Myanmar: Rights violations affecting region, Asean must apply pressure, says UN expert

2
126
A reception point for Rohingya refugees at Haria Khali Primary School in Sabrang Union of Teknaf Upazila, in Bangladesh. OCHA/Anthony Burke/UN News Centre

Human rights violations in Myanmar are creating increasingly serious issues for South and South East Asia, a UN expert said on 18 July 2019, urging stronger action by regional countries to address potential peace and security concerns.

Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee cited the nearly 1.5 million refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, trafficking and smuggling of people from Myanmar and the drug trade within and outside the region as examples of deepening concerns.

Lee, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, continues to be denied access to the country and concluded her 11-day mission to Thailand and Malaysia on 18 July.

“It is incumbent on Myanmar’s neighbours to acknowledge these most serious issues and that they have been created by Myanmar. The continuing gross violations of human rights in Myanmar jeopardise the lives of people around that country and relentlessly impact Myanmar’s neighbours in such a way that could threaten South and South East Asian peace and security.”

The special rapporteur urged regional states to take a stronger position. “When states in this region engage with Myanmar, human rights should firmly be on the agenda. I therefore most strongly urge Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) to prioritise human rights in Myanmar, and to hold the government of Myanmar to its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.”

During her visit, Lee received reports that the conflict between the Tatmadaw and the rebel Arakan Army rages on and that human rights violations and abuses against the civilian population are worsening.

READ MORE:  Malaysia needs to enact a law on refugees, asylum seekers

The total number displaced by the conflict since January could now be as high as 55,000 across Chin and Rakhine States. “The situation is urgent and deserves more attention from the international community,” said the expert.

The Myanmar government’s almost month-long mobile internet shutdown in nine townships in northern Rakhine and southern Chin was unprecedented and unacceptable, Lee said.

“It is now monsoon season in Myanmar and there have been terrible floods in three townships in Rakhine state. There is no access to mobile internet in any of those townships, meaning that people were not adequately prepared for or warned of the floods that occurred. This has resulted in displacement and houses being destroyed.”

Lee also spoke to people from Myanmar who have grave concerns about the way that hate speech and misinformation campaigns are being waged on social media. It appears that these campaigns are getting more sophisticated, coordinated and strategic, using coded language to get around content restrictions to continue to spread hateful messages.

She said social media companies are taking inadequate and inconsistent action; anything done should be in a transparent manner and in close consultation with civil society and technology organisations in Myanmar.

She was distressed that on her mission she received reports of women and girls, some as young as nine, being trafficked from northern Myanmar to neighbouring countries for sex work. Years of conflict in northern Shan and Kachin states has left families financially desperate, making women and girls vulnerable to human trafficking.

The special rapporteur said it is incumbent on the international community to bring about criminal justice in Myanmar. She also said that victims need to receive reparations for the harm caused to them and they have a right to know the truth about what happened to them, their family members and their communities. Solid guarantees that violations that have occurred in the past, and continue to occur now, will not happen again in the future are also essential.

READ MORE:  UN experts concerned by detention, torture of ethnic Rakhine men, boys

“The first step for this to happen is for the government and the military to reverse its stance of denial, and to recognise what the people of Myanmar have suffered at their hands. The countries in this region and Asean have a large role to play in persuading Myanmar to bring about this fundamental shift.”

Source: United Nations

(Visited 123 times, 1 visits today)
Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.

2
Join the conversation

avatar
750
2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
Bennie GohPeck Sin Chew Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Bennie Goh

Mind our own business

Peck Sin Chew

ASEAN do the needful now!