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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
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
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[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 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, firstname.lastname@example.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
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.
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
Statement by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Knut Ostby, ten years after Cyclone Nargis
(Yangon, 2 May 2018): “Ten years ago today, Myanmar was devastated by cyclone Nargis – by far the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. The cyclone made landfall near Hainggyikyun in Ayeyarwady Region on 2 May 2008, with wind speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour, accompanied by heavy rain and storm surges of up to 12 metres in certain areas. The cyclone left approximately 140,000 people dead or unaccounted for, with close to 2.4 million people affected in 37 townships in Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions.
On behalf of the United Nations, on this day that marks ten years since Cyclone Nargis, I would like to commemorate all those who died and who lost their loved ones in the tragic disaster. At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the strength and resilience of the people of Myanmar. Not only did they show courage in rebuilding their lives and their ruined communities in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, but – drawing from the lessons of this disaster – they have contributed since then to Government-led efforts to reduce risks and to enhance disaster preparedness and response.
Myanmar remains one of the most disaster prone countries in Asia. With this in mind, the United Nations continues to work closely with the Government on disaster risk reduction and on disaster preparedness. A recent earthquake response simulation exercise supported by the United Nations is an example of this.
While remembering the victims of the catastrophic event in 2008, I would like to reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to continue supporting the Government of Myanmar in strengthening national capacity to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.”
ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံဆိုင္ရာ ကုလသမဂၢ ဌာေနကိုယ္စားလွယ္ႏွင့္ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာမႈဆိုင္ရာ ညႇိႏႈိင္းေရးမႉး ခႏြတ္ေအာ့ဒ္စဘီ၏ ဆိုင္ကလုန္းမုန္တိုင္းတိုက္ခတ္မႈ ဆယ္ႏွစ္ျပည့္သည့္ေန႔အတြက္ ထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္
(ရန္ကုန္၊ ၂ဝ၁၈ ခုႏွစ္ ေမလ ၂ ရက္) – “လြန္ခဲ့သည့္ ဆယ္ႏွစ္အခ်ိန္ယေန႔တြင္ ျမန္မာႏို္င္ငံသည္ ႏိုင္ငံ၏ သမိုင္း၌ အဆိုးရြား၊ အျပင္းထန္ဆံုးေသာ ဆိုင္ကလုန္းမုန္တိုင္း နာဂစ္ေၾကာင့္ ထိခိုက္ပ်က္စီးမႈမ်ား ႀကီးမားစြာ ခံစားခဲ့ရ ပါသည္။ ၂ဝဝ၈ ခုႏွစ္ ေမလ ၂ ရက္ေန႔ တြင္ ေလတိုက္ႏႈန္း တစ္နာရီလွ်င္ ကီလိုမီတာ ၂ဝဝ ေက်ာ္အထိရွိခဲ့ၿပီး၊ မုိးမ်ား သည္း ထန္စြာ ရြာသြန္းမႈႏွင့္အတူ အခ်ိဳ႕ေနရာမ်ားတြင္ မုန္တိုင္း ဒီေရမွာ ၁၂ မီတာ အထိ ျမင့္တက္ေစခဲ့ေသာ ဆိုင္ကလုန္း
မုန္တိုင္းမွာ ဧရာဝတီတိုင္းေဒသႀကီးရွိ ဟုိင္းႀကီးကၽြန္းၿမိဳ႕နယ္အနီးမွ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ကုန္တြင္းပိုင္း သို႔ ဝင္ေရာက္ခဲ့ ပါသည္။ ဆိုင္ကလုန္းမုန္တိုင္း ေၾကာင့္ လူဦးေရ ၁၄ဝ,ဝဝ ခန္႔ ေသဆံုးခဲ့ရျခင္း၊ သို႔မဟုတ္ ေပ်ာက္ဆံုးျခင္း တို႔ရွိခဲ့ၿပီး၊ ဧရာဝတီ တိုင္းေဒသႀကီးႏွင့္ ရန္ကုန္တိုင္းေဒသႀကီးတို႔ရွိ ၿမိဳ႕နယ္ ၃၇ ၿမိဳ႕နယ္မွ လူဦးေရ ၂.၄သန္း နီးပါးမွာ မုန္တိုင္းေၾကာင့္ ထိခိုက္ခံစားခဲ့ရပါသည္။
ျမန္မာႏို္င္ငံသို႔ ဆိုင္ကလုန္းမုန္တိုင္း ဝင္ေရာက္တိုက္ခတ္ခဲ့သည္မွာ ဆယ္ႏွစ္ျပည့္ေျမာက္ခဲ့သည့္ ယေန႔တြင္ကၽြန္ေတာ့္ အေနျဖင့္ ကုလသမဂၢအဖြဲ႔အစည္း၏ကိုယ္စား အဆိုပါ ေၾကကြဲဝမ္းနည္းဖြယ္ ေဘးအႏၲရာယ္ေၾကာင့္ေသဆံုးခဲ့ရသူ မ်ားႏွင့္ မိသားစုဝင္မ်ားဆံုးရံႈးခဲ့ရသူမ်ားအား ေအာက္ေမ့သတိရေၾကာင္းေျပာၾကားလိုပါသည္။ တစ္ခ်ိန္တည္းမွာပင္
ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံရွိ ျပည္သူမ်ား ခြန္အားရွိစြာ ႀကံံ႕ႀကံ႕ခိုင္ရပ္တည္ႏိုင္မႈကိုလည္း ခ်ီးက်ဴး ဂုဏ္ျပဳ ေျပာၾကား လိုပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံရွိ ျပည္သူလူထုမွာ ဆိုင္ကလုန္းမုန္တိုင္းတိုက္ခတ္ခဲ့ၿပီးေနာက္ ၄င္းတို႔၏ ဘဝမ်ားႏွင့္ ပ်က္စီးသြား ခဲ့ရေသာ ရပ္ရြာမ်ားကို ျပန္လည္တည္ေဆာက္ႏိုင္သည့္ ခြန္အား၊ သတၲိကို ျပသခဲ့ရုံမွ်မက ၊ အဆိုပါ သဘာဝေဘး ႀကံဳေတြ႔ခဲ့ ရသည့္အျဖစ္အပ်က္မွသင္ခန္းစာယူၿပီး၊ ထိုအခ်ိန္မွစ၍ ႏိုင္ငံေတာ္အစိုးရမွ ဦးစီးေဆာင္ရြက္သည့္ ေဘးအႏၲရာယ္ ေလွ်ာ့ ခ်ေရး၊ ေဘးအႏၲရာယ္ႀကိဳတင္ ျပင္ဆင္ေရးႏွင့္ တုံ႔ျပန္ေဆာင္ရြက္ေရးတို႔ကို တိုးျမႇင့္လုပ္ေဆာင္ႏိုင္ရန္ အား
ထုတ္ ႀကိဳးပမ္း ေဆာင္ရြက္မႈမ်ားတြင္ ပါဝင္ခဲ့ၾကပါသည္။
ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသည္ အာရွတိုက္တြင္သဘာဝေဘးအႏၲရာယ္ႀကံဳေတြ႔ႏိုင္ေျခ အမ်ားဆံုးရွိသည့္ႏို္င္ငံမ်ား အနက္မွ ႏိုင္ငံ တစ္ႏိုင္ငံအျဖစ္ ဆက္လက္ရွိေနဆဲျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ထိုအခ်က္ကိုသိမွတ္လ်က္၊ ကုလသမဂၢအဖြဲ႔အစည္းအေနျဖင့္ ေဘး အႏၲရာယ္ေလွ်ာ့ခ်ေရးႏွင့္ ေဘးအႏၲရာယ္ႀကိဳတင္ျပင္ဆင္ေရးတို႔တြင္ ႏိုင္ငံေတာ္အစိုးရႏွင့္ အနီးကပ္ဆက္လက္ လက္
တြဲေဆာင္ရြက္သြားမည္ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ကုလသမဂၢ အဖြဲ႔အစည္းမွ ကူညီ ေဆာင္ရြက္ခဲ့သည့္ ေျမငလ်င္ေဘး တုံ႔ျပန္ေရး
သဏၭာန္တူ ေလ့က်င့္ျခင္းအစီအစဥ္မွာ ထိုေဆာင္ရြက္ခ်က္မ်ား၏ သာဓက တစ္ခုပင္ျဖစ္ပါသည္။
၂ဝဝ၈ ခုႏွစ္တြင္ ႀကံဳေတြ႔ခဲ့ရသည့္ ကပ္ဆိုးႀကီးအတြင္း အသက္ဆံုးရံႈး၊ ထိခိုက္ခံစားခဲ့ရသူမ်ားအား သတိရရင္း၊ သဘာဝေဘးအႏၲရာယ္မ်ားအတြက္ ႀကိဳတင္ျပင္ဆင္ျခင္းႏွင့္ တု႔ံုုျပန္ေဆာင္ရြက္ေရးလုပ္ငန္းမ်ားကို လုပ္ေဆာင္ရန္ တိုင္းျပည္၏ စြမ္းရည္ကို အားေကာင္းေစေရးေဆာင္ရြက္ရာတြင္ ကုလသမဂၢအဖြဲ႔အစည္းမွ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံေတာ္အစိုးရအား ဆက္လက္ပံ့ပိုး ကူညီေဆာင္ရြက္သြားပါမည္ဟူေသာ ကတိကဝတ္ကို ကၽြန္ေတာ့္အေနျဖင့္ ထပ္ေလာင္းေျပာၾကား လိုပါသည္။
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AT THE END OF
THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL’S VISIT TO MYANMAR
30 APRIL – 1 MAY 2018
UNSC President, Permanent Representative of Poland, Ms. Joanna Wronecka:
Good evening everybody, we are very pleased to be in Myanmar and I am particularly pleased because today Poland assumes the Presidency of the Security Council, for the month of May. I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues to my colleagues who prepared this visit, especially the previous Presidency, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Peru and, Kuwait, who initiated our preparation and UK for a very substantial contribution to this visit. My colleagues will share their impressions, but I would like to assure you that we are extremely happy and grateful to the authorities of Myanmar, for all arrangements. We had a chance to visit your beautiful country. To speak to different representatives of your society. And I think now that we had very good information about the development of the country, about the humanitarian assistance. Now I will encourage my colleagues to speak on their behalf. Thank you.
Former UNSC President H.E. Mr. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Permanent Representative of Peru:
Good afternoon, as our Presidency mentioned, yesterday and today, we had two important days, in this visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar. The purpose of our visit, as you know, has been to assess and evaluate the situation on the ground. The Security Council is very much concerned, about the refugee crisis so yesterday we had important meetings with the State Counsellor and also with the Chief of the Armed Forces, civil society, and today we had an important visit to Rakhine State. We visited the area of the refugees. Also we had very good encounters with the local population. We visited the constructions that the Government is takin on at the border for the return of the refugees. Also we visited areas where the local communities expressed their views regarding how the returnees can come back to their villages of origin. This is an issue that we have been discussing at the Council as you know our views where we have very clearly stated in appreciation of the statement of the Security Council. Yesterday we had a very open discussion where we presented our views regarding how best we can solve these difficult issues. We also received the views of Government. After that we will continue at the Security Council, evaluating how best we can proceed. Basically the message that we conveyed was that it was very important to improve the security conditions of the return of the refugees. Also the collaboration with international organizations, particularly United Nations, we also mentioned the importance of the investigations regarding what happened here before the refugees went to Bangladesh. These were basically our discussion and now I will pass to my colleague the Ambassador.
H.E. Mr. Mansour Alotaibi, Permanent Representative of Kuwait
We are very grateful to Myanmar’s Government for all the support and logistical assistance. Without their help, without their assistance, we wouldn’t see what we saw in western Rakhine and the meetings which have been arranged, as my colleague says, the different sectors of the Government, civil society and many others. So we are really thankful to the Myanmar Government for that. What we really wanted as representatives of the Security Council was to see the agreement signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh to be implemented. We saw that the Myanmar Government took many steps to implement the agreement. But I think that there Is much that Is… what we really want is for the refugees to go back to their homes. We are assured by the officials that we met that they are doing that they want that to come back but there is conditions, restrictions. Some UN Agencies, like UNHCr and UNDP, we know that they are in process to sign a memorandum of understanding between them and Myanmar Government. We want to see that happening soon. What we really want is just to speed up the process of the return of the refugees. A safe and voluntary and dignified return for them. Thank you.
H.E, Ms. Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of UK:
Thank you very much for coming. Just to add to my colleagues, I’ll talk a little bit about next steps. I think we want to assist both Governments as the Security Council. We want to assist the Government of Bangladesh by drawing attention of international donors to the help that Bangladesh needs in mitigating the effects of the floods. The area that the Rohingya are in in Bangladesh, is prone to flooding and Bangladesh needs help so that it can manage the monsoon. There’s a longer term question and not having its economic stability affected by hosting as many, one million or so refugees. We want to assess the Government of Myanmar, both in the implementation of the Annan Plan and we talked a little bit about that with the representatives we met. We also, as my colleagues have said, want to support the signing of the MoU and the implementation of the agreement with Bangladesh. We believe the MoU can be signed quickly and UN agencies can be given unconditional access. That would be the best thing to do to deal with the scale of the problem. The one thing that I would like to stress the absolute scale of having to get one million refugees, back home in security and safety so that they could start their livelihoods over time, even if it takes a long time, we need to start on that. I think the Council can play a helpful role by continuing to be united on this issue. I think everybody on this Council has been moved by what they’ve seen on the trip and we want to preserve that unity so we can actually make a difference and we can accelerate progress on dealing with both the Annan Plan and also getting refugees back home. Thank you.
Q&A: 7 Day News, BBC World, Myanmar Radio and Television, AFP in succession:
7 Day (translation): What are your main findings during this trip? Is there anything you would like to share with us?
BBC World: (to the British Permanent Representative) You yourself seem quite moved by what you’ve seen with the refugees in Cox’s Bazar. You were then able to meet the head of the military whose troops stand accused of crimes against humanity and Aung San Suu Kyi, who stands accused of turning a blind eye to this. Does Britain now believe that you should have a conversation within the Security Council about a resolution being passed, whereby you recommend that the International Criminal Court investigates possible crimes against humanity.
MRTV: (Translation) The Myanmar Government has said that it is ready to receive the people who have crossed into Bangladesh but there are groups that have gone over to Bangladesh and talked with these refugees and they learned that these refugees were not aware of the procedures on returning Your comments on that please.
AFP: Have you been looking at whether the atrocities committed in Rakhine constituted genocide, and if so, have you come into any conclusion during this trip?
President – Frankly speaking, being in your country is a privilege for us. We discovered an ancient civilization where many cultures coexisted already. So there is a huge potential for an extremely positive dialogue in the future. Of course we encourage the authorities to continue in that direction. But the fact that we discussed all issues with civil society means that you have a vibrant civil society here, people who care about the future of your country and of the refugees. We were somehow also so impressed by the frankness because all members also asked difficult questions, not only easy. But definitely we have to work together to encourage, to somehow assist you in this very ambitious way for this transformation because it is a process of transformation. One of your colleagues mentioned genocide and my colleagues will try to comment. But we as diplomats, focus very much on the rules of international law. And here it is important to follow the procedures we have within the system of the United Nations. A Special Representative who is very well equipped and worked on it saw that we as a Security Council, we only give some incentives. But there are people who are more qualified to do so.
UK – I’ll take the question from the BBC. I think it is impossible not to be moved by what one heard in Cox’s Bazar and particularly the scale of it. (Inaudible) But I think everybody knows some of the stories that those poor people have been through. Yes, there must be a proper investigation. One can tell stories and those stories are very moving. But in order to have accountability, you need a proper investigation with evidentiary standards. There are two ways of doing that. One is an ICC, an International Criminal Court Referral is (inaudible). And the second is for the Burmese Government to do that themselves. And we were able to raise this both with the Senior General and with Daw Suu herself. Now she was helpful. She said, “If there was evidence, then it should be given to the Burmese authorities and they would undertake a proper investigation. We know that there had been a couple of prosecutions already. I think what would constitute a more effective response would be something that was scaled up from that. The Security Council will now go away and reflect on how best we can respond to the State Counsellor with her offer and what the best next steps might be. We don’t yet have an investigation mechanism to provide her with evidence. That would be the first step. As I say, there’s more than one route to that end. Thank you. ENDS.
Myanmar: UN expert says civilians must be protected as Kachin violence mounts
GENEVA (1 May 2018) – A UN human rights expert has expressed grave concerns over a sharp escalation in hostilities in Myanmar’s Kachin State, which has reportedly killed at least 10 civilians, left several wounded and forced thousands to flee their homes in the north of the country.
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said she had received reports that the military had carried out aerial bombings, and used heavy weapons and artillery fire against civilian areas near the Chinese border.
“What we are seeing in Kachin State over the past few weeks is wholly unacceptable, and must stop immediately,” Lee said. “Innocent civilians are being killed and injured, and hundreds of families are now fleeing for their lives.
“Civilians must never be subjected to violence during the course of conflict.All parties must take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security,” she added.
In March, Lee told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that as the world’s attention was focused on the crisis in Rakhine State, violence was escalating in other areas such as Kachin.
She urged all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and said it was incumbent upon all forces to observe the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.
According to UN reports, more than 5,000 civilians have been displaced from villages near the border with China inthelast three weeks. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities are among those displaced.
Lee said she had received reports that a food convoy organised by the Myanmar Red Cross was prevented from entering the village of Man Wai on 23 April. More than 100 civilians have been trapped in the village for three weeks with no or very limited access to food, medicine and other items needed for survival.
“All parties to the conflict must allow the passage of humanitarian assistance,” the Special Rapporteur said. “Any wilful impediment of relief supplies may amount to war crimes under international law.”
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 / email@example.com)
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 9179383 / firstname.lastname@example.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 Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.
UN experts call on Myanmar to drop prosecution of Reuters reporters
GENEVA (12 April 2018) – A Myanmar court’s decision to continue pursuing a case against two Reuters reporters gives rise to grave concern for investigative journalism and the public’s right to information in the country, UN experts* have said.
“We urge the prosecution to drop the charges against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and we urge the Government to release both journalists immediately,” the experts said.
On 11 April 2018, a court in Yangon rejected a motion to dismiss the case against the two reporters. It scheduled a hearing for 20 April 2018 to hear additional prosecution witnesses.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were reporting on the widespread assault on the Rohingya population in Rakhine State when authorities arrested them on 12 December 2017. The authorities accuse the journalists of illegally acquiring information with the intention of sharing it with foreign media. On 21 December 2017, UN experts raised concern that the charges brought against the reporters under the 1923 Official Secrets Act are tantamount to the criminalisation of journalism in Myanmar.
On 10 April 2018, seven soldiers were sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor in a remote area for participating in a massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslim men in a village in Rakhine State.
“The perpetrators of a massacre that was, in part, the subject of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s reporting have been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. And yet these two reporters face a possible 14 years imprisonment. The absurdity of this trial and the wrongfulness of their detention and prosecution are clear,” the experts said.
“We urge the Government to ensure not only the protection and release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. We also urge the Government to ensure that investigative journalism, especially journalism relating to human rights violations and the situation in Rakhine State, is duly protected in Myanmar.”
The Special Rapporteurs are in contact with the Myanmar authorities concerning the case.
*The UN experts: David Kaye,Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; andYanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.
The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups 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 that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page: Myanmar
For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva (after the visit): Ms. Azin Tadjdini (email@example.com/ + 41 22 917 9400).
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / firstname.lastname@example.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 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.