Burma.
They call on the EU and its member states to ensure continued international engagement on the human rights situation in Myanmar by again introducing a resolution on the country at the UN’s General Assembly in October. 2014. “A failure to retain a robust … resolution on Myanmar would endanger progress on human rights, which has increasingly come under threat this year,” the letter warns.
“Freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly remain severely restricted in Myanmar,” it says. “President Thein Sein failed to keep his promise to release all prisoners of conscience by the end of 2013. So far in 2014, scores of human rights defenders, political activists and farmers have been arrested or imprisoned simply for the peaceful exercise of their human rights; at least 70 political prisoners –including prisoners of conscience –remain behind bars,” the letter adds.
The arrest and imprisonment of journalists have also undermined Media reforms, it says.
Resolutions on the human rights situation in Myanmar from the UN’s General Assembly have for the past 23 years been a critical force demonstrating the international community’s support for human rights in Myanmar, the three groups say. “The EU has historically played a key role in these discussions, sponsoring the resolution, which has included important recommendations concerning the country’s human rights challenges.”
The three groups say they recognise the EU’s potential to influence progress on human rights in Myanmar and welcome the recently launched EU-Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue, calling it an “important opportunity for engagement on human rights”.
“However, the human rights situation in Myanmar remains serious. Myanmar is failing to make progress in several important areas and has slid back worryingly in others, just over a year before the country is due to hold general elections. These concerns demonstrate the need for sustained EU engagement at the multilateral level,” the letter says.
The letter says that the situation in Myanmar’s ethnic minority areas deteriorated this year. “Violations of international humanitarian and human rights law continue in Kachin and Northern Shan states. Unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, rape and other crimes of sexual violence and forced labour – in particular by the Myanmar security forces – continue to be reported,” it says. “However, impunity persists for such violations, with perpetrators rarely, if ever, brought to justice,” it adds.
President Thein Sein began his visit to Europe on September 2 in Germany. He will also visit Switzerland and the Netherlands.