Author Archives: Aye Win

End of mission statement by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

End of mission statement by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

Dhaka 8 July 2018

I am pleased to present my end of mission statement as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. Thank you for your attendance and the opportunity to address you this afternoon.

Since December 2017, the Myanmar Government has not allowed me to visit Myanmar to carry out my work mandated by the Human Rights Council.  Following renewal of my mandate in March, I had also requested the Government of India to facilitate a visit to India so I could meet with Myanmar refugees in New Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Mizoram, but received no response.

Before I proceed further, let me take this opportunity to thank the Government of Bangladesh for always welcoming me and facilitating my visit.  The UN entities in Bangladesh, particularly the Resident Coordinator’s Office, have been extremely helpful in facilitating my visit, and I am grateful to the Inter Sector Coordination Group and those who provided support in Cox’s Bazar. As the Government denied my access to Myanmar, I was only able to meet people in Bangladesh, the neighbouring country that hosts over one million refugees from Myanmar. In Dhaka, I met with Government, UN agencies and INGOs, and in Cox’s Bazar I met Rohingya refugees in a number of camps and settlements as well as the Government, UN, humanitarian and protection actors and NGOs. I also thank the UN Country Team in Myanmar for speaking with me. I took many photos of what I saw, and will upload them on Flickr, the link will be on my Special Rapporteur webpage.

What I am presenting today are preliminary findings resulting from this visit. My report to the Third Committee of the 73rd UN General Assembly in October will contain more detailed findings.

Recently, I have received more questions than ever about my mandate and work on Myanmar. I have also read reports that state that I no longer hold the mandate, or that I have been replaced by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations. At the outset, I would like to clarify that my mandate was established by the Human Rights Council, a body that was established in 2006 pursuant to the resolution 60/251 of the General Assembly. My mandate was renewed in March this year for a period of one year. The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert who is mandated to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly every year. My role is therefore different to that of the Special Envoy, an individual dignitary who is appointed by the Secretary General to “provide good offices and to pursue discussion” on a range of issues.

Additionally, through my recent discussions, I see the need to provide clarification on two other issues. First, the critical issue of status. The people who fled decades-long systematic discrimination and recent extreme violence in Myanmar and now live in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh are Rohingya refugees. International law is very clear. The definition of refugees provided by article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention applies the refugees from Myanmar living in Bangladesh and other countries. The Rohingyas in Bangladesh fled Myanmar owing to a well-founded fear of persecution and as a result of ongoing persecution by the Government and the military for reasons of their ethnicity, race and religion. They must be recognised as Rohingya refugees by all, including by host Governments such as Bangladesh, and they must be referred to as refugees in all public and private statements by all actors, as well as on any documentation issued to them. Refusal to recognise their identity, their ethnicity and their current status denies them rights to which they are entitled, not least the right of non-refoulement to Myanmar.

Second, we must all acknowledge not only the Rohingyas’ status as stateless people, but the way in which their statelessness came about. Rohingya citizenship rights have been systematically wound back since the 1970s and they have been effectively barred from accessing them since the introduction of the 1982 Citizenship Law. The Myanmar Government has discriminatorily denied citizenship to them since that time, and continues to do so.

While I was in Cox’s Bazar, I met with refugees who showed me documentation related to citizenship held by previous generations, including their parents and grandparents, that they have carefully preserved. When we speak of the future of the Rohingyas’ citizenship, we must speak of its restoration by the Government of Myanmar, and not use vague terminology such as a “pathway to citizenship”. Doing so denies the reality of what has happened, as well as the dignity of the people that it happened to, and does not provide a durable and long-lasting solution for the Rohingya population. The Myanmar Government has committed to ensuring a ‘pathway to citizenship’ for the Rohingya people. However in reality, for years, successive governments have placed the Rohingya on a pathway away from the citizenship rights that they previously enjoyed.

During this mission, I have had the opportunity to have teleconferences with various individuals and groups in Myanmar. I am alarmed by what I was told about the developments affecting the human rights of those in Myanmar by all the people I spoke to on this trip in person and by phone. Overwhelmingly the message that they gave me is that enough is enough; the reprehensible situation that exists for the people of Myanmar today must end.

It was reported to me that the democratic space in Myanmar continues to sharply deteriorate. Repressive laws, for example the Telecommunications Law, the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and the Unlawful Associations Law continue to be used to suppress the legitimate exercise of the rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association, and freedom of the press. I have received credible information that at least 6 persons were charged under section 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law in June 2018 while exercising their legitimate freedoms. The arbitrary and subjective interpretation and applications of these laws to supress political dissidents, youth, human rights defenders and activists has resulted in there continuing to be political detainees and prisoners, despite so many members of the NLD having been political prisoners themselves. I urge the Government to repeal and amend the problematic laws that I have repeatedly flagged and undertake the necessary work to ensure people in Myanmar do not live in a climate of fear while exercising their fundamental democratic rights.

I am told that on 9 July, the two Reuters journalists who have faced prolonged legal proceedings since December last year will finally hear whether there is a case against them, or if they will be discharged. They have reportedly been deprived of medical support and subjected to sleep deprivation in contravention of the prohibition against inhuman and degrading treatment and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

I have recently received reports that police violently suppressed a protest against the erection of a statue of General Aung San in Kayah State, home to ethnic Karenni people. Ten youth were arrested and charged with incitement under section 505(b) and (c) of the Penal Code in relation to a letter that they distributed to the protestors. This is the latest in a series of arbitrary arrests of young demonstrators around the country who are seeking to exercise their right of peaceful assembly in the causes of peace and respect for ethnic minority rights. The topic of minority rights had been slated for discussion at the upcoming Third 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, however reportedly it is now off the agenda. With minority rights issues, including discrimination, being at the core of so many problems faced by Myanmar, I urge all the relevant stakeholders to begin to have these difficult discussions, as resolution of these issues will be critical to Myanmar’s peaceful future.

I have spoken with people in Kachin and Shan States who have informed me about the terrifying new tactic of the Tatmadaw, where it uses civilians trapped in conflict zones as human shields. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and must be stopped immediately. The 20,000 people who have been newly displaced in these States remain unable to safely return home and have very little assistance, with humanitarian access being increasingly constrained, including for national organisations. This occurrence is a violation of Myanmar’s obligation under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need. In Shan State, I am told of persistent arrests of individuals in rural areas who are suspected of supporting Shan armed groups on the basis of their having hunting rifles which were reportedly lawfully obtained.

Land confiscation by the military has long been a serious issue in Myanmar. However it is apparent to me that some very concerning trends are emerging whereby people displaced by violence or conflict around the country are effectively being deprived of their land by the Government. In Kachin, the number of banana plantations being established on the land of those who fled is increasing. Several hundred IDPs in Myitkyina reportedly have recently been relocated to land chosen by the government, not their places of origin or choosing, and given no assistance other than three months of food rations. I am greatly worried about what the future will bring for these people, and others if this trend continues in conflict-affected areas of the country.

During this visit to Bangladesh, I spoke to some refugees who arrived in Cox’s Bazar in recent days. What they told me indicates that the situation in northern Rakhine is far from stable or safe; systematic violence targeted against the remaining Rohingya population continues. These refugees told me that Myanmar security forces had entered their villages and told them that they must accept the National Verification Card (NVC) – a form of documentation that does not provide citizenship rights and which the Rohingya reject – or leave. Several of the women I spoke to told me that the security forces searched for their husbands, who had been staying out of their houses in fear. They said that they had then been raped when their husbands were not found. I was horrified to be told by one woman that her 12 year old son had been chopped to pieces when he visited the family’s fish hatchery, after the family had been told by security forces that they could not go there unless they accepted the NVC. Such brutality, and to a child, is deplorable.

I also visited “No Man’s Land” between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Approximately 4,200 Rohingyas are living there, the majority of them are on the Myanmar side and approximately 20 percent on the Bangladeshi side. They told me about the difficulties they face. I saw Myanmar Border Guard posts that watch them from overlooking hills, and the reinforced barbed wire fence recently built by the Myanmar Government. Some of people’s homes are just 10 minutes from where they are sheltered now. They told me that each day, loudspeakers on the Myanmar side of the fence play a recording telling them that it is illegal for them to be there, and to leave, as well as playing recordings of Buddhist sermon. I also met with a young boy who was shot by the Myanmar border guard just a few days ago. He had been alone and looking for something in the grass, his friends having just returned to the camp after playing football. A single shot was fired from the Myanmar side and hit him in the hip. Targeting a child in such a way is an illegal and truly cowardly act, and must be strongly condemned.

In Cox’s Bazar, the refugees who have survived years of heinous violations and abuses in Rakhine State have been visited and interviewed by countless celebrities, high profile individuals, politicians, researchers, human rights organisations, journalists – the list goes on. While it is crucial to speak to the victims and human rights monitoring is essential, I was told by several victims that they have been repeatedly interviewed by multiple people. I am very concerned about this, and I would like to urge all international and national actors to treat the victims with dignity and not ask them to repeatedly recount traumatic experiences. They have endured some of the most horrific experiences and must not be continually exposed, re-victimised and re-traumatised, particularly without access to necessary psychosocial support.

As it is now clear that the Government of Myanmar has made no progress or shown any real will to dismantle the system of discrimination in the country’s laws, policies and practices, and to make northern Rakhine State safe, the Rohingya refugees will not be returning to Myanmar in the near future. There must therefore be a shift to medium and longer term planning in Cox’s Bazar. I am concerned that the humanitarian response remains in the emergency phase with the focus on providing basic assistance to the community. It is now time to work with the community so that it can assist itself – as it is more than capable of doing. It is not true that the community is leaderless and unable to speak for itself. During this mission, I met with impressive, inspiring, determined groups of emerging community leaders who are mobilising and clearly articulating their demands. These groups must be given space and support to develop so that they can meaningfully represent their communities in different fora, including in the humanitarian response, repatriation planning and implementation and in discussion of accountability options.

From my discussions with refugees and humanitarian actors, I see that there are three things that are urgently needed to ensure the future of Rohingya refugee community. First, education for all; this means girls and boys commensurate to beyond primary education to the maximum level possible, as well as older people who were denied education in Myanmar. Second, there must be access to meaningful livelihood opportunities and vocational training for women and men. Third, and critical to both of these issues and the ability for the Rohingya to live a dignified life, is freedom of movement. This is not just about being able to move from place to place, but is about freedom, humanity, being able to access services, receive medical treatment and fulfil basic personal needs like meeting relatives who live in other places. In other words, living a dignified life.

I commend the humanitarian community in Cox’s Bazar that is working tirelessly to support the refugees; the work they are doing is incredibly difficult and I am very impressed by their dedication. The Bangladesh government and its humanitarian partners have worked hard to reinforce the camp infrastructure and prepare for the monsoon. However, with the rain and cyclone season underway, the conditions are getting worse as a result of landslides and floods. While I was in the camps, I experienced both heavy rain and very hot weather. Needless to say, the monsoon and cyclones will return every year. Additionally, the camps are so severely and inhumanely overcrowded, I am very concerned about protection and gender based violence risks. I received very troubling reports of violence in the camps, allegations of trafficking of women and girls, domestic violence, exploitation and widespread sexual and gender based violence. As people continue to arrive, the congestion only increases, as do the risks to public and individual health. I urge all humanitarian actors to put protection and gender at the forefront of their work. The Bangladeshi authorities should also step up their efforts to address ongoing violence, trafficking and other forms of illegal activities in the camps that affect the lives and wellbeing of Rohingya refugees. These efforts must be consistent with international standards.

The Joint Response Plan (JRP) is only 26% funded; I appeal to the donors to step up and provide the funding that is urgently needed to move to medium and longer term planning. I was concerned to be told by disability organisations that inclusion of persons with disabilities is not a priority across all sectors in the JRP; this must be rectified if we are to live up to the principle of leaving no one behind. The international community should not forget the host community in Cox’s Bazar who have been sharing their resources with the Rohingya refugees, and resources should be also directed to support that community.

I understand that the Government of Bangladesh plans to relocate refugees from Cox’s Bazar to Bashan Char, an island that has recently appeared in the Bay of Bengal. I had requested the Government to facilitate a visit for me to see the conditions of the island. It was conveyed to me by the Bangladeshi officials that construction on the island is ongoing, and that my visit would only be possible after the rainy season. I am hoping to visit the island in near future to assess the conditions, the statement about visiting after the rainy season however concerns me greatly, as it indicates that access to the island is difficult or impossible during the monsoon time and raises many questions about the fate of those who may be sent there. As far as I understand, the United Nations and international humanitarian organisations have not carried out any technical or humanitarian assessment to determine whether the island is habitable for human beings. I am yet not aware whether and how the 100,000 refugees who it is said will be relocated will be chosen, how the movement of refugees in and out of the island will be facilitated, and how refugees will be able to access livelihood opportunities, health and education on a remote and isolated island.

A few weeks after hearing the news of signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Myanmar, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), I sent a request to the Government of Myanmar through its Permanent Mission in Geneva for a copy of the MoU. They did not provide me with a copy but instead shared me with a summary that was prepared by one of the UN agencies. Over the last three weeks, I also made requests in person to senior officials of the United Nations, who despite promises, have not shared a copy of the MoU with me. The refugees I spoke with in Cox’s Bazar expressed their deep concerns, disappointment and anger over the lack of consultation on their fate. I expressed my dismay at the Human Rights Council over the lack of transparency on 27 of June. While I am not aware of the exact terms of the MoU, I am extremely concerned that it has been kept secret, including by the United Nations agencies involved, and urge the parties to make it public.

As I have previously said, talk now of repatriation is extremely premature. While in Cox’s Bazar I was told that there are plans for refugee consultation and discussion, but this is not enough. Refugee men, women and children must be given the opportunity to participate in all phases of the design and implementation of the repatriation operation, in accordance with UNHCR’s Handbook on Voluntary Repatriation. I reiterate that any involuntary and non-consultative return of refugees is against the principles of international law and must not take place.

I am further astonished by the lack of any meaningful progress regarding creating conditions in Myanmar for the return of refugees from other countries. While the situation of the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar is extremely precarious and should continue to get urgent attention from the international community; the refugees from Myanmar who live in extreme harsh living and security conditions elsewhere including some neighbouring countries of Myanmar are equally entitled to a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return to their homes of origin. During this mission, I spoke by phone to refugees from Myanmar in India who live in a state of fear and uncertainty, and with the threat of forced deportation by the Government of India. This situation has received little attention by the international community. UNHCR and other UN agencies responsible for the protection of refugees must step up their support to ensure protection and human dignity of the refugees in India who live in such a dreadful situation.

As I said earlier, enough is enough. Justice is a key demand of the Rohingya refugees I spoke to during my mission and of activists and civil society in Myanmar. Accountability for the atrocities committed is urgently needed, and must be delivered for all the people of Myanmar who suffered violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. It is more than clear now unless the cycle of violence and persecution is broken, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law will continue in Myanmar. The enduring impunity must come to an end. When I presented to the Human Rights Council on 27 June, I proposed to establish an accountability mechanism for Myanmar. I am pleased to note that the High Commissioner for Human Rights has also called for an international accountability mechanism in line with my proposal. I urge the international community to come together without delay and establish the mechanism at the Human Rights Council session in September.

Let us stop for a moment and imagine the lives of the refugees – leaving their homes, cattle, rice paddies and living in the refugee camps. Everyday is a reminder of what happened in Myanmar, their home country, and their uncertain future.

Thank you for your attention

 

 

 

 

Myanmar: UN human rights expert to visit Bangladesh

Myanmar: UN human rights expert to visit Bangladesh

GENEVA (28 June 2018) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, will visit Bangladesh from 29 June to 8 July to visit Dhaka and various locations in Cox’s Bazar, where the population who had fled from Myanmar are living in makeshift shelters.

Lee regrets that the Government of Myanmar continues to deny her access despite the call by the Human Rights Council for Myanmar to cooperate with her mandate.

She is determined to reach out as much as possible to victims of human rights abuses in Myanmar who are located elsewhere and other locations in order to learn more about their experience to understand better the human rights situation in Myanmar.

The Special Rapporteur is planning to spend several days in Dhaka meeting UN and Government officials and then travel to Cox’s Bazar where she intends to meet with UN agencies, the humanitarian and protection sector, health and GBV actors, NGOs and Government officials. She also intends to visit various other locations including to visit Bashan Char Island.

Following her visit to Bangladesh, the human rights expert will issue an end of mission statement and share her findings when she presents a report to the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in October 2018.

A press conference will be held at the end of the Special Rapporteur’s visit at 16.00 hrs on 8 July 2018 at hotel Le Meridien, Dhaka.

ENDS

Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Myanmar

For more information and media requests, please contact: Pradeep Wagle (+41 22 917 98 66 / pwagle@ohchr.org).  

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 9179383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)  

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

Tag and share – Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

 

Statement by U Myint Thu, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Delegation of Myanmar at the interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Myanmar at the 38 Session of Human Rights Council

Myanmar CC stmt 27 June 18

Statement by U Myint Thu, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Delegation of Myanmar at the interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Myanmar at the 38 Session of Human Rights Council Geneva, 27 June 2018

Travels by the Special Envoy for Myanmar, Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener

Note to Correspondents

Travels by the Special Envoy for Myanmar, Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener

Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener, who was appointed by the Secretary-General on 26 April as his Special Envoy on Myanmar, will be undertaking the first visit to Myanmar in her new capacity beginning on 12 June.

Pursuant to her General Assembly mandate, the Special Envoy’s consultations with a range of interlocutors including Myanmar authorities, ethnic armed organizations, civil society organizations, religious leaders and members of the diplomatic community will cover Rakhine state, peace process, democratization and human right issues.  Following her visit to Myanmar, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General plans to visit countries in the region including Bangladesh.

Right after she took up her new assignment on 16 May, the Special Envoy visited New York and Geneva for introductory consultations with the Secretary-General, other senior officials of the United Nations as well as with interested Member States and INGOs.

New York, 11 June 2018

Myanmar: too many children still in hazardous and unsafe forms of work

World Day Against Child Labour
Myanmar: too many children still in hazardous and unsafe forms of work

Some 600,000 of the 1 million child labourers in the country are involved in hazardous work.

Yangon (ILO News) – Almost one in ten of Myanmar’s 12 million children between the age of 5 and 17 are engaged in child labour, too often exposed to hazards and risks. Pushed by poverty, estranged from school, children enter the workforce with little awareness about occupational safety and health (OSH) rights and responsibilities, and therefore at high risk of fatal injuries.

There are over 600,000 Myanmar children engaged in hazardous work that harms their health, safety and morals.

From stretches of cultivated fields to teashops in the country’s economic capital of Yangon, most of Myanmar child labourers, as in the rest of the Asia-Pacific, are found in the informal economy.

Myanmar is facing up to the massive challenge of child labour and making it a national priority,” said Rory Mungoven, ILO Liaison Officer in Myanmar on the occasion of World Day against Child Labour, marked on June 12. “A first priority should be to keep children out of hazardous forms of work and improve the safety conditions for those young people who are working.”

Myanmar has ratified ILO Convention No.182 on the worst forms of child labour in December 2013, and with the assistance of the ILO, the Government is in the process of finalizing its first National Action Plan (NAP) on Child Labour, including the list of hazardous work prohibited to children under 18 as required by the Convention.

To ensure the finalization and implementation of the NAP, the Government has established in February 2018 the National Committee for the Eradication of Child Labour chaired by the Vice-President, with representatives of key ministries, workers’ and employers’ organizations, as well as the civil society.

We are making access to quality education a reality, strengthening the actions aimed at fighting child labour for young generations”, stressed U Nyunt Win, Director General of the Factories and General Labour Laws Inspection Department (FGLLID) of the Myanmar Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population speaking at the celebration of the World Day held in Yangon.

Ending child labour and promoting safe and healthy work for young people requires an integrated strategy and coordinated actions which include the following steps:

 

  • Children in child labour must be withdrawn from all forms of work for which they have not reached the minimum age, and be ensured access to quality education;
  • The list of hazardous child labour must be finalized, along with the new Child Rights Law;
  • Young workers should receive basic OSH training before being assigned to perform job tasks;
  • Young workers should be fully trained in their job tasks and provided appropriate on-the-job supervision;
  • The right of young workers to refuse to perform work that presents an imminent danger to their safety or health must be protected.

This year’s World Day Against Child Labour is celebrated in conjunction with the ILO’s campaign Generation Safe & Healthy, seeking to promote safety and health for young workers and end child labour. The campaign aims to accelerate action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.7 of ending all forms of child labour by 2025 and SDG 8.8 of safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030.

The ILO’s work in Myanmar to achieve these goals is done through the Myanmar Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (My-PEC), and the SafeYouth@Work and Youth4OSH projects.

 

For media requests, please contact: Marco Minocri, Communications Consultant minocri@ilo.org

 

###

Myanmar: UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict engages with Myanmar on better protecting children affected by armed conflict

 

Myanmar: UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict engages with Myanmar on better protecting children affected by armed conflict

 NEW YORK, 29 May 2018

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, visited Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw from 27 to 29 May 2018.

During her visit she met with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; the Deputy Commander in Chief of Defense Services Vice Senior General Soe Win; the Minister of Defense Lt. General Sein Win; the Minister of International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin; the Minister of Labor, Immigration and Population, H.E U Thein Swe; the Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo; the Director General of Social Welfare, Dr. San San Aye, the Joint Monitoring Committee; and with representatives of the United Nations country team, the international community and civil society.

The objectives of the mission included discussion around  identification of challenges for the full implementation of the Joint Action Plan signed between the national army, the Tatmadaw, and the United Nations, to end and prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers; discuss the importance of access to conflict and crisis affected areas of Myanmar, including Shan, Kachin and Rakhine states, in order to undertake objective and impartial monitoring; to advocate for the adoption of the revised  draft child rights law and to stress the importance of making child protection a key ceasefire and peace-building priority . The SRSG also explained the mandate of her Office to protect and prevent the 6 violations against children, namely, recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups, killing and maiming, attacks on schools and hospitals, sexual violence, abduction and denial of humanitarian access.

“I had frank and constructive discussions with the authorities of Myanmar including the way forward in completing the implementation of the Joint Action Plan. Many measures have already been put in place but we need to expedite completion of this Joint Action Plan” stated SRSG Gamba. It was agreed that the Government would quickly seek to address gaps and barriers toward the implementation of the Action Plan with the support of the UN and civil society partners. “I also shared my concerns regarding the impact of violence on children in the crisis in  Rakhine State, and continued conflict in Shan and Kachin States, and underscore the importance of any return being safe, voluntary, dignified and with the appropriate support for affected population”; the SRSG stated that the UN stands ready to provide support as relevant and appropriate.

“We are ready to engage in concrete measures with other listed parties to the conflict mentioned in the Children and Armed Conflict agenda in Myanmar,” SRSG Gamba highlighted. “

Special Representative Gamba also called on the Government of Myanmar to ratify the Optional Protocol on the involvement of Children in Armed Conflict to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to continue to operate in the spirit of the Paris Principles, and to proceed speedily with the adoption of the draft child law, which could serve as model for integration of protection of children in armed conflict.

During all her discussions with authorities and stakeholders, SRSG Virginia Gamba emphasized the need for sustainable protection policies and approaches that promote prevention in the long term.

“I firmly believe that the use and abuse of children in for and by armed conflict worldwide must be stopped. The children of this world are not just our future, they are also our responsibilities for the present. By protecting our children and prevent any future violations against them, we are building a sustainable global peace.”

###

Note to editors:

UN Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011) and 2225 (2015) on Children and Armed Conflict established measures and tools to end grave violations against children, through the creation of a monitoring and reporting mechanism, and the development of Action Plans to end violations by parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict.

In Myanmar, eight parties to conflict[i] are listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General Annual Report for the recruitment and use of children. The Tatmadaw national army is engaged in an Action Plan with the UN to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, but the United Nations stands ready to engage with other listed parties.

You can read the latest report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar here:  http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2017/1099%20%20&Lang=E&Area=UNDOC

###

For additional information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet/ Stephanie Tremblay, Communications Officer
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-8285 (office)
+1-917-288-5791 (mobile)
tremblay@un.org / vinet@un.org
Website: https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook:
http://www.twitter.com/childreninwar
https://www.facebook.com/childrenandarmedconflict

[i] Listed parties for the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar: Tatmadaw (national army) including border guard forces; Democratic Karen Benevolent Army; Kachin Independence Army; Karen National Liberation Army; Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council; Karenni Army; Shan State Army South; United Wa State Army.

 

Statement by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai in Myanmar, Knut Ostby, on the International Day Against Homophbia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Statement by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai in Myanmar Knut Ostby on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

17 May 2018
Eleven UN agencies and Embassies are flying the rainbow flag today in support of diversity and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons (LGBTI) in Myanmar on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
This day marks the decision of the World Health Organization to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder on 17 May 1990.
Since then, we have seen encouraging progress worldwide. Almost 40 countries now legally recognize same-sex couples. Some are looking at making it easier for transgender people to have their gender legally recognized.
However, the progress is not even. Discrimination persists in many countries on grounds of sexual orientation and LGBTI people face stigma, violence and human rights abuse.
Myanmar, like many countries in the region, has old colonial laws criminalizing same-sex relations. While these are rarely enforced, they nevertheless contribute to a hostile environment for LGBTI people.
As Myanmar transforms in so many ways, it is time to change this.
All countries have accepted the principle – enshrined in international law – that human rights are universal.
The leaders of all countries – including Myanmar – have unanimously reaffirmed their commitment ending poverty and human rights discrimination by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 17 sustainable development goals are based on a single, guiding principle: to leave no one behind.
That includes LGBTI people who can make great contribution to society when their rights are respected.
They have a right to enjoy life that feels free, and where love can be found without prejudice and discrimination.
The United Nations is committed to support the Government of Myanmar in designing policies and programmes that will ensure human rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

###

Contact: Stanislav Saling, Spokesperson, stanislav.saling@one.un.org, +95 (0) 942 651 9871

Statement by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai in Myanmar Knut Ostby on security situation in Muse Township

Statement by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai in Myanmar Knut Ostby on security situation in Muse Township

I have been following with concern the reports of numerous civilian casualties resulting from recent clashes between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Government security forces in Muse Township in Northern Shan State.

I urge all relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint in protecting the civilian population from further casualties, and to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected communities.

The armed conflict continues to extract a heavy toll upon Myanmar society, and I express my sincere condolences to all families that have lost loved ones in this incident.

The UN encourages all parties to re-double their efforts to advance the Peace Process, and offers its full support to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Contact: Stanislav Saling, Spokesperson, stanislav.saling@one.un.org+95 (0) 942 651 9871

END

Security Council Press Statement on the Security Council’s visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar

Security Council Press Statement on the Security Council’s visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar

 From 28 April to 1 May, members of the Security Council visited Bangladesh and Myanmar as part of its efforts to address the crisis since 25 August 2017 and urge implementation of its Presidential Statement of 6 November 2017.  The Security Council is grateful to the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar, as well as the United Nations, for facilitating the visit.

Members of the Security Council were struck by the scale of the humanitarian crisis and remain gravely concerned by the current situation.

In Bangladesh, the members of the Security Council visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, where they met Rohingya refugees.  The members of the Security Council also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Minister of State Mohammed Shahriar Alam, acting Foreign Secretary M. Khurshed Alam, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammed Abul Kalam, other senior government officials, and representatives of the UN Country Team in Bangladesh.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deep appreciation to the government of Bangladesh for its efforts to provide refugees protection and assistance and expressed their determination to continue supporting Bangladesh, and Bangladeshi host communities, especially in preparing for the upcoming monsoon season and in providing refugees with sustainable support. The members of the Security Council reiterated their support to the work being undertaken by the UN Country Team in support of Bangladesh.

In Myanmar, the members of the Security Council met State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Union Minister for the State Counsellor’s Office U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister for Office of the Union Government and National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, and other senior government officials, representatives of the UN Country Team in Myanmar, and members of civil society.  They also visited northern Rakhine State and observed the situation in northern Rakhine State, including widespread destruction of villages as well as reception centres and transit camps under preparation by the government of Myanmar.

The members of the Security Council noted the efforts taken by the government of Myanmar to prepare for the repatriation of refugees.  The members of the Security Council urged the government of Myanmar to step up its efforts to create conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in Rakhine State and to address the root causes of the crisis through implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations, including those related to human rights,citizenship, poverty alleviation and development. The members of the Security Council welcomed Myanmar’s commitment to work with the United Nations in the press release by the Ministry of the State Counsellor of Myanmar on 1st May 2018 after State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi met with members of the Security Council.

The members of the Security Council encourage states able to do so to continue and increase support to the government of Bangladesh, and Bangladeshi host communities, in hosting the Rohingya refugee community, especially regarding emergency preparedness measures to be taken ahead of the monsoon and cyclone seasons.

The members of the Security Council welcome the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and the Arrangement on the Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State between the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh and urge the government of Myanmar to work with the government of Bangladesh and the United Nations to allow the voluntary return of all refuges in conditions of safety and dignity to their homes in Myanmar, including through intensified bilateral consultations and implementation of the MoU and the Arrangement.

The members of the Security Council urge the government of Myanmar to grant the United Nations agencies and their partners immediate, safe, and unhindered access to Rakhine State, as well as to other domestic and international non-governmental organisations providing humanitarian assistance, and, as an initial confidence-building measure, to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding with UNHCR and UNDP in the coming days.

The members of the Security Council in light of the importance of undertaking transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations, urge the government of Myanmar to fulfil, based on respect for the rule of law, its stated commitment to holding accountable perpetrators of violence, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children.

The members of the Security Council reaffirm the Security Council’s Presidential Statement of 6 November 2017 in full, including its strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, and unity of Myanmar.

The members of the Security Council intend to discuss in the coming days how the Security Council can work with the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar, as well as the UN, including the Secretary-General’s newly appointed Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener, to resolve the crisis and create the conditions allowing the safe, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of refugees to their homes in Rakhine State.

9 May 2018