Myanmar: Continued Crackdown on Civil Society Undermines Efforts to Address COVID-19

Statement at the 44th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar

CIVICUS welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s update, and looks forward to our future engagement.

This is a critical time in Myanmar, where a crackdown on expression, peaceful assembly and access to information is a barrier to accountability and undermines the country’s efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals have criminalised for speaking out, reporting or protesting again human rights violations.

Members of the Peacock Generation, a slam poetry troupe, who were convicted under the Telecommunications Act and Section 505(a) of the Penal Code remain in prison for their satirical criticism of the government. The Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law has been used against those protesting the internet blackout in Rakhine and Chin states. These laws, and countless others, make up the repressive legal framework used against independent journalists and human rights defenders who speak out on crimes perpetrated by the government.

The report of the IIMM presented during the 42nd Session of this council said that Myanmar’s future depends on the clear demonstration that its international crimes will not be tolerated. It also depends on those in Myanmar who speak out on violations and advocate for positive change being listened to, rather than persecuted. We call on the Myanmar government to do so, and on the international community to stand by these activists.

We ask the Special Rapporteur: what are your priorities for your time in this mandate, and how do you see the role of an open civic space in achieving accountability? Finally, how can civil society support you in your work?

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