Myanmar

 

  • MYANMAR: ‘The government needs to open the doors’

    CIVICUS speaks with Nay Lin Tun, a doctor and civil society humanitarian worker in Myanmar, about conflict in Rakhine State, the difficulties faced by minorities in the region, and civil society’s work to provide help.

    nay lin tun

    Can you tell us about your background and the work you’re doing in Rakhine State?

    I’m a doctor working in public health, particularly focusing on primary healthcare, reproductive and women’s health, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. I was part of a group who founded a civil society organisation, the Center for Social Integrity, which supports communities in conflict-affected areas, including Rakhine State. We’re trying to support people based on their needs, including their needs to food, shelter and livelihoods. Right now in Rakhine State we are providing basic humanitarian support, education, healthcare, livelihoods and water and sanitation services for people in the conflict areas. Because of my experience I focus on providing healthcare and humanitarian support.

    At the moment there is fighting in the north and east of Rakhine State between the Myanmar Army and the insurgent Arakan Army. According to the United Nations there are around 35,000 newly displaced people because of the fighting in 2019, living in camps in Rakhine State. We are supporting these communities and other conflict-affected communities in the area.

    What are some of the challenges minority groups face in Rakhine State?

    In my country there are 135 recognised ethnic groups. The majority ethnic group are the Bamar, who are the main group across most of Myanmar. At the other end of the spectrum are lots of small groups, often in the regions close to borders, who are becoming less and less recognised by the government. Different groups face different challenges. In Rakhine State there are religious, ethnic and social minorities, and they all face human rights challenges.

    The Rohingya community, who are Muslims, have been subjected to a lot of abuses. They are denied citizenship and treated as stateless persons. They are not recognised as an ethnic group by the 1982 Citizenship Law. They are called Bengalis by many in the dominant population groups, because they see them as belonging to Bangladesh. They have their movement restricted and struggle to access education and healthcare.

    Local hospitals are inadequate, so if there is a medical emergency people have to travel to a major city. Before 2017 they could go to the Bangladesh side of the border on a short-term pass and get hospital treatment, but now the border area is closed and they cannot do this. But because they don’t have citizenship and their movement is restricted, it is also hard to go to the big hospitals in Sitwe, the main city in Rakhine State. People can pay for this with their lives. If there is an emergency, the only way people can negotiate to get treatment is to pay a bribe. This happened to someone I was trying to treat for a tumour.

    In another case, a pregnant woman had severe labour pains in the middle of the night. They tried to take her to hospital, but there is a curfew, introduced in 2017 and in force ever since. No one can go out between 11pm and 5am. There are many police checkpoints in the area, and while other villages were okay, in this case they would not allow this pregnant woman to pass. She had to go home. By the time she could go to hospital the next day, the child was already dead. Luckily, the mother survived.

    Rohingya people are also denied education. The highest education most people can get is at high school. They cannot join a university as a full-time student. They can only do distance learning for a few subjects. They also struggle to find work. Most Rohingya people work in farming, fishing and cutting timber, but right now they are not allowed to fish or go into forests to chop wood. Most of the farming lands are occupied by the military. Most people are now involved in daily casual work. So everyday life is very challenging.

    The Rohingya are not the only minority in the region who face difficulties. Local ethnic groups such as the Chakma, Dynat and Mu, who live on the mountains, face challenges, even though their religion is Buddhist. Because they live in remote locations, they cannot access healthcare and education. They have no life opportunities.

    What was your experience of the violence that occurred in 2017?

    What I saw was people living in fear. I saw communities that were afraid of each other: Rohingya people and Rakhine people, the majority group within the state, were afraid of each other. I worked on medical clinics in northern Rakhine State and hired a taxi to transport medicines. My driver, who was from the Rakhine group, did not want to take me to the area. You had people unable to go to the other communities because they did not think they would come back.

    What role do you think hate speech and extremist views played in stoking conflict?

    Most of the hate speech and extremist protest and provocations came from extreme groups in the big cities, and was spread by social media, whereas in rural communities it was more that you had villages of different ethnic groups that were afraid of each other. There was a lot of misinformation spread through social media, and this was viral. No one could know what was true or not. Positive stories and true information were far less viral than hate speech and misinformation.

    In the major cities, hate speech and misinformation turned a social conflict into a religious conflict between Buddhism and Islam. Extremist Buddhist monks turned this into a bigger conflict. Extremist groups spread disinformation and encouraged extremism, with the unofficial support of the military and political parties, in their own interests. People played political games in the big cities, but they had no connection to the villages in the conflict area. Those people were the most affected and they were living in fear, and live in fear now. There is a big challenge in controlling hate speech and misinformation on social media.

    It is much harder for civil society voices promoting social cohesion and religious harmony to be heard compared to hate speech, but civil society is trying to do this. These are messages my organisation is trying to promote very strongly in the conflict areas. But there is a need for more impact, and more efforts, not just from civil society but from the government. There is a need for much more activity that strengthens communities.

    What support is needed, including from the international community, to improve the lives of minorities and people affected by conflict?

    There is a lot of willingness from the international community to support people in Rakhine State, and not only Rohingya people but also other minorities. But the most challenging thing at the moment is that national government and local authorities are limiting them from doing so, and have been doing since 2017. So there is a lack of ability to really go into the villages and directly help people.

    The international community needs to engage with the national government and local authorities so that they are willing to work with them and listen to the voices of local communities and support them in the areas affected by conflict. They need to build relationships with the government, and the government needs to work with the international community. The government needs to open the doors.

    It is all about access – access to healthcare, access to education, access to livelihoods. Right now access is blocked. Even access to the internet was blocked by the government, between June and September. People don’t have access to the means to share their voices. People are also scared of speaking out because of restrictive media laws. They fear they will get into trouble. This is why I try to share their stories. So, access is the big challenge. We need more access by the community for the community. This is why the government needs to open the doors for international and local civil society.

    Civic space in Myanmar is rated as ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Get in touch withCenter for Social Integrity through its website andFacebook pages, and on Twitter@cfor_integrity.

     

  • ‘The idea that a certain group does not belong in a country is instrumental in enabling discrimination and persecution against it’

    CIVICUS speaks toSusannah Sirkin, director of international policy and partnerships and senior advisor with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Founded in 1986, PHR uses medicine and science to document and call attention to mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. PHR’s work focuses on the physical and psychological effects of torture and sexual violence, the forensic documentation of attacks on civilians, the unnecessary and excessive use of force during civil unrest, and the protection of medical institutions and health professionals working on the frontline of human rights crises. Sirkin oversees PHR’s international policy engagement, including its work with the United Nations, domestic and international justice systems, and human rights coalitions, and is also responsible for managing and multiplying PHR’s strategic partnerships globally.

    1. What is the current situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and in the refugee camps in Bangladesh?

    The situation is absolutely desperate and devastating, both inside Myanmar, as far as anybody can tell, and in Bangladesh, as the world is able to see on television. Essentially, what we have witnessed over the past six months – although this has been building up for years – is what the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) has referred to as possible genocide, and what most organisations concerned with international law and human rights have denounced as crimes against humanity. Dozens of Rohingya villages have been burnt to the ground, forcing people to flee on long journeys through the jungle to reach a very precarious situation in Bangladesh. People fleeing have been pursued and attacked with guns and other weapons not just by the military but also by civilian members of the Burmese population.

    In Bangladesh, refugees are living in incredibly overcrowded, under-resourced, and dangerous camps – it’s hardly fair to even call them “camps,” although the situation has improved a bit over the past couple of months. More than 620,000 Rohingya, about half the population, have so far fled Rakhine state, and they have nowhere else to go. So they are forced to stay on a very small piece of land in one of the poorest and already most densely populated countries in the world. There have already been outbreaks of infectious diseases, and given the problems of overcrowding and lack of basic hygiene and sanitation, which my own team at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has recently reported, it is possible for infectious diseases to spread rapidly and with lethal results.

    Essentially, the world has witnessed the virtual destruction of a culture, a community and a portion of the Burmese population. Myanmar and Bangladesh have recently reached an agreement for the Rohingya to return to Myanmar, but nobody really believes such an agreement can be implemented under the present circumstances. In the first place, refugees shouldn’t be sent back to Myanmar unless citizenship and basic rights are guaranteed. In the second, the provisions in the agreement involve Rohingya providing documents according to citizenship laws that don’t recognise them as citizens. This is obviously hugely problematic. What’s more, they have no homes to return to, as their villages have been burned, their lands and cattle seized by their non-Muslim neighbours, and many in their families and communities killed. There have also been very serious reports of mass rapes of women and girls, as well as killings of babies and young children, so the situation couldn’t be worse on any count.

    2. Why is the Rohingya minority being specifically targeted?

    There’s a long history of discrimination and persecution of minority groups in Myanmar, not only of the Rohingya but also of the Chin, Kachin, Karen, and Shan minorities. PHR has documented the persecution of ethnic minorities in Myanmar for a decade, and other human rights groups have done it long before us.

    Historically, it has been a problem for people who are not Burmese to live in Burma or Myanmar. There is a hyper-nationalist strain among both the population and the country’s leadership, and, on top of this, the country has lived for decades under a military dictatorship that persecuted not only the political opposition but also ethnic and religious minorities.

    Myanmar has failed to recognise diversity and human rights for all its population. The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in a country that has a Buddhist majority, have long been deprived of their citizenship and treated as if they were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Many Rohingya have lived in Rakhine state for several generations, well over a hundred years, and belong in Myanmar as much as anybody else. However, in the latest census they were not counted among Burmese minorities but rather as foreigners lacking the protections that citizens receive under the law.

    The idea that a certain group does not belong in a country is instrumental in enabling discrimination and persecution against it. A few years ago, PHR released a report on the burning of Muslim homes in Buddhist-dominated areas of Myanmar. We documented a well-known massacre in the town of Meikhtila, where police and security officials stood by and watched as local population burned houses and people alive. These actions had long been encouraged by racist and anti-Muslim rhetoric, fuelled by a few very charismatic Buddhist monks that had much influence with the population.

    Before the 2015 crackdown and subsequent crisis, more than one million Rohingya lived in Myanmar, most of them in Rakhine state. Their relationship with their Buddhist neighbours had been tense for quite some time, and outbreaks of violence had been relatively frequent in the past. The current crisis broke out in August 2017, when government forces were attacked by militants and a “clearance operation” was launched by Myanmar security forces in response. Mass expulsion of the Rohingya has since been executed under the pretence of a counter-insurgency operation, with the local population joining in burning villages and killing people. This looks like a very well-coordinated effort between officials and citizens, which is very disturbing.

    In present Myanmar, the situation is compounded by the denial of human rights on multiple levels. We have recently seen a frightening crackdown on the freedom of expression in the country, and for some time the area in northern Rakhine State has been closed off to journalists. For some years now, it has been very difficult for humanitarian aid to reach the area. When a government shuts down access in such way, one can only fear the worst, because it strongly suggests that they are trying to hide something.

    3. Has progressive and human rights-oriented civil society in Myanmar and Bangladesh done anything to respond to this crisis? If so, what challenges have they faced?

    There have been efforts by very courageous individuals and organisations inside Myanmar, especially those representing minority groups, as well as human rights and humanitarian organisations. But it is extremely dangerous, if not impossible, to be an independent civil society voice inside Myanmar right now. For the Rohingya in Rakhine State, speaking up means sure death, and there is no access even for journalists to document what is going on in the area. So, unfortunately, even the most courageous members of civil society have been silenced by persecution.

    In Bangladesh, there are a number of efforts underway, particularly by the humanitarian community, to help the refugees. But it’s not the best possible situation in terms of humanitarian response, either. The fact that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was not designated as the lead agency has been viewed negatively, although there has been strong coordination between the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR. In any case, the refugee influx has been overwhelming and the early response was insufficient. Moreover, this is happening in a challenging environment, and we need to understand that such an influx of refugees can be nothing but overwhelming for a country like Bangladesh – which makes an adequate international response all the more important.

    4. You mentioned that the area where the atrocities are occurring is closed to journalists and civil society. What challenges have PHR and similar organisations faced in documenting the abuses?

    The number one challenge is that human rights groups can’t get into Myanmar. It is therefore extremely difficult to do what we are supposed to do in terms of properly and independently documenting and assessing the facts inside the country where the crimes have occurred. The prohibition not only applies to human rights civil society organisations – representatives of the UNHCHR and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar have also been barred from visiting the country. On the other hand, entry was allowed for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who was able to interview survivors and confirm reports of atrocities.

    As we lack access to Myanmar, we have instead documented what has happened to this people by interviewing them in Bangladesh. Thankfully, human rights groups and humanitarian organisations have had access to refugee camps, and this has been critical to documenting the plight of the Rohingya and their current humanitarian situation, and reporting on it. Doing this in the middle of a huge humanitarian crisis poses specific challenges. We are basically interviewing survivors who are desperately in need of trauma recovery, medical care, shelter, food, water, sanitation, and information about their missing family members. We have interviewed people who lost everybody in their families and are the sole survivors; people who have seen their homes burned to the ground, who had family members raped and shot dead, who were shot at even while crossing the river to get to Bangladesh. Documenting these kinds of human rights violations is certainly challenging for the person that is being interviewed, but it is also challenging for the one doing the reporting, because the need is so intense and the trauma is so acute – and we are a medically-based organisation, after all.

    5. What support should the international community offer to resolve this crisis?

    First, what most urgently requires a response from global governments is the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the ground in Bangladesh, in order to meet the most desperate needs of the refugees.

    Second, there is a need for governments of the most powerful countries with influence on the Myanmar government – including China, which has consistently supported the government – to exert pressure so Myanmar immediately stops persecuting this population and gives them the citizenship and associated guarantees that they are due.

    It is important to note that there have been high expectations regarding the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is now Myanmar’s nominal head of state, and her apparent lack of concern and acknowledgment of what her government has been doing have been very concerning. On one hand, we need to understand that she has limited control over the country’s military forces enacting the brutal campaign against the Rohingya. On the other hand, however, the international community needs to send Suu Kyi a strong message, since so much of the Burmese population views her as a leader and a hero, and her voice could change the tenor of this crisis – it could turn the population away from prejudice, discrimination, and persecution of the Rohingya and other minorities.

    Third, there needs to be credible efforts to establish accountability and justice. This is critical, given the seriousness of the crimes that have been committed. Unfortunately, efforts to refer the crimes in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court for assessment have been blocked by China, among others.

    Finally, it is also crucial to confront the flaws of the repatriation agreement, so that anybody who chooses to return to Myanmar is able to do so safely and with guarantees for all their human rights, including the right to reclaim their land, property, livelihood, and employment, as well as to practice their religion freely and safely. On the other hand, those who choose not to go back need to be guaranteed the right to claim asylum and find safe haven in another country. Policy-wise, the biggest challenge will be defining what will happen to these people who have fled in such high numbers.

    This will not be an easy crisis to solve. Global politics are not looking particularly good at the moment. World leaders and the Security Council have many other crises to deal with, including the North Korea situation, Iran, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and so on. Many of us are worried that people are going to forget about this particular crisis unfolding in a remote part of the world, so it is vital to continue to call attention to these serious human rights abuses and not let the world forget that this is an ongoing humanitarian crisis. As recently as last week, we’ve seen reports of outbreaks of diphtheria, and there are fears of a cholera epidemic, which will not be easy to contain. The long-term solution to this crisis will most definitely require continuous surveillance, reporting, and action by UN bodies, regional organisations, individual governments, and civil society.

    • Civic space in Myanmar is rated as ‘repressed’ in the CIVICUS Monitor, indicating serious restrictions in the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression.
    • Get in touch with PHR through their website or Facebook page, or follow @P4HR and @susannahsirkin on Twitter

     

  • 5 countries on CIVICUS Monitor watchlist presented to UN Human Rights Council

    Statement at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    This Council has identified restrictions on fundamental freedoms as a warning sign of an impending human rights crisis. Five countries were highlighted in the latest CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist, which puts a spotlight on a group of countries where there has been a rapid decline in respect for civic space. 

    These include Myanmar, where a military coup has led to deaths of at least 50 protesters, and the arbitrary detention of more than a thousand activists, protesters and politicians, while journalists are targeted daily. 

    In Nicaragua, there has been systematic repression of demonstrations. Human rights defenders, journalists and perceived political opponents face criminalisation and harassment, and a recent onslaught of repressive laws hinders civic space still further.

    In Poland, months of ongoing protests sparked by a near-total ban on abortion have been met with excessive force by authorities and far-right groups. Laws and reforms which undermine judicial independence and the rule of law have been passed since 2015 and media freedom is under threat. 

    In Russia, there have been large scale attacks on peaceful assembly and journalists during the massive nationwide peaceful protests. Over 10,000 protesters have been detained.

    In Togo, where civic space has been backsliding since 2017, the detention of a journalist and trade unionists and the suspension of a newspaper are recent examples highlighting the deterioration in the respect of civic freedoms.

    The Council cannot fulfill its protection or prevention mandates unless it is prepared to take meaningful action in situations which show such warning signs. We call for stronger scrutiny on Myanmar and Nicaragua to be brought by the Council this session, and for due attention on Poland, Russia and Togo to prevent deteriorating situations on the ground. 

    Civic space ratings by CIVICUS Monitor
    Open Narrowed Obstructed  Repressed Closed

     

     

  • 5 países de la lista de vigilancia de CIVICUS se presentan al Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU

     

    Declaración en el 46º período de sesiones del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU

    Este Consejo ha identificado las restricciones a las libertades fundamentales como una señal de alarma de una inminente crisis de derechos humanos. Cinco países han sido destacados en la última lista de vigilancia de CIVICUS Monitor, la cual pone el punto de mira un grupo de países en los que se ha producido un rápido declive del respeto al espacio cívico.

    Entre ellos se encuentra Myanmar, donde un golpe militar ha provocado la muerte de al menos 50 manifestantes y la detención arbitraria de más de mil activistas, manifestantes y políticos, mientras que los periodistas son objeto de ataques diarios.

    En Nicaragua se ha producido una represión sistemática de las manifestaciones. Los defensores de derechos humanos, los periodistas y los presuntos opositores políticos sufren criminalización y acoso. Además, una reciente oleada de leyes represivas obstaculiza aún más el espacio cívico.

    En Polonia, las autoridades y los grupos de extrema derecha han respondido con una fuerza excesiva a los meses de protestas desencadenadas por la prohibición casi total del aborto. Desde 2015 se han aprobado leyes y reformas que socavan la independencia judicial y el Estado de derecho. Asimismo, la libertad de los medios de comunicación está amenazada.

    En Rusia se han producido agresiones a gran escala contra las reuniones pacíficas y los periodistas durante las masivas protestas pacíficas a nivel nacional. Más de 10.000 manifestantes han sido detenidos.

    En Togo, donde el espacio cívico se ha visto limitado desde 2017, la detención de un periodista y de sindicalistas y la suspensión de un periódico son ejemplos recientes que ponen de manifiesto el deterioro del respeto a las libertades cívicas.

    El Consejo no puede cumplir sus mandatos de protección o prevención a menos que esté preparado para tomar medidas significativas en situaciones que muestren tales señales de alerta. Pedimos que el Consejo lleve a cabo un examen más riguroso de Myanmar y Nicaragua en este periodo de sesiones, y que preste la debida atención a Polonia, Rusia y Togo para evitar el deterioro de la situación sobre el terreno.

    Calificaciónes de espacio cívico - CIVICUS Monitor
    Abierto Estrecho Obstruido  Represivo Cerrado

     

     

  • Advocacy priorities at 47th Session of UN Human Rights Council

    The 47th Session is set to run from 21 June to 15 July, and will cover a number of critical thematic and country issues. Like all Sessions held over the course of the pandemic, it will present challenges and opportunities for civil society engagement. CIVICUS encourages States to continue to raise the importance of civil society participation, which makes the Human Rights Council stronger, more informed and more effective.

     

  • ASEAN summit must call on Myanmar's military to end the violence and restore elected government

     

    Re: ASEAN summit must address grave violations in Myanmar by security forces
    To: H.E. Lim Jock Hoi
    Secretary-General of ASEAN
    70A Jalan Sisingamangaraja
    Jakarta 12110, Indonesia
    CC: ASEAN Foreign Ministers
    Members of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)
    ASEAN Missions to the United Nations Office in Geneva
    Le Thi Nam Huong, ASEAN Assistant Director Human Rights Division

     

    Dear Secretary General,

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members in more than 175 countries throughout the world.

    We are writing to you with regards to the ongoing human rights crisis in Myanmar following the military coup and declaration of the state of emergency on 1 February 2021 and ahead of the planned summit by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the crisis scheduled for 24 April 2021. As violence escalates, the situation poses a severe risk to humanitarian and political security in the region. ASEAN has both a critical role to play in addressing this crisis, and also a responsibility to protect those on the ground, including the millions of people in Myanmar who face ongoing human rights violations. Further, with elections overturned, the coup has deprived the people of Myanmar of their elected government which is inconsistent with the principles in the ASEAN Charter.

    We have been documenting the state of civic freedoms in the country and are extremely concerned about the brutal crackdown on peaceful protests and civilians by the security forces, which continue unchecked. At least 700 people have been unlawfully killed or extrajudicially executed, including children, as security forces have resorted to violent tactics and battlefield weapons.1 Thousands have also been injured.

    Security forces have also unleashed a campaign of random terror at night in residential areas of Yangon and other cities and towns. They are conducting house-to-house searches beating, arresting and even murdering people apparently at random, while destroying or looting private property.2

    The security forces have also taken over 3,000 people into custody including politicians, election officials, journalists, activists, and protesters and refused to confirm their location or allow access to lawyers or family members.3 Many are facing charges including treason, for causing fear, ‘spreading fake news or agitating against government employees’ under section 505(A) of the Penal Code and other laws, some which have been tightened following the coup, removing rights with respect to liberty and security of person and due process. 4

    The junta has also continued to impose an internet shutdown. Multiple telecoms companies have been ordered to shut off various internet services like mobile data, roaming and public wi-fi for different lengths of time. The efforts appear designed to interfere with protestors organising and to prevent Myanmar citizens, journalists and human rights activists from easily broadcasting what’s happening on the ground to the rest of the world.

    Despite these repressive actions by the military junta, the brave people of Myanmar have continued to mobilise to demand that democracy be restored. Further, on 8 February, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) was formed, representing elected members of the Union Parliament from the National League for Democracy (NLD) and a National Unity Government was formed on 16 April 2021.

    International and regional response

    Since the coup we have seen strong condemnation from the international community with regards to the severe human rights violations in Myanmar. Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on states with influence to urgently apply concerted pressure on the military in Myanmar to halt the commission of grave human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity.5

    On 24 March, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution on Myanmar which mandates dedicated monitoring and reporting from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights focusing on accountability, and on rule of law and security sector reform following the coup. It furthermore calls for an assessment by the High Commissioner on the implementation of recommendations relating to the economic interests of the military.6

    On 17 March 2021, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar - created by the United Nations Human Rights Council - said it was closely following events and collecting evidence regarding arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearances and the use of force, including lethal force, against those peacefully opposing the coup.7 On 2 April, the UN Security Council “strongly condemned” the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Myanmar, in a unanimous statement. It also called on regional organizations, in particular ASEAN, to address the situation in Myanmar.8

    A number of countries have also since imposed sanctions against military officials including the Tatmadaw's Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing, and Deputy-Commander-in-Chief, Soe Win as well as two military holding companies, Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC).

    Within ASEAN, Brunei, the current chair has called for a “return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar" adding that "we recall the purposes and the principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, including, the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore have all expressed alarm over the killings of demonstrators.9

    CIVICUS believes this summit is a critical opportunity for ASEAN governments to take necessary steps to address the human rights violations in Myanmar. Failure to do so risks further damaging ASEAN’s reputation as an effective regional body that can meaningfully contribute to a strong and viable community of nations.

    Therefore, we call on ASEAN governments to:

    • Call upon the Myanmar military regime to respect the will of the people as expressed by the results of the general elections of 8 November 2020, to end the state of emergency and to restore the elected civilian government. Consider suspending Myanmar from ASEAN if these calls are not met;
    • Call on the military regime to release all individuals arbitrarily detained, including government officials and politicians, human rights defenders, journalists, civil society members; immediately refrain from the use of excessive force and firearms against protesters and respect people’s right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;
    • Urge the military regime to allow unfettered Internet access, including on all mobile phone networks and lift all restrictions on access to media sites, social media platforms and refrain from imposing any further restrictions against use of internet;
    • Take proactive steps in providing humanitarian assistance particularly in ethnic and ceasefire areas, including by optimizing the role of ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) and ensure there will be no deportation of those fleeing the repression in Myanmar;
    • Deny recognition of the military junta and instead engage with the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) and the National Unity Government as the legitimate government of Myanmar;
    • Urge the Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar and cooperate fully with UN mandates.

    We urge all ASEAN member states to address these issues as a matter of priority and we hope to hear from you on our concerns, as soon as possible.

    Regards,

    David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation


    1. Arrests, deadly attacks on protest movement escalate despite condemnation, sanctions on Myanmar, CIVICUS Monitor, 9 April 2021, https://monitor.civicus.org/updates/2021/04/09/arrests-deadly-attacks-protest-movement-escalate-despite-condemnation-sanctions-myanmar/

    2.  ‘The Cost of the Coup: Myanmar Edges Toward State Collapse’, International Crisis Group, 1 April 2021, https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/b167-cost-coup-myanmar-edges-toward-state-collapse

    3.  ‘Myanmar: Hundreds Forcibly Disappeared, Human Rights Watch’, 2 April 2021, https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/04/02/myanmar-hundreds-forcibly-disappeared 

    4.  ‘Deadly violence against protesters by security forces as crackdown escalates in Myanmar’, CIVICUS Monitor, 9 March 2021, https://monitor.civicus.org/updates/2021/03/09/deadly-violence-against-protesters-security-forces-crackdown-escalates-myanmar/

    5.  ‘Myanmar heading towards a ‘full-blown conflict’, UN human rights chief warns’, UN News, 13 April 2021, https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1089612

    6.  ‘UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on Myanmar’, CIVICUS, 24 March 2021,  https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/united-nations/geneva/5005-un-human-rights-council-adopts-resolution-on-myanmar 

    7.  ‘IIMM: Recipients of illegal orders should contact us’, United Nations, 17 March 2021, https://iimm.un.org/iimm-recipients-of-illegal-orders-should-contact-us/ 

    8.  ‘UN Security Council Press Elements on Myanmar’, United Nations Myanmar, 1 April 2021, https://myanmar.un.org/en/123792-un-security-council-press-elements-myanmar   

    9.  ‘ASEAN leaders to meet over Myanmar, says chair Brunei’, Reuters, 5 April 2021, https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/asean-leaders-meet-over-myanmar-says-chair-brunei 

     

  • Cinq pays sur la liste de surveillance de CIVICUS présentés au Nations Unies

     

    Déclaration lue au cours de la 46ème session du Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies

    Le Conseil a identifié des cas d’entraves aux libertés fondamentales comme le signe avant-coureur d’une crise imminente des droits humains. Cinq pays ont été mis en évidence dans la dernière liste de surveillance de CIVICUS, qui attire l’attention sur un groupe de pays où l’on constate un recul rapide dans le respect de l’espace civique.

    Il s’agit notamment du Myanmar, où un coup d’État militaire a entraîné la mort d’au moins 50 manifestants et l’arrestation arbitraire de plus d’un millier de militants, de manifestants et de responsables politiques, tandis que des journalistes sont pris pour cible quotidiennement.

    Au Nicaragua, les manifestations ont systématiquement été réprimées. Les défenseurs des droits humains, les journalistes et les opposants politiques présumés sont victimes de répression pénale et de harcèlement, et une série de lois répressives adoptées récemment entrave encore davantage l’espace civique.

    En Polania, les autorités et les groupes d’extrême droite ont fait un usage excessif de la force lors des mois de manifestations déclenchées par l’interdiction presque totale de l’avortement. Des lois et des réformes qui compromettent l’indépendance de la justice et l’État de droit ont été adoptées depuis 2015, et la liberté des médias est menacée.

    En Russie, des attaques de grande ampleur ont eu lieu contre les rassemblements pacifiques et les journalistes lors des grandes manifestations pacifiques dans tout le pays. Plus de 10 000 manifestants ont été arrêtés.

    Au Togo, où l’espace civique recule depuis 2017, l’arrestation d’une journaliste et de syndicalistes et la fermeture d’un journal sont des exemples récents qui illustrent la dégradation des libertés civiques.

    Le Conseil ne peut pas remplir ses mandats de protection ou de prévention s’il n’est pas prêt à prendre des mesures concrètes face à des situations qui présentent de tels signes avant-coureurs. Nous demandons au Conseil de procéder à un examen plus approfondi de la situation au Myanmar et au Nicaragua au cours de cette session, et d’accorder toute l’attention nécessaire à la Pologne, à la Russie et au Togo afin d’éviter que la situation sur le terrain de ces pays ne se détériore encore davantage. 

    Evaluation de l'espace civique - CIVICUS Monitor
    Ouvert Rétréci Obstrué Réprimé Fermé
     

     

     

  • CIVICUS condemns conviction of Reuters journalists on trial in Myanmar

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, believes the conviction of two journalists employed by global news agency, Reuters, who have been on trial in Myanmar is a dark day for press freedom in Myanmar. The two journalists have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

    Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on December 12, 2017 under the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The reporters, who were facing up to 14 years imprisonment if convicted, were arrested after being handed documents by police officers during a dinner meeting, that turned out to be secret government documents relating to Myanmar’s western Rakhine state and security forces, according to the country’s Information Ministry.

    At the time of their arrest, the journalists, who both pleaded “not guilty” to charges, had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Inn Din village in Rakhine during a brutal military crackdown in that state against the Rohingya minority that began last August. During the trial, a police captain, admitted in court that a senior officer had ordered his subordinates to “trap” the journalists by handing them the classified documents. He was subsequently sentenced to a one-year prison term.

    In recent months, there have been continued attacks on fundamental freedoms in Myanmar with dozens being arrested and charged for peaceful protests or for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    “We believe the verdict in this trial is a travesty of justice and sends a chilling message to all journalists in the country,” said Clementine de Montjoye, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at CIVICUS:

    “Prosecutions on spurious grounds serve to intimidate local journalists and activists, and this trial is representative of the Myanmar government’s repeated attempts to cover up its actions,” said de Montjove.

    “Given the state-sponsored atrocities being committed in Myanmar today, the government’s crackdown on independent investigations and dissent is hardly surprising”.

    In an End of Mission report issued in July, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said “the democratic space in Myanmar continues to sharply deteriorate”. Her report also highlighted concerns about the use of repressive laws to suppress political dissidents, youth, human rights defenders and activists and the arrest of demonstrators around the country.

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, has rated civic space in Myanmar as repressed. CIVICUS stands in solidarity with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and all Myanmars who work to promote democracy and the protection of fundamental freedoms.

    ENDS.

    For more information, contact:

    Clementine de Montjoye

     

     

     

  • Country recommendations for UN Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    All UN member states have their human rights records reviewed every 4.5 years.  CIVICUS  and partners make UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space in Australia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, and Rwanda

    CIVICUS and its partners have made joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 7 countries in advance of the 37th UPR session (January 2021). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.

    AustraliaThis submission raises alarm over the increasing criminalisation of climate and environmental movements and defenders, including Indigenous peoples, scientists, student strikers and environmental organisations, in the wake of Australia’s recent bushfires. It further discusses the unwarranted restrictions on media freedoms due, in large part, to an increase in police raids on independent media outlets. Moreover, its expresses concern over recent attempts to silence whistle-blowers who reveal government wrongdoing under the Intelligence Services Act.

    Lebanon In its submission CIVICUS, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, International Media Support (IMS), Social Media Exchange (SMEX) examine how the  government has persistently failed to address the brutal and violent dispersal of peaceful protests, the arrest and prosecution of journalists and protesters and restrictions on the activities of CSOs advocating for women’s and LGBTQI+ rights. It also discusses legal and extra-legal restrictions on the freedom of association and, in particular, the systematic targeting of associations and activities by the LGBTQI+ community. Moreover, it assesses the continued deterioration of the freedom of expression, as highlighted by the increase in judicial proceedings against media outlets critical of the authorities, threats to digital rights, raids and attacks by security forces and sometimes by members of the public on media outlets.

    Mauritania (FR) CIVICUS and Réseau Ouest-Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/ West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH / WAHRDN) demonstrates that since its last review, the Government of Mauritania has not implemented any of the recommendations relating to civic space. Instead, civic space in Mauritania remains repressed, and civil society actors, especially those working on anti-slavery campaigns and seeking to end racial and ethnic discrimination are frequently targeted and intimidated by the state. Civil society actors face legal and practical barriers to exercising their rights to association and peacefully assembly, which is hampered by the 1964 Law on Associations and Law No. 73-008 on Public Assemblies.

    Myanmar The submission by CIVICUS, Free Expression Myanmar and Asia Democracy Network highlights the use of an array of unwarrantedly restrictive laws to arrest and prosecute human rights defenders, activists, journalists and government critics for the peaceful exercise of their freedoms of association and expression. It also documents the restrictions on peaceful protests in law and practice, the arbitrary arrest and prosecution of protesters and the use of excessive force and firearms to disperse protests against government policies and land disputes with businesses.

    NepalCIVICUS and Freedom Forum examine howrepressive laws, including amendments made to Nepal’s criminal code, have been used to limit the work of independent CSOs and suppress the freedom of expression. The submission further discusses how the ongoing attacks against journalists and the suppression of peaceful assembly continues to undermine civil space in the country. An evaluation of a range of legal sources and human rights documentation addressed in this submission demonstrate that the Government of Nepal has not implemented any of the recommendations relating to civic space during its previous UPR examination.

    OmanThe Omani Association for Human Rights, Gulf Centre for Human Rights and CIVICUS highlight the closure of civic space in Oman and the use of restrictive legislation to target human rights defenders, journalists and writers and civil society organisations.  We outline concerns over the forced closure of human rights organisations, the shutting down of independent newspapers and the banning of books and other publications.  Human rights defenders and journalists are often subjected to arbitrary arrests and judicial persecution for their reporting and human rights activities. Due to these restrictions, several human rights defenders and their families have fled into exile.  Freedom of peaceful assembly is also severely restricted as provisions in the Penal Code are used to pre-empt and prevent protests and stop those that actually take place. 

    RwandaThe submission byCIVICUS and DefendDefenders (EHAHRDP) outlines serious concerns related to the unabated repression of the work of human rights defenders, civil society activists and journalists. The submission explores how restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, expression and access to information have been codified and willfully misapplied under Law No. 68/2018  (on assembly), Law N0 04/12 (on association and activities of CSOs), and the Law on Prevention and Punishment of Cybercrimes (expression and access to information). The Submission makes a number of action-oriented recommendations in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Rwandan Constitution, the ICCPR, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6, 27/5 and 27/31. 

    See all of our UPR submissions here.


    Country civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor: 

    AustraliaLebanon, MauritaniaMyanmar, NepalOman, Rwanda

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

  • El Reino Unido responde a las preguntas realizadas por los miembros de CIVICUS al Consejo de Seguridad

    En el marco de sus consultas con la sociedad civil durante su presidencia del Consejo de Seguridad del mes de agosto, la Misión Permanente del Reino Unido de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte ante las Naciones Unidas respondió a las preguntas presentadas por los miembros de CIVICUS sobre la situación de seguridad en la República Democrática del Congo, Eritrea, Etiopía, Gaza y Birmania.


    La sociedad civil ocupa un papel importante en los programas del Consejo de Seguridad y CIVICUS desea agradecer al Reino Unido y a todos los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad por su compromiso constante con la participación de la sociedad civil en el trabajo del Consejo.

    El Consejo de Seguridad sigue de cerca la situación en la República Democrática del Congo (RDC).  En la resolución 2409 solicitamos al Secretario General que se nos proporcionaran informes cada treinta días.  El Consejo también aborda con frecuencia la situación de la RDC. El Consejo de Seguridad insiste en la importancia de que se celebren elecciones pacíficas, creíbles, inclusivas y oportunas el 23 de diciembre de 2018, en conformidad con el calendario electoral, que conduzcan a un traspaso pacífico del poder, según las disposiciones de la Constitución congoleña.  El Consejo de Seguridad también destaca la importancia de proteger a los civiles, incluso mediante el mandato de la MONUSCO, para la cual su protección es una prioridad estratégica. Durante la presidencia británica tuvo lugar una sesión informativa del Consejo de Seguridad sobre la RDC centrada en las próximas elecciones. Aquí puede consultarse la declaración del embajador.
     
    El Consejo de Seguridad publicó una comunicado sobre la firma de la Declaración conjunta de paz y amistad entre Eritrea y Etiopía del 9 de julio de 2018

    El OOPS fue creado por mandato de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas.  La posibilidad de que se suspendan sus servicios debido al actual déficit financiero del OOPS es motivo de gran preocupación para los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad, como así se expresó durante las consultas del Consejo celebradas el 22 de agosto sobre la situación en Oriente Medio.

    El Reino Unido sigue firmemente comprometido con el OOPS y con los refugiados palestinos de todo Oriente Medio. Ante las crecientes presiones financieras, el Reino Unido ha aportado alrededor de 60 millones de dólares americanos en 2018. Instamos a otros países a que proporcionen financiación adicional y a que efectúen desembolsos periódicos para garantizar que el OOPS siga llevando acabo su labor esencial.

    El Consejo de Seguridad sigue de cerca y con preocupación la situación en Gaza, por ejemplo, a través de las reuniones informativas periódicas como la que la Secretaria General Adjunta, Rosemary DiCarlo, ofreció ante el Consejo el 22 de agosto.
     
    El principal objetivo a largo plazo del Reino Unido es el retorno seguro, voluntario y digno a Rakáin, bajo supervisión internacional, del mayor número posible de refugiados rohinyás que se encuentran actualmente en Bangladés. En la actualidad, consideramos que las condiciones no son las adecuadas para el regreso de los refugiados. Apoyaremos a Birmania para que así lo haga, pero necesita realizar mejoras tangibles sobre el terreno. De manera más inmediata, Birmania debería permitir el acceso sin trabas de la ONU al norte de Rakáin.

    El Reino Unido ha acogido con satisfacción el anuncio de Birmania de crear una comisión de investigación sobre la violencia en Rakáin. Ahora es esencial que el gobierno birmano establezca las condiciones para que dicha investigación sea creíble, transparente e imparcial. Aún esperamos la decisión de la CPI con el fin de saber si tiene jurisdicción sobre las deportaciones de rohinyás a Bangladés (país signatario del Estatuto de Roma).
     
    Este mes, los miembros de CIVICUS preguntaron por las libertades cívicas en Colombia, la retirada de las tropas de la UNAMID de Darfur, la inseguridad alimentaria en el Sahel, la reubicación de la embajada de los Estados Unidos en Jerusalén, el deterioro del espacio cívico en Uganda, el caso de Omar Al Bashir en la Corte Penal Internacional y la amenaza mundial que supone la ciberdelincuencia.

    Estas preguntas y respuestas son el resultado de un llamamiento mensual a los miembros de CIVICUS para que envíen sus preguntas al presidente del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. Esta es una oportunidad para que los miembros entren en contacto con un importante foro internacional de toma de decisiones. El personal de CIVICUS plantea las preguntas en nombre de los miembros de CIVICUS durante el informe mensual del presidente. ¡Hágase socio de CIVICUS para mantenerse informado y participar en esta acción!

     

  • Human Rights Council: Restrictions on civil society will curtail any chance of building back better

    Statement at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Thank you, Madame President; High Commissioner.

    We welcome your update and strongly agree that recovering better requires ensuring participation for all. In this very difficult year, we are encouraged that civic activism has continued as people have mobilised to demand their rights.

    But across the world, civil society has been impeded in its work.  The CIVICUS Monitor shows that in the context of COVID-19 measures, protest rights have been violated and restrictions on freedom of expression continue as states enact overly broad emergency legislation that limits human rights.

    We reiterate that restrictions on civil society will curtail any chance of building back better. States should indeed be investing in protecting and promoting a free and independent civil society at this crucial time.

    The Council has the opportunity to act immediately on a number of situations where civic space is being threatened. In Sri Lanka, attacks against civil society are compounding grave failures of accountability. In Nicaragua, where ahead of elections, restrictions on civic space and expressions of dissent are likely to escalate. Myanmar, where we are inspired by the courage of people who risk lives and freedom every day to protest the coup, who continue to fear violent crackdown on dissenting voices. In India, where the government has continued its persecution of human rights defenders, student leaders, journalists and other critics, including through restrictive laws, prolonged pre-trial detention and excessive force perpetrated against protesters. 

    We call on the Council this Session to take measures to support civil society by acting now, on the situations brought before it. Situations which require immediate action.

     

     

  • Joint Call for a Global Arms Embargo on Myanmar

    Over 130 Organisations write an open letter to the UN Security Council and individual UN Member States to urgently institute a coordinated global arms embargo on Myanmar in response to the military coup.

    We, the undersigned organizations, call on the United Nations Security Council and UN member states to urgently institute a coordinated, global arms embargo on Myanmar in response to the February 1, 2021 military coup that has deprived the people of Myanmar of the right to democratically elect their government. Our concerns are heightened by ongoing violations of human rights and the security forces’ history of grave abuses against peaceful critics of military rule, as well as against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups.

    Under the commander-in-chief, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the Myanmar military has detained the elected civilian leaders of the country, nullified the results of the November 2020 democratic elections, and installed a junta, the State Administration Council, under a manufactured “state of emergency.” Since February 1, the junta has increasingly used excessive and at times lethal force at demonstrations; threatened and arbitrarily detained activists, journalists, students, and civil servants; and imposed rolling internet shutdowns that put lives at risk.

    Days after the coup, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “We will do everything we can to mobilize all the key actors and international community to put enough pressure on Myanmar to make sure that this coup fails.” The UN special rapporteur on Myanmar has called for targeted UN sanctions on the military and an arms embargo, while the deputy high commissioner for human rights has voiced support for targeted UN sanctions on the coup leaders.

    In that spirit, we urge the Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar. Such a resolution should bar the direct and indirect supply, sale, or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment, including dual-use goods such as vehicles and communications and surveillance equipment, as well as the provision of training, intelligence, and other military assistance. The embargo should be accompanied by robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

    Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.

    Until the Council acts, individual UN member states should adopt measures at the national and regional levels to block sales and other transfers of weapons and materiel to Myanmar, with the goal of extending an arms embargo to as close to a global scale as possible. 

    For decades, the Security Council’s response to crimes by the Myanmar security forces has been inadequate, emboldening the military to continue committing abuses without fear of serious consequences. The current crisis demands a change in course.

    On February 4, the Security Council spoke with a single voice to demand the release of all those arbitrarily detained and the protection of the country’s democratic institutions. Council members should use that newfound consensus to take swift and substantive action. An arms embargo would be the centerpiece of a global effort to shield the people of Myanmar from a return to abusive and autocratic rule.

    The time to act is now.

    Signatories

    Access Now
    Advocacy Forum-Nepal
    AFL-CIO
    All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
    Arakan Information Center 
    Arakan Rivers Network
    Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights
    ARTICLE 19
    ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
    Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
    Asia Democracy Network
    Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Asian Human Rights Commission
    Asian Migrant Centre
    Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
    Asian Resource Foundation
    Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
    Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM)
    Australian Centre for International Justice
    Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
    BALAOD Mindanaw
    Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan
    Brotherhood For Democracy (BFD)
    Burma Campaign UK
    Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
    Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan
    Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia
    Bytes For All
    Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
    Cambodian Food And Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)
    Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
    Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
    Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
    Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
    Center for Peace Education, Miriam College
    Center for Social Integrity
    Centre for Human Rights and Development
    Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Climate Change Working Group-Myanmar
    Colorful Girls
    Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC)
    Cross Cultural Foundation 
    CSW
    Dawei Pro Bono Lawyer Network 
    Democracy, Peace and Women Organization
    DHEWA (Development for Health, Education, Work, and Awareness) Welfare Society
    Equality Myanmar
    Equitable Cambodia
    European Rohingya Council
    Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
    Fortify Rights
    Free Rohingya Coalition
    Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    Global Justice Center
    Global Witness
    Htoi Gender and Development Foundation
    Human Rights First
    Human Rights Foundation of Monland 
    Human Rights Law Centre
    Human Rights Office-Sri Lanka
    Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Without Frontiers
    Info Birmanie
    Innovation for Change Network 
    Institute for Asian Democracy
    Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
    International Campaign for the Rohingya
    International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), Asia Pacific
    International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)
    International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
    Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma
    Jubilee Australia
    Justice for All/Burma Task Force
    Justice for Myanmar
    Kachin State Women’s Network
    Karapatan Alliance Philippines
    Karen Human Rights Group
    KontraS Aceh
    Loka Ahlinn Social Development Organization 
    Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN)
    MAP Foundation
    Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)
    Mekong Migration Network
    Mennonite Central Committee
    MeSheWe
    Mother Nature Cambodia
    Myanmar Human Rights Alliances Network (MHRAN)
    National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
    Never Again Coalition
    New School for Democracy
    No Business With Genocide
    Nonviolence International
    Odhikar
    Olof Palme International Center
    OutRight Action International
    PAX
    Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand
    Pax Christi Australia
    Pax Christi International
    Pax Christi Korea
    Pax Christi Philippines
    People’s Empowerment Foundation
    People’s Watch
    Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
    Progressive Voice
    Prosecute; don’t perpetrate
    Public Association “Dignity”
    Pusat KOMAS
    Refugees International
    Restless Beings
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    Rohingya Association of Canada
    Rohingya Human Rights Initiative
    Rohingya Today
    Rohingya Women Education Initiative
    Rohingya Youth for Legal Action 
    Smile Foundation
    Swedish Burma Committee
    Taiwan Association for Human Rights
    Taiwan Forever Association (台灣永社)
    Tampadipa Institute
    The Arakan Project
    The May 18 Memorial Foundation
    The PLAN: Public Legal Aid Network
    The Swedish Rohingya Association 
    Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
    US Campaign for Burma
    Viet Tan
    Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
    Voice of Rohingya 
    Win Without War
    World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
    YMCA Mandalay
    Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)


    Civic space in Myanmar is rated "Repressed" by the CIVCICUS Monitor

     

     

  • Joint call for Human Rights Council Special Session on Myanmar

    Joint statement by human rights organisations calling UN Human Rights Council to convene a Special Session on Myanmar.

    We, the undersigned human rights organisations, are deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Myanmar after the military seized power and immediately cracked down on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to take immediate action.

     

  • Joint statement on critical topics from 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Our organisations welcome the adoption of the resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in reaffirming that all approaches to development must comply with the State’s international human rights obligations.

    We agree that “cooperation and dialogue” are important for the promotion and protection of human rights, and that States should fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms, and ensure that all stakeholders are able to cooperate and engage with them without fear of reprisals. 

    However, we must now be vigilant to ensure that the resolution on Mutually Beneficial Cooperation, lacking in balance, does not undermine other important parts of the Council’s mandate: to address human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies in specific countries. 

    The Council has failed to take meaningful action to address the alarming situation on the ground in Cambodia. We welcome and echo the joint statement on Cambodia by over 40 states calling for further action if the situation does not improve in the lead up to the elections and for a briefing by the High Commissioner before the next Council session. We are concerned by Cambodia’s attempt to shut down criticism under item 10 debate on the worsening human rights situation in the country, as they are doing domestically.

    We are disappointed by the weak outcome on Libya. Given the gravity of the human rights situation on the ground and the lack of accountability for crimes under international law, the Council cannot justify the lack of a dedicated monitoring and reporting mechanism. 

    We welcome the co-sponsorship of the Myanmar resolution by groups of States from all regions, making a joint commitment to address the continuing human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the country and support for the Special Rapporteur and Fact-Finding Mission to fulfil its mandate to establish truth and ensure accountability for perpetrators. 

    We also welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan allowing it to continue its vital investigations and identification of perpetrators. These developments acknowledge the importance of accountability for serious human rights violations and crimes under international law, which cannot be understated.

    We welcome the adoption of the resolution on drugs and human rights as the OHCHR report will provide human rights indicators related to the drug issue that would help in future policies.

    We welcome the resolution on Eastern Ghouta adopted after an urgent debate, demonstrating how this Council can respond in an agile manner to crises.

    Having long supported the resolution on “protection of human rights while countering terrorism", we appreciate the efforts that led to the end of the separate and deeply flawed initiative on "effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights". Future versions of the resolution must address the relevant issues exclusively and comprehensively from the perspective of the effective protection of human rights. 

    We welcome the Dutch-led joint statement on strengthening the Council, emphasising the importance of substantive civil society participation in any initiative or process and that the Council must be accessible, effective and protective for human rights defenders and rights holders on the ground.

    Finally, we call on the Bureau co-facilitators on improving the efficiency and strengthening the Council to closely engage with all Members and Observers of the Council, human rights defenders and civil society organisations not based in Geneva. 

    Delivered by: The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders), The Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, CIVICUS, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Human Rights House Foundation, Amnesty International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Human Rights Watch, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

     

  • Le Royaume-Uni répond aux questions posées par les membres de CIVICUS sur le Conseil de sécurité

    Durant les consultations du mois d’août de la présidence du Conseil de sécurité avec la société civile, la Mission permanente du Royaume-Uni auprès de l’Organisation des Nations Unies a répondu aux questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS concernant les situations sécuritaires en République Démocratique du Congo, Érythrée-Éthiopie, Gaza et Myanmar.


    La société civile joue un rôle important dans l’agenda du Conseil de sécurité et CIVICUS remercie le Royaume-Uni et tous les membres du Conseil de sécurité pour leur engagement à impliquer la société civile dans son fonctionnement.

    Le Conseil de sécurité suit de près la situation en RDC. Dans le cadre de la résolution 2409, nous avons demandé au Secrétaire général de nous faire transmettre des rapports mensuels. Le conseil tient des discussions fréquentes sur la RDC. Le Conseil de sécurité continue de souligner à quel point il est important que les élections du 23 décembre 2018 soient tenues dans le calme, de façon crédible, inclusive et dans les temps et qu’elles respectent le calendrier électoral, menant à un transfert pacifique du pouvoir, en accord avec la constitution congolaise. Le Conseil de sécurité continue aussi d’accentuer l’importance de la protection des civils, y compris à travers le mandat de la MONUSCO qui fait de la protection des civils une priorité stratégique. Durant la présidence du Royaume-Uni, un briefing s’est tenu au Conseil de sécurité sur les élections à venir en RDC. La déclaration de l’ambassadeur se trouve ici.

    Le Conseil de sécurité a publié un communiqué concernant la signature de la déclaration conjointe de paix et d’amitié entre l’Érythrée et l’Éthiopie du 9 Juillet 2018.

    L’UNRWA (l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient) a été établi et reçoit son mandat de l‘assemblée générale de l’ONU. La possibilité qu’elle doive suspendre ses services à cause de sa mauvaise situation financière préoccupe énormément les membres du Conseil de sécurité, comme cela a été exprimé durant les consultations du conseil du 22 août sur la situation au Moyen-Orient. Le Royaume-Uni reste fortement engagé dans son soutien à l’UNRWA et aux réfugiés palestiniens à travers le Moyen-Orient. Face à des pressions financières de plus en plus fortes, le Royaume-Uni a versé environ 60 millions de dollars en 2018. Nous continuons d’encourager d’autres à verser des financements additionnels et à effectuer des versements réguliers pour assurer que l’UNRWA puisse continuer son travail essentiel.
     
    Le Conseil de sécurité suit avec beaucoup de préoccupation la situation à Gaza, y compris à travers des briefings réguliers, comme par exemple celui du 22 août par la Secrétaire générale adjointe Rosemary DiCarlo.

    Sur le long-terme, le Royaume-Uni a pour but ultime le retour sans danger, volontaire et avec dignité du million de réfugiés Rohingyas, actuellement au Bangladesh, vers l’Etat Rakhine sous la surveillance internationale. Nous estimons que les conditions actuelles ne sont pas suffisantes pour que les réfugiés y retournent. Nous soutiendrons la Birmanie pour y arriver, mais une amélioration concrète des conditions sur le terrain est nécessaire. Dans l’immédiat, la Birmanie devrait donner à l’ONU un accès sans restriction à l’Etat du Nord-Rakhine. L’ONU s’est réjouie de la déclaration du gouvernement birman annonçant la mise en place d’une commission d’enquête sur les violences commises dans l’Etat Rakhine. Il est à présent essentiel que le gouvernement birman démontre comment l’enquête sera crédible, transparente et impartiale. Nous sommes toujours en attente d’une décision de la CPI concernant sa compétence à juger des déportations des Rohingyas au Bangladesh (qui est un état signataire du statut de Rome).

    D’autres questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS ce mois concernent les libertés civiques en Colombie, le retrait des troupes de l’UNAMID au Darfur, l’insécurité alimentaire au Sahel, la relocalisation de l’Ambassade des États-Unis d’Amérique à Jérusalem, la détérioration de l’espace civique en Ouganda, le cas du dirigeant Soudanais, Omar Al Bashir auprès de la Cour Pénale Internationale et la menace globale du cyber crime.

    Ces questions-réponses résultent d’un appel mensuel auprès des membres CIVICUS de soumettre leurs questions au président du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies. Il s’agit d’une opportunité pour nos membres d’être reliés à un forum international important où des décisions sont prises. Les employés de CIVICUS posent les questions au nom de nos membres durant le briefing du président tous les mois. Tenez-vous informé en devenant membre de CIVICUS.

     

  • Letter from Jail: Members of poetry troupe in Myanmar

    Letter from Zeyar Lwin and Paing Ye Thu members of the Peacock Generation in Myanmar

    Seven members of the Peacock Generation—Kay Khine Tun, Zayar Lwin, Paing Pyo Min, Paing Ye Thu, Zaw Lin Htut, Su Yadanar Myint and Nyein Chan Soe —were arrested in April and May 2019 after they performed Thangyat, a traditional performance art akin to slam poetry during the Thingyan Water Festival in April. On 30 October 2019, five of them were convicted under Section 505 (a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code at Mayangon Township Court in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and sentenced to one year in prison. Section 505 (a) of the Penal Code prohibits the circulation of statements and reports with the intent to cause officers or soldiers in the Myanmar Armed Forces to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in their duties

    For livestreaming performances on Facebook, Zay Yar Lwin, Paing Phyo Min, Paing Ye Thu, Su Yadanar Myint and Nyein Chan Soe also face charges under Section 66 (d) of the Telecommunication Act for “online defamation”. 

    Members of the Peacock Generation are facing the same charges in five other townships in Yangon and Ayerwaddy Region where they have performed Thangyat and face a possible 19 years imprisonment. Below is their letter from jail: 

    We are writing to you from the cells of Insein Prison, the notorious and largest prison in Myanmar. The seven of us were sued by the military and arrested after we performed the Thangyat, a traditional performance criticising the military.  We were convicted and sentenced to one year in prison by one court out of six and facing possible 19 years imprisonment. 

    We knew we could face risks and the military had noticed our group for a year and were preparing to take action against us. So instead of just avoiding it, we decided to be more critical in our lyrics when we performed, and action was taken against us. Our senior activists had also been critical of the military and now its our time to do so.

    When we heard of the charges, we went to the police station to allow them to detain us. We are also experienced with jails. First the military sued us in Mayangone and Botahtaung Townships, and later military in Pathein, Dedaye, Pyapon, Maupin townships from Ayeyarwaddy Regions also sued us under 505(a) and 66(d). When they sue us, it was not just one time. They sued us at different times and intentionally delayed the verdict process. Those court processes in Ayeyarwaddy Region have not yet begun. That means they want to lock up us for a long time. It’s already been 6 months and only one verdict is out. And only two courts hearings are done.

    We believe its not fair as even before the court decided on our innocence, we were already  in jail as criminals. Mentally it is hurting for those who are locked up in jail. We are trying to pass the days because we have strong beliefs, but it is difficult for others to be in jail.

    They have convicted us with no strong evidence. This is not a fair case. Because it is a case against the military, whatever we do, we will definitely be sentenced. Because in my country, nobody is treated fairly and equally by the law when the case is against military. We believe we didn’t commit a crime by performing Thangyat. This is the case of criticizing and resisting an oppressive institution – the military. We will never be silenced just because they jailed us or sentenced us this way. 

    We will keep criticizing and pointing out the flawed system in different ways because it is important for us to amend the constitution and to get the military out of politics so that we can pursue genuine democracy in Myanmar.  

    Thankfully we have people supporting us mentally and physically. They are all our colleagues, students, friends and families. Because of those support, we can stand these days. Lawyers support us legally.

    When we talk about freedom of expression, there very little space and we still have to work a lot to have that freedom. We understand that our rights shouldn’t harm others. We admit we strongly criticized the military, but why we were criticizing them strongly was because military leaders and their institution have obtained power unfairly and are harming our own people. Freedom of expression in Myanmar is like a tortoise trying to get carried by a flying stick held by two crows on both ends. We can talk about freedom of expression, but if we really express ourselves, we can get jailed. That’s the current situation. 

    To all the international organizations and institutions that want to help “democracy” in Myanmar, do whatever you can to help us please. The important thing is to influence the military. Only by influencing them, we can help them move in the right direction or else, things will get worse in future. Please speak up more for the situation in Myanmar. 

    Instead of asking you to specifically to help our case, we want to ask if you help democracy and politics in Myanmar, and when it is improved, we will be part of the journey too. There are many others who are currently  jailed in Myanmar. Thank you for your support and solidarity near and far and for helping change our country.

     

    Zeyar Lwin and Paing Ye Thu members of the Peacock Generation in Myanmar

    Translated by Thinzar Shunlei Yi a Youth Advocate and Activist from Myanmar

     

  • MYANMAR : « Les militaires ont fait passer les travailleurs de la santé du statut de héros à celui de criminel du jour au lendemain »

    Nay Lin Tun MayCIVICUS s’entretient avec Nay Lin Tun, un médecin qui se porte régulièrement volontaire auprès des équipes de secours dans les zones d’urgence de la ville de Yangon au Myanmar. Depuis que l’armée a pris le pouvoir par un coup d’État le 1er février 2021, elle a lancé unerépression brutale contre le Mouvement de désobéissance civile (MDC), un mouvement de protestation qui s’est étendu à tout le pays et au sein duquel lesprofessionnels de la santé ont joué un rôle clé.

    Depuis le coup d’État, Nay Lin Tun est en première ligne pour soigner les manifestants blessés par les forces de sécurité. Il a précédemment travaillé dans l’État de Rakhine, où il fournissait des soins de santé communautaires mobiles à la population Rohingya et à d’autres personnes déplacées à l’intérieur du pays dans les zones touchées par le conflit. Il a également participé à la campagneGoalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator, qui vise à accélérer les progrès vers les objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies.

     

  • MYANMAR : « Les partis d'opposition se plaignent que le corps électoral censure leur discours »

    Cape DiamondCIVICUS s'entretient avec le journaliste lauréat Cape Diamond (Pyae Sone Win) au sujet des prochaines élections au Myanmar. Cape est un journaliste multimédia basé au Myanmar qui s’intéresse au domaine des droits humains, des crises et des conflits. Il travaille actuellement de manière indépendante pour l'Associated Press (AP). Il a assuré une couverture critique de la crise des réfugiés rohingyas et a travaillé avec de nombreux médias internationaux, dont Al Jazeera, ABC News et CBS. Il a également contribué au documentaire lauréat du BAFTA,Myanmar’s Killing Fields, et au filmThe Rohingya Exodus, médaillé d'or au Festival du film de New York.

    Prévues pour le 8 novembre 2020, ces élections seront les premières depuis 2015, date à laquelle elles ont abouti à une victoire écrasante de la Ligue nationale pour la démocratie (LND), et ne seront que les deuxièmes élections compétitives depuis 1990, date à laquelle la victoire écrasante de la LND a été annulée par l’armée.

    Quel est l'état des libertés civiles et de la société civile à l'approche des élections ?

    La situation de la liberté d'expression est très préoccupante. Au fil des années, des journalistes et des militants des droits de l'homme au Myanmar ont fait l'objet d'accusations pénales en raison de leur travail. Des lois restrictives, telles que la loi sur les télécommunications, la loi sur les associations illicites, la loi sur les secrets officiels et les dispositions du code pénal relatives à la diffamation, continuent d'être utilisées pour poursuivre les militants et les journalistes. La loi sur les défilés et rassemblements pacifiques a également été utilisée contre les manifestants.

    De nombreux partis politiques se sont plaints du fait que la Commission électorale de l'Union (CEU), l'organe électoral, a censuré des messages devant être diffusés à la télévision nationale avant les élections. Par exemple, Ko Ko Gyi, président du parti populaire, a déclaré que les changements apportés par la CEU dans son discours de campagne l'empêchaient d'exprimer pleinement la position politique de son parti sur les élections. Deux partis, le Parti démocratique pour une nouvelle société et la Force démocratique nationale, ont annulé leurs émissions électorales pour protester contre la censure.

    En même temps, les adversaires disent que le corps électoral est biaisé en faveur du parti au pouvoir, la LND, dirigé par Aung San Suu Kyi. C'est une question à laquelle nous devons être attentifs et dont nous devons parler afin de garantir des élections crédibles.

    Le corps électoral s’est-il rapproché de la société civile ?

    J'ai entendu dire que l'actuel CEU n'a pas cherché activement à établir un lien avec la société civile. Le CEU a d'abord interdit à l'Alliance du peuple pour des élections crédibles (APEC), l'un des plus grands groupes de surveillance des élections du pays, de surveiller les élections. La CEU a accusé l'APEC de ne pas être enregistrée en vertu de la loi régissant les organisations de la société civile et de recevoir des fonds de sources internationales. Bien que la CEU l'ait finalement autorisée à fonctionner, l'organisation éprouve des difficultés à le faire en raison des restrictions récemment imposées à cause de la COVID-19.

    Quelles sont les principales questions autour desquelles la campagne s'articulera ?

    La pandémie de la COVID-19 et la guerre civile en cours dans le pays sont nos principaux problèmes pour le moment. Il est très clair que le parti au pouvoir et le gouvernement ne prêtent pas suffisamment attention à la situation des minorités dans les régions qui souffrent de la guerre civile.

    Il est inquiétant que le pays traverse une pandémie, dont je pense qu'il n'a pas la capacité suffisante pour y faire face. Au 29 septembre 2020, nous avons eu un total de 11 000 cas signalés et 284 décès dus à la COVID-19. L'augmentation des infections au cours des dernières semaines est inquiétante, puisque nous n'avions eu qu'environ 400 cas confirmés en août. Je crains que la situation ne permette aux gens d'aller voter aux élections en toute sécurité.

    Plus de 20 partis politiques ont envoyé des demandes au corps électoral pour reporter les élections en raison de la pandémie, mais celles-ci ont été rejetées. Le parti au pouvoir n'est pas prêt à reporter les élections.

    Est-il possible de développer une campagne « normale » dans ce contexte ?

    Je ne pense pas qu'il soit possible d'avoir des rassemblements de campagne normaux comme ceux des dernières élections, celles de 2015, car nous sommes en pleine pandémie. Le gouvernement a pris plusieurs mesures pour lutter contre la propagation de la maladie, notamment l'interdiction de se réunir. Les partis politiques ne peuvent pas faire campagne dans des zones qui sont en situation de semi-confinement.

    Les grandes villes, telles que Yangon et sa région métropolitaine, ainsi que certaines municipalités de Mandalay, sont en semi-confinement, dans le cadre d'un programme que le gouvernement a appelé « Restez à la maison ». Au même temps, l'ensemble de l'État de Rakhine, qui connaît une guerre civile, est également en semi-confinement. J'ai bien peur que les habitants de la zone de guerre civile ne puissent pas aller voter.

    Pour s'adresser à leur public, les candidats utilisent à la fois les réseaux sociaux et les médias traditionnels. Toutefois, comme je l'ai déjà souligné, certains partis de l'opposition ont été censurés par la CSU. Certains membres de l'opposition ont dénoncé le traitement inéquitable de la CEU et du gouvernement, tandis que le parti au pouvoir utilise son pouvoir pour accroître sa popularité. Cela va clairement nuire aux chances électorales de l'opposition.

    Quels sont les défis spécifiques auxquels sont confrontés les candidats dans l'État de Rakhine ?

    Étant donné que tout l'État de Rakhine est soumis à des restrictions en raison de la COVID-19, les candidats ne peuvent pas faire campagne personnellement. C'est pourquoi ils font généralement campagne sur les réseaux sociaux. En même temps, dans de nombreuses municipalités de l'État de Rakhine, une coupure du service Internet a été imposée de façon prolongée en raison des combats continus entre l'armée arakanienne et les forces militaires. Je crains que les gens là-bas ne puissent pas obtenir suffisamment d'informations sur les élections.

    Le gouvernement du Myanmar utilise également la loi discriminatoire de 1982 sur la citoyenneté et la loi électorale pour priver les Rohingyas de leurs droits et les empêcher de se présenter aux élections. Les autorités électorales ont empêché le leader du Parti de la démocratie et des droits humains (PDDH) dirigé par les Rohingyas, Kyaw Min, de se présenter aux élections. Kyaw Min a été disqualifié avec deux autres candidats du PDDH parce que ses parents n'auraient pas été citoyens, comme l'exige la loi électorale. C'est l'un des nombreux outils utilisés pour opprimer le peuple Rohingya.

    En octobre, la CEU a lancé une application pour smartphone qui a été critiquée pour l'utilisation d'un label dérogatoire en référence aux musulmans rohingyas. L'application mVoter2020, qui vise à sensibiliser les électeurs, désigne au moins deux candidats de l'ethnie rohingya comme des « Bengalis », ce qui laisse entendre qu'ils sont des immigrants du Bangladesh, même si la plupart des Rohingyas vivent au Myanmar depuis des générations. Ce label est rejeté par de nombreux Rohingyas. De plus, aucun des plus d'un million de réfugiés Rohingyas au Bangladesh, ni des centaines de milliers de personnes dispersées dans d'autres pays, ne pourra voter.

    L'espace civique au Myanmar est décrit comme « répressif » par leCIVICUS Monitor.
    Suivez@cape_diamond sur Twitter.

     

  • MYANMAR : « Presque toutes les personnes détenues nous disent qu’elles ont été battues »

    CIVICUS s’entretient avec Manny Maung, chercheuse au Myanmar pour Human Rights Watch (HRW), sur la situation des droits humains au Myanmar. Manny était auparavant journaliste et a passé de nombreuses années à vivre et à travailler au Myanmar.

    Le Myanmar reste sur la liste de surveillance du CIVICUS Monitor, qui comprend les pays ayant connu un déclin récent et rapide de leurs libertés civiques. Les militaires du Myanmar ont pris le pouvoir par un coup d’État le 1er février 2021, ont arrêté les dirigeants civils du gouvernement national et des États et ont lancé une répression brutale contre le mouvement de protestation dans tout le pays. Plus de six mois après, l’assaut contre l’espace civique persiste. Des milliers de personnes ont été arrêtées et détenues de manière arbitraire. Nombre d’entre eux font l’objet d’accusations infondées et des cas de torture et de mauvais traitements pendant les interrogatoires ont été signalés, ainsi que des décès en détention.

    Manny Maung

    Quelle est la situation des libertés civiques au Myanmar plus de cinq mois après le coup d’État ?

    Depuis le coup d’État militaire du 1er février, nous avons assisté à une détérioration rapide de la situation. Des milliers de personnes ont été détenues arbitrairement et des centaines ont été tuées, tandis que de nombreuses autres se cachent et tentent d’échapper à l’arrestation. HRW a déterminé que les militaires ont commis des abus qui équivalent à des crimes contre l’humanité à l’encontre de la population. Il est donc évident que la situation est extrêmement dangereuse pour la société civile, les libertés civiques étant devenues inexistantes.

    Le mouvement de désobéissance civile (MDC) est-il toujours actif malgré la répression ?

    Des manifestations ont encore lieu quotidiennement, bien qu’elles soient moins nombreuses et plus ponctuelles. Des grèves éclair éclatent dans tout le Myanmar, et pas seulement dans les grandes villes. Mais ces manifestations sont désormais légèrement atténuées, non seulement en raison des violentes répressions des forces de sécurité, mais aussi à cause de la troisième vague dévastatrice d’infections au COVID-19. Des centaines de mandats d’arrêt ont été émis à l’encontre des meneurs des manifestations, y compris à l’encontre de près de 600 médecins qui ont participé à la MDC ou l’ont dirigée auparavant. Les journalistes, les avocats et les leaders de la société civile ont tous été pris pour cible, de même que toute personne considérée comme un leader de la manifestation ou de la grève. Dans certains cas, si les autorités ne trouvent pas la personne qu’elles veulent arrêter, elles arrêtent les membres de sa famille en guise de punition collective.

    Quelle est la situation des manifestants qui ont été arrêtés et détenus ?

    Presque toutes les personnes avec lesquelles nous nous sommes entretenus et qui ont été détenues ou raflées lors des vastes opérations de répression des manifestations nous ont dit avoir été battues lors de leur arrestation ou de leur détention dans des centres d’interrogatoire militaires. Un adolescent m’a raconté qu’il avait été frappé si fort avec la crosse d’un fusil qu’il s’était évanoui entre les coups. Il a également raconté qu’on l’a forcé à entrer dans une fosse et qu’on l’a enterré jusqu’au cou alors qu’il avait les yeux bandés, tout cela parce que les autorités le soupçonnaient d’être un leader protestataire. D’autres personnes ont décrit des passages à tabac violents alors qu’elles étaient menottées à une chaise, qu’elles étaient privées de nourriture et d’eau, qu’elles ne dormaient pas et qu’elles subissaient des violences sexuelles ou des menaces de viol.

    De nombreux manifestants qui sont toujours détenus n’ont pas eu de procès sérieux. Certains ont été inculpés et condamnés, mais il s’agit d’un petit nombre comparé aux milliers de personnes qui attendent que leur dossier avance. De nombreux détenus qui ont été libérés depuis nous disent qu’ils ont eu très peu de contacts, voire aucun, avec leurs avocats. Mais les avocats qui les représentent courent également des risques. Au moins six avocats défendant des prisonniers politiques ont été arrêtés, dont trois alors qu’ils représentaient un client dans le cadre d’un procès.

    Comment l’interruption des services d’Internet et de télévision a-t-elle affecté le MDP ?

    L’interdiction de la télévision par satellite est venue s’ajouter aux restrictions de l’accès à l’information. La junte a affirmé que des « organisations illégales et des organes de presse » diffusaient des programmes par satellite qui menaçaient la sécurité de l’État. Mais les interdictions semblent viser principalement les chaînes d’information étrangères qui diffusent par satellite au Myanmar, y compris deux diffuseurs indépendants en langue birmane, Democratic Voice of Burma et Mizzima, qui se sont vu retirer leur licence par la junte en mars. Les coupures d’accès à Internet ont également rendu difficile l’accès à l’information et la communication en temps réel entre les personnes.

    Les coupures générales de l’accès à Internet sont une forme de punition collective. Elles entravent l’accès aux informations et aux communications nécessaires à la vie quotidienne, mais surtout en cas de crise et de pandémie de COVID-19. Ces restrictions servent également de couverture aux violations des droits humains et compliquent les efforts visant à documenter ces violations.

    Pourquoi la violence dans les zones ethniques a-t-elle augmenté, et qui est visé ?

    Le coup d’État a entraîné une reprise des combats dans certaines régions du pays entre les groupes armés ethniques et l’armée. L’État de Rakhine semble être l’exception, car l’armée d’Arakan y a négocié un cessez-le-feu et les manifestations contre l’armée n’ont pas été aussi bruyantes ou répandues. D’autres groupes armés ethniques, tels que l’Armée de l’indépendance kachin et l’Armée de libération nationale karen (ALNK), ont accueilli favorablement la résistance aux militaires et offrent un refuge aux personnes fuyant les militaires dans les territoires qu’ils contrôlent. De nouveaux affrontements entre l’armée et l’ALNK ont donné lieu à un certain nombre de violations des droits humains à l’encontre de civils et ont entraîné le déplacement de milliers de personnes à la frontière entre la Thaïlande et le Myanmar.

    Que pensez-vous de la réaction de l’Association des nations de l’Asie du Sud-Est (ANASE) à la situation au Myanmar jusqu’à présent ?

    L’ANASE a tenté de suivre les voies diplomatiques, mais il ne s’agit pas d’une situation où les choses se passent comme d’habitude. Les militaires ont pris le pouvoir et ont commis des crimes contre leur propre peuple - une population civile qui a déjà voté pour le gouvernement qu’elle préfère. Après des mois de négociations futiles, l’ANASE devrait être prête à imposer des sanctions au Myanmar. En tant que nations indépendantes, les États membres de l’ANASE devraient agir ensemble et imposer des sanctions ciblées au Myanmar afin de s’assurer que les militaires n’agissent plus en toute impunité.

    La réaction du général Min Aung Hlaing, qui s’est autoproclamé Premier ministre, au plan consensuel en cinq points proposé par l’ANASE témoigne de son mépris total pour la diplomatie régionale et montre clairement qu’il ne répondra qu’à des actes durs - tels que la coupure de son accès et de celui de l’armée aux revenus étrangers par des sanctions intelligentes.

    Que peut faire la communauté internationale pour soutenir la société civile et favoriser le retour à un régime démocratique ?

    HRW recommande au Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies (CSNU) de saisir la Cour pénale internationale concernant la situation au Myanmar. Le CSNU et les pays influents tels que les États-Unis, le Royaume-Uni, l’Australie, le Japon, l’Inde, la Thaïlande et l’Union européenne devraient appliquer des sanctions coordonnées pour faire pression sur la junte. Le CSNU devrait également adopter une résolution visant à interdire la vente d’armes au Myanmar.

    Quant aux organisations internationales de la société civile, elles doivent continuer à plaider en faveur des membres de la société civile qui se cachent actuellement ou qui sont détenus de manière arbitraire. Cela signifie qu’elles doivent continuer à faire pression pour que soit reconnue la gravité de la crise politique et humanitaire au Myanmar, et pour que les gouvernements agissent en faveur de la population du Myanmar.

    L’espace civique au Myanmar est classé « réprimé » par le CIVICUS Monitor.

    Suivez @mannymaung sur Twitter.

     

  • MYANMAR : « Si le coup d’État n’est pas renversé, il y aura beaucoup plus de prisonniers politiques »

    CIVICUS parle du récent coup d’État militaire au Myanmar avec Bo Kyi, ancien prisonnier politique et co-fondateur de l’Association d’assistance aux prisonniers politiques (AAPP). Fondée en 2000 par d’anciens prisonniers politiques vivant en exil à la frontière entre la Thaïlande et le Myanmar, l’AAPP est basée à Mae Sot, en Thaïlande, et possède deux bureaux au Myanmar, ouverts depuis 2012. L’AAPP travaille pour la libération des prisonniers politiques et l’amélioration de leur vie après leur libération, avec des programmes visant à leur garantir l’accès à l’éducation, à la formation professionnelle, aux conseils en matière de santé mentale et aux soins de santé.

     

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