Message read by Andrew Kirkwood, United Nation Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai, At the Ceremony to commemorate the International Day of Older Persons

Nay Pyi Taw, 1 October 2019

Excellency, Dr. Win Myat Aye, Union Minister of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement,

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps, International Organizations and the United Nations,

Mingalarbar.

We celebrate today, what Myanmar traditionally celebrates every year in its traditions and festivals. At Thadingyut, in the Buddhist tradition, respect is paid to the elderly, parents and teachers.  At Thingyan, the Myanmar New Year, the elderly are given hair washes and their fingernails and toenails are trimmed by younger people, a symbolic act of caring for the elderly.

The International Day of Older Persons highlights the elderly among us. This admirable tradition reinforces the attitude that the people of Myanmar have towards the elderly.  People recognize and respect the wisdom of the elderly. They recognize their place in society.

The theme for this year is, “The Journey to Age Equality”.  As Myanmar travels on its roads of democratization, peace and development, these journeys must include everyone. This is a core principle of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, which says we must leave no one behind. In other words, development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages.

In spite of the veneration of the elderly in Myanmar, the elderly are sometimes neglected or marginalized because of their position of vulnerability. For example, in conflict areas, it is the elderly and children who bear the brunt of the hostilities. Often, disparities in old age reflect an accumulated disadvantage from factors such as: gender, education, health and income.

The number of older people in Myanmar will almost triple in the next 30 years. By 2050 the number of people aged 60 and over is projected to grow from 4.5 million to 13 million – or 20 per cent of the population.[i] This will present an enormous challenge to Myanmar as it copes with an ageing society.  Myanmar’s policies and programmes must take this into account.

Myanmar is not unique in this regard. Worldwide, between 2015 and 2030, the number of people aged 60 and over is expected to increase from 900 million to 1.4 billion. So, we can learn from one another.

We have learned that older persons should be empowered in all dimensions of development. Active participation in social, economic and political life, is one way to ensure that older persons in Myanmar benefit from democratization and economic growth.

We also know that older persons contribute enormously to society. The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census shows that 22 per cent of people aged 65 and above still work.

The theme of 2019, “The Journey to Age Equality” aims to:

  • Draw attention to the existence of old age inequalities and how this often results from a cumulation of disadvantages throughout life.
  • Bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities through: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage.
  • Reflect on good practice and lessons that can change negative stereotypes involving “old age.”

In two weeks, we approach Thadingyut, when forgiveness is sought from the elderly and blessings are bestowed, the International Day of Older Persons is a timely reminder of how Myanmar culture is advantageous in helping us achieve Goal 10 of the SDGs, to reduce inequalities that older persons face in society.

Thank you, Kyay zuu tin bar deh.

 

[i]https://myanmar.unfpa.org/en/news/myanmar-must-prepare-face-challenges-ageing-population

https://www.un.org/en/events/olderpersonsday/

 

The United Nations in Myanmar calls for internet resumption in areas under shutdown in Rakhine State

Yangon, 30 September 2019 -The United Nations in Myanmar urges the Government to end the shutdown of mobile internet services in Ponnagyun, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, and Minbya Townships in Rakhine State.   While welcoming steps taken to restore service to five out of the nine townships affected by the shutdown, the United Nations also notes that for those townships which remain cut off, the shut-down will have reached its 101st day on 30 September 2019.

Uninterrupted availability of the internet is indispensable and mobile internet services are a key enabler of the humanitarian and development work of the United Nations in Myanmar. The shutdown has therefore been a significant impediment to our work, complicating our ability to communicate in field locations, including with affected people.    More broadly, the public in these areas, many of whom were already severely affected by the ongoing armed conflict in the area and by related constraints on humanitarian access, are facing additional difficulties related to the shutdown and in their daily lives.

The internet is critical for access to information and freedom of expression, which enable other fundamental human rights.

The shutdown is in contradiction to the principles and values of the Sustainable Development Goals, signed by the Government of Myanmar, which call for no one to be left behind, and has the potential to further undermine basic rights around access to food, education, health services and information.

The United Nations therefore calls on the Government of the Union of Myanmar to immediately resume internet services in the affected areas and to facilitate unhindered access for humanitarian organizations, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.

For further information, contact:

Aye Win

National Information Officer,

Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator/

United Nations Information Centre, Yangon

Email wina@un.org

Mobile: (95) 9 421060343

ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္ နယ္ေျမေဒသ အခ်ိဳ႕တြင္ အင္တာနက္ ပိတ္ပင္ထားျခင္းကို ျပန္လည္ဖြင့္လွစ္ေပးပါရန္ ကုလသမဂၢ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ႐ံုးက ေဆာ္ၾသျခင္း

ရန္ကုန္ၿမိဳ႕၊ ၃၀-၉-၂၀၁၉ – လက္ကိုင္ဖုန္းျဖင့္ အင္တာနက္ အသံုးျပဳႏိုင္သည့္ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈမ်ားကို ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္ ပုဏၰားကၽြန္း၊ ေျမာက္ဦးႏွင့္ မင္းျပားၿမိဳ႕နယ္မ်ားတြင္ ရပ္ဆိုင္းထားျခင္းကို အဆံုးသတ္ပါရန္ ကုလသမဂၢ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ႐ံုးက ႏိုင္ငံေတာ္အစိုးရအား ေဆာ္ၾသပါသည္။ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈမ်ား ရပ္ဆုိင္းခဲ့သည့္ ၿမိဳ႕နယ္ ၉ ၿမိဳ႕နယ္အနက္ ၅ ၿမိဳ႕နယ္တြင္ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈ ျပန္လည္ဖြင့္လွစ္ေပးရန္ ေဆာင္႐ြက္ခ်က္မ်ားကို ႀကိဳဆိုေသာ္လည္း ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈ ဆက္လက္ပိတ္ပင္ထားသည့္ ၿမိဳ႕နယ္မ်ားတြင္ ၃၀-၉-၂၀၁၉ ရက္ေန႔အထိ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈ ပိတ္ပင္ခ်ိန္ ရက္ေပါင္း ၁၀၁ ရက္ ႐ွိၿပီျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ကုလသမဂၢ အေနျဖင့္ သတိျပဳမိပါသည္။

စဥ္ဆက္မျပတ္ အင္တာနက္ ဆက္သြယ္ႏိုင္ရန္ မ႐ွိမျဖစ္ လိုအပ္ပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံတြင္ ကုလသမဂၢ၏ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာေရးႏွင့္ ဖြံ႕ၿဖိဳးေရး လုပ္ငန္းေဆာင္႐ြက္သည့္ စြမ္းေဆာင္ရည္မွာ လက္ကိုင္ဖုန္းျဖင့္ အင္တာနက္ အသံုးျပဳႏိုင္သည့္ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈမ်ားကို အားကိုးအားထားျပဳရပါသည္။ သို႔ျဖစ္၍ အင္တာနက္ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈမ်ားကို ပိတ္ပင္ျခင္းသည္ ကုလသမဂၢ၏ လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားကို အဟန္႔အတား မ်ားစြာ ျဖစ္ေစပါသည္။ ထိခိုက္သူမ်ားအပါအ၀င္ ကြင္းဆင္းလုပ္ငန္းေဆာင္႐ြက္ေနသူမ်ားႏွင့္ ဆက္သြယ္ ေျပာဆိုရာတြင္ အခက္အခဲႏွင့္ ႐ႈပ္ေထြးမႈမ်ား ျဖစ္ေပၚပါသည္။ ထို႔ထက္ ပိုမိုက်ယ္ျပန္႔စြာ ထိခိုက္မႈမွာ ယင္းနယ္ေျမ ေဒသမ်ား႐ွိ ျပည္သူလူထုသည္ ဆက္လက္ျဖစ္ပြားေနေသာ လက္နက္ကိုင္ ပဋိပကၡေၾကာင့္လည္းေကာင္း၊ ယင္းႏွင့္ ဆက္စပ္ေနသည့္ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာေရး သြားေရာက္ေဆာင္႐ြက္ႏိုင္မႈဆုိင္ရာ ကန္႔သတ္ခ်က္မ်ား ေၾကာင့္လည္းေကာင္း ျပင္းထန္စြာ ထိခိုက္ခံစားရသည့္အျပင္ အင္တာနက္ကို ပိတ္ပင္မႈေၾကာင့္ ေန႔စဥ္လူမႈ ဘ၀တြင္ ထပ္မံ၍ အခက္အခဲမ်ားႏွင့္ ရင္ဆိုင္ရပါသည္။

အင္တာနက္သည္ သတင္းအခ်က္အလက္ ရ႐ွိေရးႏွင့္ လြတ္လပ္စြာ ထုတ္ေဖာ္ေျပာဆိုခြင့္တို႔အတြက္ အထူး အေရးႀကီးပါသည္။ တဖန္ သတင္းအခ်က္အလက္ ရ႐ွိေရးႏွင့္ လြတ္လပ္စြာ ထုတ္ေဖာ္ေျပာဆိုခြင့္တို႔ကို ရ႐ွိမွသာ အျခား အေျခခံ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးမ်ားကို ရ႐ွိေရး ဆက္လက္ေဆာင္႐ြက္ႏိုင္မည္ ျဖစ္ပါသည္။

အင္တာနက္ကို ပိတ္ပင္ျခင္းသည္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ႏိုင္ငံေတာ္အစိုးရက လက္မွတ္ေရးထိုးထားေသာ ေရ႐ွည္ တည္တံ့ခိုင္ၿမဲၿပီး စဥ္ဆက္မျပတ္ေသာ ဖြံ႕ၿဖိဳးမႈ ရည္မွန္းခ်က္ပန္းတုိင္ (SDG) မ်ားဆိုင္ရာမူမ်ား၊ တန္ဖိုးမ်ား ႏွင့္လည္း ဆန္႔က်င္ပါသည္။ SDG မ်ားတြင္ မည္သူမွ် ေနာက္က်မက်န္ရစ္ေစရန္ ေဆာင္႐ြက္ေရး ေဆာ္ၾသထားပါသည္။ အင္တာနက္ကို ပိတ္ပင္ျခင္းသည္ စားနပ္ရိကၡာ၊ ပညာသင္ၾကားေရး၊ က်န္းမာေရး ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈမ်ားႏွင့္ သတင္းအခ်က္အလက္မ်ား ရ႐ွိေရးဆိုင္ရာ အေျခခံ အခြင့္အေရးမ်ားကိုလည္း ဆက္လက္၍ ထိခိုက္ေစႏိုင္မည့္ အလားအလာ ရွိပါသည္။

သို႔ျဖစ္၍ ကုလသမဂၢအေနျဖင့္ ျပည္ေထာင္စုသမၼတျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ႏိုင္ငံေတာ္အစိုးရအား အင္တာနက္ ပိတ္ထားေသာ နယ္ေျမေဒသမ်ားတြင္ အင္တာနက္ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈမ်ား ခ်က္ခ်င္း ျပန္လည္ အသံုးျပဳႏိုင္ေစေရး ဖြင့္လွစ္ေပးရန္ႏွင့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာလူသားခ်င္းစာနာေရး ဥပေဒပါ ႏိုင္ငံေတာ္က ေဆာင္႐ြက္ရမည့္ တာ၀န္မ်ားႏွင့္အညီ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာေရး အဖြဲ႕အစည္းမ်ား အဟန္႔အတားမ႐ွိ သြားေရာက္ႏိုင္ေစေရး ကူညီပံ့ပိုးေဆာင္႐ြက္ေပးပါရန္ ေဆာ္ၾသလိုက္ပါသည္။

ေနာက္ထပ္ ေလ့လာသိ႐ွိလိုပါက ေအာက္ပါအတုိင္း ဆက္သြယ္ႏိုင္ပါသည္။

ဦးေအး၀င္း

National Information Officer

(ေဒသခံ ျပန္ၾကားေရးအရာ႐ွိ)

Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator

(ကုလသမဂၢ ဌာေနညႇိႏိႈင္းေရးမွဴးႏွင့္ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာမႈဆိုင္ရာညႇိႏိႈင္းေရးမွဴး႐ံုး)

United Nations Information Centre, Yangon

(ကုလသမဂၢ ျပန္ၾကားေရးဌာန၊ ရန္ကုန္ၿမိဳ႕)

အီးေမးလ္ wina@un.org

လက္ကိုင္ဖုန္း – (95) 9 421060343

UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Welcomes Myanmar’s ratification of OPAC

UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Welcomes Myanmar’s ratification of OPAC

New York, 27 September 2019 -The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, congratulates the Government of Myanmar for ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC).

Myanmar’s Union Minister for International Cooperation, His Excellency Mr. U Kyaw Tin, deposited the accession instrument during a ceremony that took place on the margins of the 74th General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The international engagement taken today by the Government of Myanmar to better protect its children is a welcome step. It is a commitment to put in place all the necessary measures to protect them from recruitment and use by both its armed forces and armed groups active in the country”, said Virginia Gamba.

Provisions on the demobilization and reintegration of all children under 18 and children presumed present in the ranks of Myanmar’s armed forces are also included in OPAC, a commitment already under implementation through the Security Council-mandated Joint Action Plan signed with the United Nations in 2012.

The Special Representative calls on the Government of Myanmar to swiftly translate this commitment into tangible measures for the protection of boys and girls and to end and prevent all six grave violations against children, including the killing and maiming of children and rape and other forms of sexual violence.

She further recommends the Government of Myanmar to refrain from enrolling children, including on a voluntary basis, into military academies.

Myanmar becomes the 169th State party to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, as OPAC will mark its 20th anniversary next year.

###

Note to editors:

Adopted by the General Assembly on 25 May 2000, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force on February 12th, 2002 and is a commitment that States will not recruit or conscript children under 18 to take part in hostilities.

Read more about the Optional Protocol here:  [/?page_id=568]https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/tools-for-action/opac/

For additional information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / vinet@un.org

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook:
www.twitter.com/childreninwar
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The Secretary-General Message on The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

U N I T E D   N A T I O N S                    N A T I O N S   U N I E S

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE TOTAL ELIMINATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

26 September 2019

Nuclear weapons pose a unique and potentially existential threat to our planet. Any use of nuclear weapons would be a humanitarian catastrophe.  Much progress has been made in reducing the dangers, but today I fear that not only has that progress come to a halt, it is going in reverse.

Relations between nuclear-armed States are mired in mistrust. Dangerous rhetoric about the utility of nuclear weapons is on the rise. A qualitative nuclear arms race is underway. The painstakingly constructed arms control regime is fraying. Divisions over the pace and scale of disarmament are growing.  I worry that we are slipping back into bad habits that will once again hold the entire world hostage to the threat of nuclear annihilation.

With last month’s expiration of the landmark Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty – or INF, the world lost an invaluable brake on nuclear war.  I strongly encourage the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called ‘New Start’ agreement to provide stability and the time to negotiate future arms control measures.

I also repeat my call on all State Parties to work together for a successful 2020 Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents the concerns of many States about the growing threat of nuclear weapons.  And the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty remains a long-overdue measure.

I once again call on all States to fully implement their commitments.  I also call on those States possessing nuclear weapons to engage in the urgent dialogue needed to prevent the use of nuclear weapons and agree on near-term practical steps in nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear weapons present an unacceptable danger to humanity. The only real way to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons is to eliminate nuclear weapons.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SIGN LANGUAGES

                                                                          

U N I T E D   N A T I O N S                                                             N A T I O N S   U N I E S

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SIGN LANGUAGES

23 September 2019

 Sign languages are crucial means for an individual to express oneself, connect with others and participate in all aspects of economic, social, cultural and political spheres.  Their use is also critical to ensuring access to information and services, including during emergencies, and to realizing the human rights of the more than 70 million deaf people around the globe. Early introduction and quality inclusive education in sign language are essential for their full and effective participation, as guided by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This International Day recognizes the importance of sign languages for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling its core promise of leaving no one behind.  It also offers an opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all sign language users.

With the adoption of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy earlier this year, the United Nations has established a foundation for sustainable and transformative change on disability inclusion. We will lead by example.

On this International Day of Sign Languages, let us reaffirm our commitment to advancing the rights of deaf people everywhere.

THE SECRETARY GENERAL MESSAGE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE

အျပည္ျပည္ဆိုင္ရာၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးေန႔အတြက္ ကုလသမဂၢအတြင္းေရးမွဴးခ်ဳပ္၏ သဝဏ္လႊာ
၂၀၁၉-ခုႏွစ္၊ စက္တင္ဘာလ ၂၁-ရက္

ကုလသမဂၢ၏ ေဆာင္ရြက္ခ်က္အားလံုးတြင္ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးကို ႏွလံုးသြင္းထားပါသည္။

ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး၏သေဘာသည္ စစ္ေဘးကင္းစင္ေသာ ကမၻာႀကီးတည္ရွိျခင္းထက္ ပိုက်ယ္ျပန္႔ပါသည္။

ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးသည္ အေျခခံလြတ္လပ္ခြင့္မ်ားကို လူတိုင္းခံစားကာ ရွင္သန္ႏိုင္ၿပီး အေျခခံလိုအပ္ခ်က္မ်ားအတြက္ ရုန္းကန္ေနရျခင္းမရွိသည့္ ႀကံႀကံခံႏိုင္ေသာ၊ တည္ၿငိမ္ေသာ လူ႔အဖြဲ႔အစည္းရွိျခင္းကို ဆိုလိုပါသည္။

ယေန႔ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးသည္ အႏၱရာယ္သစ္ကို ရင္ဆိုင္ေနရသည္။ ရာသီဥတုဆိုင္ရာ အေရးေပၚအေျခအေနသည္ ကၽြႏု္ပ္တို႔၏ လံုၿခံဳမႈ၊ ကၽြႏ္ုပ္တို႔၏ အသက္ေမြးဝမ္းေက်ာင္းႏွင့္ ကၽြႏု္ပ္တို႔၏ အသက္တို႔ကို ၿခိမ္းေျခာက္ေနပါသည္။

သို႔ျဖစ္၍ ရာသီဥတုဆိုင္ရာအေရးေပၚအေျခအေနသည္ ယခုႏွစ္ အျပည္ျပည္္ဆိုင္ရာၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးေန႔၏ အဓိကအခ်က္ျဖစ္သည္။

ထုိ႔ေၾကာင့္ ရာသီဥတုဆိုင္ရာလႈပ္ရွားမႈ ထိပ္သီးညီလာခံတစ္ခုကို ကၽြႏု္ပ္ စီစဥ္ေနပါသည္။

ဤသည္မွာ တစ္ကမၻာလံုးႏွင့္ဆိုင္ေသာ အေရးေပၚအေျခအေနျဖစ္ပါသည္။

အတူတကြေဆာင္ရြက္ၾကမွသာ ကၽြႏု္ပ္တို႔ ေနထိုင္ေသာ ဤကမၻာေျမဟာ ကၽြႏ္ုပ္တို႔အတြက္ သာမက ေနာင္လာေနာက္သားမ်ားအတြက္ပါ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္း သာယာဝေျပာၿပီး လံုၿခံဳပါလိမ့္မည္။

ယခုႏွစ္အျပည္ျပည္ဆိုင္ရာၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးေန႔တြင္ သင္တို႔အားလံုးကို ရာသီဥတုဆိုင္ရာ ခိုင္မာသည့္လႈပ္ရွားမႈလုပ္ေဆာင္ၾကၿပီး သင္တို႔ရဲ႕ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ားကိုလည္း ထိုကဲ့သို႔ုလုပ္ေဆာင္ၾကဖို႔ တုက္တြန္းလိုပါသည္။

ဤစိန္ေခၚမႈၿပိဳင္ပြဲကို ကၽြႏု္ပ္တို႔ အႏိုင္ရရွိႏိုင္ပါသည္။ ႏိုင္ကုိႏိုင္ရမည့္ ၿပိဳင္ပြဲႀကီး ျဖစ္ပါသည္။

 

THE SECRETARY GENERAL

MESSAGE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE
21 September 2019

Peace is at the heart of all our work at the United Nations.

And we know peace is much more than a world free of war.

It means resilient, stable societies where everyone can enjoy fundamental freedoms and thrive rather than struggle to meet basic needs.

Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods and our lives.

That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace.

And it’s why I am convening a Climate Action Summit.

This is a global crisis.

Only by working together can we make our only home peaceful, prosperous and safe for us and future generations.

On this International Day of Peace, I urge all of you:

take concrete climate action and demand it of your leaders.

This is a race we can and must win.

#

For Video Link: https://www.facebook.com/UNICYangon/videos/511652932743910/

SIGNS OF CHANGE IN YANGON

Monday, 23rd September, is the International Day of Sign Languages. UNIC Yangon visited a special cafe in downtown Yangon and wrote this story.

At first, it seemed like just another review of a new local café by a Facebook friend. But the name and concept of the café caught my attention. It is called “The Able” and it is run by people with disabilities.

Located in a small room in downtown Yangon, it was easy to miss without knowing about the place. There were clues, as if it were a game to try to locate the place.

The first clues were sketches of two hands at the bottom of a dark stairway. As I ascended the steps, a sign, scrawled on the wall said, “The Able, Sign Language Book Café, Embracing differences, Empowering inclusivity”.

The café only employs people with a hearing impairment. It was founded by Myo and three friends on a shoe-string budget. To communicate with staff, he and his friends learned sign language.

Slowly, they heard stories of challenges faced by people who only communicated in sign language: the waitress who lost her job because she was unable to explain a mishap; the young man with an incredible talent for art but was unable to attend school.

While I was there, a customer arrived. He conversed fluently in sign language. I watched him place his order and noticed that the staff were exchanging more than just the details of his order. The faces of the staff lit up and I was enthralled at their rapport. Here was inclusivity taking place and the feeling of empowerment by the staff was palpable.

Myo told me how important it was for the staff to feel a sense of belonging and non-discrimination.

The Able Café leaves no one behind. Here was diversity without fanfare- the Sustainable Development Goals in action. The concept of employing people with disabilities is not new.

This was the first social enterprise in Myanmar that employed people with a hearing impairment and who communicated only in sign language. The concept was new, and this was a beginning. The Able Café was a sign of things to come for people who communicated in sign language.

#IDSL2019 #IWDeaf2019

UN expert implores Myanmar’s Suu Kyi: “open your eyes, listen, feel with your heart”

UN expert implores Myanmar’s Suu Kyi: “open your eyes, listen, feel with your heart”

GENEVA (17 September 2019) – A UN human rights expert has implored Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to ‘feel with her heart before it is too late’, saying that even if refugees wished to return they have little to go back to.

Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, told the Human Rights Council the situation in Myanmar was of extreme concern, and was not what she and others had hoped to see nearly four years after the election of the National League for Democracy.

“I would like to ask the State Counsellor if the Myanmar that exists today is what she had truly aspired to bring about throughout the decades of her relentless fight for a free and democratic Myanmar? I implore you Madame State Counsellor to open your eyes, listen, feel with your heart, and please use your moral authority, before it is too late.”

Despite international condemnation, Lee said Myanmar had done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution against Rohingya, and that the Rohingya who remain in Rakhine live in the same dire circumstances that they did prior to the events of August 2017.

“They are denied citizenship and recognition, face regular violence (including in the context of the ongoing conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw), are unable to move freely and have little access to food, healthcare, education, livelihoods and services,” she said.

“Myanmar claims to have done what is necessary for the repatriation to be successful, and continues to blame Bangladesh for any delay,” she said. “However, information I have leads me to believe that the contrary is true.”

Lee noted that satellite imagery showed the development of 34 camps, but said their precise purpose was unclear. She said they may be intended to detain the remaining Rohingya population and those who decide to return.

She said satellite imagery shows the extent of development in northern Rakhine, including six military bases that had been built on the site of destroyed Rohingya villages. Of the 392 villages that were destroyed, there has been no attempt to reconstruct 320 of them, with 40 percent of villages having been completely razed to the ground. “Some of that demolition occurred in 2018 and some even in 2019, and all of this is completely antithetical to the claim that Myanmar is ready to receive the refugees. I further note that under Myanmar’s land laws, burned land reverts to Government ownership. In this situation, even if the refugees wished to return to Myanmar, what have they got to go back to?”

Lee added: “My belief is unwavering that accountability is necessary for the country as a whole, as well as being key to successful repatriation: it will bring about an end to the military’s violence against ethnic minorities in Myanmar and the possibility that the Rohingya could live safely in Rakhine.”

The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army, and accusations of indiscriminate use of heavy artillery fire, gunfire and landmines in civilian areas and civilians were killed as a result.

She said that in August the conflict in northern Shan worsened after coordinated attacks by the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army, known as the Three Brotherly Alliance. The attacks sparked intense fighting between the Tatmadaw and the ethnic armed organisations across inhabited areas and along main roads in northern Shan.

“Weeks of fighting were waged with disregard for the safety, welfare and rights of civilians.” Targeted and indiscriminate use of heavy artillery fire as well as landmines reportedly caused at least 17 civilian deaths and temporarily displaced an estimated 8,000 people in northern Shan, 1,600 of them remain displaced now.

ENDS

Ms. 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 and Independent Experts are part of 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 contactGeorgia Drake (+41-22928 9780 / gdrake@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org

Statement to the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar 17 September 2019

Madame Vice President,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Exactly one year ago, this Mission concluded that the Myanmar authorities, in particular the Tatmadaw, committed crimes against humanity and war crimes against ethnic communities in Myanmar. We found genocidal acts and the inference of genocidal intent, in the Tatmadaw’s 2017 “clearance operations” against the Rohingya population.  For decades, Myanmar’s security forces have enjoyed impunity for their brutal crimes. We called on the Government of Myanmar and the international community to step up to their responsibility to ensure accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims. We recommended further investigation of these crimes to establish individual criminal responsibility as a basis for future prosecution.

I commend this Council for taking the historic decision to mandate an Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to do exactly that, and I am pleased to report that the Mission has completed the transfer of its materials to the Investigative Mechanism in full compliance with the mandate given to us.  This includes 1,227 interviews with victims and witnesses from a total of 56,500 files.  We are confident that the materials we have shared, including a list of over one hundred and fifty people suspected of involvement in numerous international crimes, will serve as an important foundation upon which potential prosecution cases can be prepared. We underline the time-sensitive nature of this information and we encourage the Myanmar Mechanism to make the best use of these files.

Over the last year, this Mission continued its investigations. It produced three additional thematic reports as conference room papers, one on the economic interests of Myanmar’s military, one on sexual and gender-based violence and the gendered impact of Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts, and one on conflict-related and other human rights violations.

Let me begin by highlighting some key findings in relation to our thematic research.

In mapping out the Tatmadaw’s vast economic interests in Myanmar, we sought to provide a roadmap for economic disengagement from the Tatmadaw aimed not only at States and inter-governmental organisations but also at the business community, including international and domestic investors. The purpose of this research is to deter continued and future violations, and ensure accountability for perpetrators. I am pleased to report that, following the publication of our research, a number of entities have already indicated that they will halt economic dealings with Tatmadaw businesses. I call on other businesses and States to follow suit. I also reiterate our recommendation regarding the need for targeted sanctions against Tatmadaw leaders and their businesses and for investors to prioritise investing in non-military sectors of the Myanmar economy.

Regarding sexual and gender-based violence, the Mission presented a detailed and painful picture of grave patterns of rapes, gang rapes and other gender-based violence against ethnic communities in Myanmar, including with respect to men and boys and transgender people. These crimes leave lasting marks, which is why the report provided Member States with an understanding of the gendered impact of the ethnic conflicts. The Mission renews its call to action for accountability for these grave crimes, which has been highly inadequate so far.

Madame Vice President,

We looked at the pattern of commonalities in experiences of ethnic minorities in Rakhine, Chin, Shan, Kachin, and Kayin States.

With regard to the Rohingya, the situation of some 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State is largely unchanged. The underlying persecutory structural and systemic policies and practices continue.

The discriminatory laws, including the 1982 Citizenship Law, remain in effect. The Government’s insistence on a citizenship process based on the national verification cards is disingenuous. They continue to be used as a tool of persecution, rather than leading to inclusion through citizenship, they further exclude the Rohingya, many of whom historically were accepted as citizens of Myanmar and should again be recognized as such.

Contrary to the Government’s claims, camps for internally displaced persons have not been closed. Those who live in them continue to face daily hardships associated with living segregated from the rest of the communities. If anything, the situation of the Rohingya in Rakhine State has worsened, as they endure another year subjected to discrimination, segregation, movement restrictions and insecurity, without adequate access to livelihoods, land, basic services, including education and health care, or justice for past crimes committed against them by the Tatmadaw.

We conclude that there is a strong inference of continued genocidal intent on the part of the State in relation to the Rohingya, that there is a serious risk of genocide recurring and that Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide. Let me be clear. The policies, laws, individuals and institutions that laid the groundwork for the brutal “clearance operations” in 2016 and 2017 remain in place and strong. Impunity continues. Discrimination continues. Hate speech continues. Persecution continues.

The return of close to one million Rohingya refugees to Rakhine State is simply impossible under the current circumstances. There is nowhere safe and viable for them to return to. Rohingya lands and villages have been destroyed, cleared, confiscated and built on, including new structures that resemble camps, with Rohingya forced labour. The Government’s repatriation plans are inadequate. For this reason, we recommend a moratorium on domestic and international investment and development assistance in Rakhine State to ensure that investment and development assistance do not directly, indirectly or inadvertently consolidate the Tatmadaw’s persecution and genocidal intentions against the Rohingya population.

Madame Vice President,

Many of the hallmarks of the Tatmadaw’s operations, including its infamous “four cuts” strategy, aimed at cutting funding, food, recruits and intelligence of insurgent groups, are evident again in its recent conflict with the Arakan Army. Serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in a series of Tatmadaw attacks in northern Rakhine State and southern Chin State in the past months. Civilians, mostly ethnic minorities, are suffering the brunt of this latest conflict.  The Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army must stop the violence.

In the recent conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army a “fifth cut” has come to the fore, in the form of “cutting information”. A clampdown on freedom of expression, association and information, through a series of legal actions against individual journalists, restrictions on journalists’ access to the conflict areas and an internet shutdown, have deprived the population of the ability to communicate with the outside world and prevented the outside world from learning about the military operations in Rakhine. Notwithstanding the need to curb hate speech, this Tatmadaw strategy does not seem to have that legitimate objective and has been replicated in other parts of the country.

Regarding the situation in northern Myanmar, relative lulls in active hostilities in Kachin State are contrasted with intensified hostilities in Shan State, most notably since last month. A number of attacks by parties to the conflict that have led to death and injury to the civilian populations. They need to be further investigated to ascertain responsibility. Sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in northern Myanmar continues. The situation is volatile and is at risk of spiraling out of control. This Mission calls for restraint by all parties in northern Myanmar to settle their differences through negotiated peace, with the participation of all ethnic groups affected.

Madame Vice President,

The human rights catastrophe continues. The Government of Myanmar seems unconcerned.

This Mission firmly believes that international monitoring and public reporting are essential to ensure fact-based advocacy. Myanmar continues its state of denial. It has declined all dialogue with us and this is deeply regrettable.  It shows a lack of good faith towards human rights mechanisms, including this Mission.

That said, the Mission firmly believes that international advocacy works. The release of the two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in May, is an example of that. In order to act effectively, the international community must have reliable and verified information. For this reason, the Human Rights Council must mandate properly resourced regular, robust, monitoring, investigations and reporting.

On behalf of the Mission and my fellow Experts, Radhika Coomaraswamy and Chris Sidoti, I take this opportunity to thank the Human Rights Council for entrusting us with the honour of serving on this Mission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its support. Most importantly, we also thank the hundreds of victims, witnesses, civil society organizations and other interlocutors who have assisted us, many at considerable personal risk. Lastly, we pay tribute to all victims and survivors as they await justice, which we are certain will come.

Madame Vice President,

We have completed the mandate you gave us, but the Human Rights Council cannot walk away from the people of Myanmar.

Thank you.