International Human Rights Day

December 17th, 2021  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  10 minute read
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“Let the next international human rights day be one in which the people of Myanmar see the victory of Spring Revolution and the full realization of human rights in a new federal democratic Myanmar.”

The passing of International Human Rights Day on 10 December, 2021, only saw the worsening of the human rights situation, giving the people of Myanmar no reprieve from the ongoing horrific violence committed by the military junta. The façade of democracy collapsed in the wake of the attempted coup d’etat and led to ferocious conflict, humanitarian crisis and COVID-19 catastrophe caused by the junta which has left the people of Myanmar with deep scars. Yet, the Spring Revolution has endured this onslaught and persists after over 10 months since the attempted coup, through silent strikes and other ingenious forms of political defiance.

Over the past few weeks, the junta has been intensifying indiscriminate attacks on civilians and ruthlessly killing people at will. They sadistically killed 11 people, burning them alive in Don Taw, Sagaing Region including four youth, one as young as 14 years old. On 7 December, the military junta went through Mandalay’s Chanmyathazi Township, indiscriminately shooting at civilians, murdering a five-year-old girl. This was the same township where six-year-old girl, Khin Myo Chit, was shot dead by military personnel in her father’s lap in their home in March. The number of children killed by the military junta since the attempted coup is at least 100. While the UN Secretary General expressed his deep concern and strong condemnations in response to the Don Taw Massacre, it falls well short of the action that is urgently needed to save the people on the ground. As these atrocities are mounting, continuous pressure and increasing actions are needed – not the same statements that expect different outcomes.

On 10 December, silent strikes took place nationwide in a mass display of unity in complete defiance against the military junta. This mass silence campaign urged the people of Myanmar to stay home and refuse to go to work. Photos and videos flooded social media of scenes of deserted streets, malls, shops and markets nationwide. Military junta forces were traveling around threatening shopkeepers to open or face fines or prison, but the people refused, at great risk to their personal safety. This strike came after renewed fury among the public in the aftermath of the Don Taw Massacre and after junta personnel killed five people and injured eight people by ramming a military vehicle into a crowd of peaceful protesters in Yangon on 5 December.

The people of Myanmar have forged a strong, decentralized and grassroots revolution against the tyrannical military junta, unifying people of diverse backgrounds, including religious, ethnic, women and LGBTQI groups, striving for a genuine federal democracy that realizes human rights, justice and equality. The international community must listen to the voices of the people of Myanmar, their calls for support in defeating the illegal murderous junta. In a recent statement, 255 Myanmar civil society organizations called on UN Agencies, Funds, Programmes and Other Entities to cease all forms of cooperation that lends legitimacy to the military junta, including signing memorandums of understanding (MoU). “Partnering with the junta through an MoU compromises the UN’s ability to promote and protect human rights by emboldening the junta to continue its grave human rights violations and giving it leverage to advance its craven political and military goals,” said the groups.

In another statement, 116 Mandalay civil society organizations have blacklisted any INGOs and NGOs that cooperate, sign MoUs or operate under the directives of the terrorist military junta. “As the terrorist military council is the root cause of the humanitarian crisis, who are inhumanely and indiscriminately killing people and blocking humanitarian aid, there can be no effective assistance for the people of Myanmar,” said the groups. The groups called on INGOs and NGOs to adhere to the principle of ‘Do No Harm’ and human rights standards, which would preclude them from working with the junta.

Businesses must also ensure they comply with their international obligation to uphold human rights in their engagement in Myanmar. Last week, the US District Court overturned a decision by the Magistrates’ Court which compelled Facebook to disclose data and communications in the leadup to, and during, the Rohingya genocide that would aid in the Gambia’s genocide case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Deplorably, Facebook appealed the decision on 22 September, 2021 by the Magistrates Court, persisting in withholding information that would assist in international justice and accountability efforts, not only at the ICJ but potentially with other international accountability mechanisms. Rohingya, frustrated with the roadblocks towards achieving international accountability, are valiantly forging their own path. In a separate court filing, over 10,000 Rohingya have lodged a class-action suit against Facebook, alleging they were negligent when Facebook failed to stop the spread of hate speech on their platform and their algorithm amplified and inflamed vitriol against Rohingya and Muslims, seeking 150 billion USD in compensation.

With all these abhorrent acts of violence committed by the Myanmar military, the international community must not become complacent and must implement stronger and immediate actions against the military junta. This attempted coup does not exist inside a vacuum but forms part of the continuation of decades and decades of horrific human rights violations and atrocity crimes committed by the same military – which has been able to enjoy blanket impunity and never been brought to justice. Let the next international human rights day be one in which the people of Myanmar see the victory of Spring Revolution and the full realization of human rights in a new federal democratic Myanmar.

To achieve this, exceptional measures must be taken by the international community. The US, UK and Canada imposing new targeted sanctions on 10 December against the junta show further concrete coordinated action that are wholeheartedly welcome, but further and stronger actions must be taken. The US government must compel Facebook to disclose information to assist in securing justice and accountability for Rohingya and other Muslims. The US Congress must pass the Burma Act 2021 to further restrict the junta’s ability to financially fuel their terror campaign against the people of Myanmar and to provide essential humanitarian aid. ASEAN, another key player, must commit to supporting the people’s resistance on the ground and must work with the National Unity Government. ASEAN must not weaken their stance against the junta and not allow Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen to act alone, further damaging its credibility, as Cambodia takes the ASEAN’s Chair for 2022. Hun Sen should cancel his scheduled visit to Myanmar, as the military junta has made no attempts to end it’s brutal campaign of terror. The UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, that endorsed the role of ASEAN in the Myanmar crisis, must ensure Cambodia complies with its international obligation and not lend any legitimacy to the Myanmar junta.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်ကောင်စီနှင့် ပူးပေါင်းလုပ်ဆောင်နေသာ INGOs၊ NGOs များသို့ မန္တလေးအခြေစိုက်  အရပ်ဘက်လူမှုအဖွဲ့အစည်း (၁၁၆) ဖွဲ့ ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By 116 Mandalay-based Civil Society Organizations Network

Statement of 116 Mandalay-based Civil Society Organizations to INGOs and NGOs working with Terrorist Military Council

By 116 Mandalay-based Civil Society Organizations Network

ကုလသမဂ္ဂအေဂျင်စီများအနေဖြင့် ၎င်းတို့၏ လူ့အခွင့်အရေးဆိုင်ရာ တာဝန်ဝတ္တရားများကို လိုက်နာစောင့်ထိန်းပြီး မြန်မာစစ်အုပ်စုအား တရားဝင်မှုရစေရန် လုပ်ဆောင်နေခြင်းများကို ရပ်တန့်ရမည်

By 255 Civil Society Organizations

UN Agencies Must Comply with their Obligations to Uphold Human Rights and Cease Lending Legitimacy to the Myanmar Military Junta

By 255 Civil Society Organizations

Joint Statement: Rohingya Denounces ARSA

By 22 Rohingya Organizations

Burma Campaign UK Welcomes New UK, US and Canadian Sanctions on Burmese Military

By Burma Campaign UK

Two Myanmar journalists injured, arrested while covering anti-military protest

By Committee to Protect Journalists

Chinland Joint Defense Committee ၏ သတိပေးထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Chinland Joint Defense Committee

ချောင်းဦးမြို့နယ်ပြည်သူ့ကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့ ၏ ပြည်သူသို့ အသိပေးတင်ပြခြင်း

By Chaung U People’s Defence Force

တိုက်ပွဲသတင်း(၁၆/၂၀၂၁) ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်း

By Chaung U People’s Defence Force

U.N. Security Council: Take Urgent Action Against Myanmar Military Junta

By Fortify Rights

Canada gravely concerned over Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint convictions

By Government of Canada

Canada imposes additional sanctions on entities affiliated with Myanmar military regime

By Government of Canada

Press statement on new lawsuit against Facebook

By Global Witness

HURFOM Marks the 73rd annual International Human Rights Day by Releasing a New Briefing Paper, “Trajectory of Terror,” which finds dozens of human rights violations committed by the Burma Army in Mon State, Karen State, and Tanintharyi region

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi Sentenced

By Human Rights Watch

Myanmar: Two reporters attacked while covering anti-regime protest

By International Federation of Journalists

KHRG: Statement on Human Rights Day, 2021

By Karen Human Rights Group

Declaration of annulment of all guilty verdicts brought against the President of the Union, U Win Myint, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all the political activists including innocent members of the ethnic groups by various law courts

By National Unity Government

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ကျန်းမာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်အမှတ် (၁၄/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Health)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ စီမံကိန်း၊ ဘဏ္ဍာရေးနှင့် ရင်းနှီးမြှုပ်နှံမှုဝန်ကြီးဌာန အမိန့်ကြော်ငြာစာအမှတ် (၄/၂၀၂၁) – USD Tether (USDT) ကိုပြည်တွင်းသုံးစွဲမှုအတွက် တရားဝင်အသိအမှတ်ပြုကြောင်းကြော်

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ပြည်ထောင်စုဝန်ကြီးချုပ်ရုံး ကြေညာချက်အမှတ် (၅/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Office of the Prime Minister of the Union)

“Theatre of the absurd”: UN human rights expert denounces Suu Kyi sentence

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Civil society welcomes the UN General Assembly’s decision to reject the Myanmar military junta, urges the UN to cease all forms of cooperation that lend them legitimacy

By Progressive Voice, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and Global Justice Center

The General Assembly Stands With the People of Myanmar There Must Now Be Consistent Representation Throughout the UN

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

On the Conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi

By United States Department of State

The United States Promotes Accountability for Human Rights Violations and Abuses

By United States Department of State

New UK sanctions target human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar and Pakistan

By United Kingdom (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office)

Security Council Press Statement on Myanmar

By United Nations



Trajectory of Terror: An overview of human rights perpetrated by the Military Junta in Mon State, Karen State and Tanintharyi region

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”