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Written updates of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar (A/HRC/48/67) (Advance Unedited Version)

September 16th, 2021  •  Author:   United Nations Human Rights Council  •  4 minute read
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Human Rights Council
Forty-eighth session
13 September–1 October 2021
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

**I. Introduction and methodology **

  1. In resolution 46/21, the Human Rights Council requested, inter alia, the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide oral and written reports on the overall human rights situation in Myanmar, with a particular focus on accountability regarding alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as rule of law and security sector reform since 1 February 2021.
  2. This update covers human rights concerns that my Office has documented since the seizure of power by the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) on 1 February 2021 until mid-July 2021. Developments during this period are presented chronologically to illustrate trends and patterns of human rights violations. Supplementary material elaborating aspects of this report is available via a conference room paper. Findings will be further elaborated in a comprehensive report mandated by resolution 46/21 that is to be presented at the forty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council.
  3. OHCHR currently does not have a presence in or access to Myanmar, despite a commitment made by the Government in 2012 to allow OHCHR to open a country office and repeated calls by the Human Rights Council and General Assembly. This has impeded independent in-country monitoring and reporting of the human rights situation, which has become further restricted since the military coup due to Internet restrictions (see Section IV), access and resource constraints, and threats of reprisals against human rights defenders.
  4. Despite these challenges, OHCHR has relied on remote monitoring, and use of credible open sources, supplemented where possible by interviews conducted with individuals to obtain first-hand information on specific events. Notwithstanding challenges and risks, OHCHR conducted over 70 interviews with victims and witnesses to human rights violations and has held scores of meetings to collect information from a range of stakeholders. Information and sources have been assessed for credibility, with every effort undertaken to corroborate or verify information to the maximum extent possible.

II. Context

**5. For decades, the Tatmadaw has committed gross human rights violations with impunity, including alleged **international crimes against ethnic minorities that have been extensively documented for the Human Rights Council. Detailed recommendations have been made on accountability and security sector reform, but have not been implemented.1 Following the February coup, the Tatmadaw has systematically unleashed a new level of violence and repression across the country against the people of Myanmar.2 6. On 1 February 2021, alleging electoral fraud in the November 2020 elections, Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing removed the civilian Government, detained Myanmar’s political leadership and declared a state of emergency, vesting all legislative, judicial and executive power in himself. Myanmar’s people met the coup with near universal rejection and launched a broad-based, sustained and peaceful civil disobedience and protest movement across the country. In succeeding months, a human rights crisis ensued, with a steady escalation of attacks against the civilian population as the Tatmadaw sought to suppress opposition and consolidate power. Military authorities abused the legal framework to stifle free expression, enable arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and strip away due process and fair trial rights as they detained thousands, particularly activists, journalists, and human rights defenders. When nationwide peaceful protests began, military authorities initially used less-lethal weapons in an unnecessary and disproportionate manner and conducted neighbourhood raids, creating an atmosphere of terror. This evolved into systematic targeted killings and mass arrests, with torture and ill-treatment causing additional deaths in custody. Progressively, armed resistance emerged, as people formed self-defence groups or started to organize to conduct attacks against the military. Simultaneously, armed conflict in Myanmar’s border areas has continued and resurged. In both contexts, the Tatmadaw has conducted both targeted and indiscriminate attacks against civilians. Combined with a freefalling economy and worsening COVID-19 pandemic, the situation in Myanmar has become a human rights catastrophe.3

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