Myanmar: A return to military dictatorship must be prevented

Special session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar

CIVICUS thanks the UK and EU for your leadership in calling for this Special Session. The situation in Myanmar for our partners and members is grave, critical and moving fast; the risk of increasingly severe violations to fundamental freedoms and a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation cannot be overstated. We welcome that the Council, led by the UK and the EU, is willing and able to respond to this emergency with speed. 

The people of Myanmar have spoken, and continue to speak out, at grave personal risk. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has already raised deep fears of a violent crackdown on dissenting voices. We see the beginning of this crackdown already. Activists have been detained; peaceful protesters suppressed with excessive force. Journalists have been threatened. Internet was briefly shut down, plunging the country into a communication blackout and there are plans to introduce new restrictive cyber laws. 

The warning signs are ominous: Myanmar risks returning to the days of mass incarceration of human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists, violent crackdowns on mass protests, and isolation both inside and outside.  

Steps taken towards democracy, however tentative and fragile and imperfect, must be protected and a return to military dictatorship prevented.  

The most valuable role for the Human Rights Council at this critical point would be to put into place measures of enhanced monitoring and reporting which protects those on the ground subject to human rights violations, contributes to further action if necessary, and forwards accountability for such violations. It is essential that a strong resolution is adopted by the Council to achieve this. 

The opportunity for the Council to take strong action to this end is right in front of it. 

Civic space in the Myanmar is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor