Myanmar: Government Continues to Use an Array of Laws to Silence Its Critics
Statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council during Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar
We thank the Special Rapporteur for her final report on Myanmar (see all reports), and the outstanding work the mandate has carried out despite the lack of access granted to the country.
As highlighted in the report, Myanmar has undergone appalling developments in its human rights framework since the Special Rapporteur began her term – from the elections in 2015 which saw a groundswell of hope for positive change, to the horrors of genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.
But curtailment of fundamental freedoms and total crackdown on any criticism of authorities has remained grimly consistent. Using an array of restrictive laws, the government has sought to systematically silence dissent. Members of the Peacock Generation poetry troupe face charges in township after township for their satirical criticism of the military, and remain in jail. The internet shutdown in Rakhine state remains in place. Rohingya campaigners outside the country face threats while protesters continue to be arbitrarily arrested and convicted.
Filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been released, but the chilling effect caused by their imprisonment, for undermining the military and reporting on military atrocities respectively, remains.
The ICJ ruling in January 2020 brought the possibility of accountability for grave human rights abuses one small step closer. Now the Security Council and the wider international community must uphold their obligations to ensure those responsible are brought to trial. And accountability will never be achieved if those who speak out, now, continue to be arrested and imprisoned.
Those on the ground, the human rights defenders and activists who are trying to achieve change, need international support. It is imperative that this crucial mandate is renewed and we ask the Special Rapporteur, as she reaches the end of her mandate, what more this Council can and should be doing to support those in Myanmar brave enough to speak out?