Last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, gave an impassioned speech to the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in which he strongly pressed the international community to “rethink what is clearly not working, and set a new course of action.” Meanwhile on the ground in Myanmar, the military junta is conducting farcical peace talks, while simultaneously escalating conflict in Rakhine State and mercilessly continuing its all out war against the people of Myanmar.
While some fringe or military-aligned ethnic revolutionary organizations (EROs) have attended the junta-led “peace talks” in Naypyidaw in late September, 567 civil society organizations called on all EROs to not engage with the military junta’s sham peace talks. The organizations said that “it is evident that it is a sham dialogue intended to divide and rule the resistance groups, namely the Spring Revolution forces, the people and ethnic armed organizations.” Similarly, the UN and international community must not buy into the military junta’s proclamations of “peace” or transition towards democracy through sham elections.
Not only the military lacks genuine intention to undertake peace talks in good faith with all relevant stakeholders, but they clearly don’t have the mandate to convene such talks, being an illegal terrorist organization under Myanmar law. However, it is clear that the junta wishes to present these talks as if they had legitimacy, and thus to leverage the peace negotiations to buy time to strengthen their military and political position. It is imperative the international community recognizes this is farce, which the Myanmar military has repeated time and again. The declaration made by the junta leader Min Aung Hlaing that the year 2022 is “The Year of Peace,” is a complete joke given that he has continued his wanton destruction of communities, viciously targeting civilians amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes. At that time, Padoh Mahn Mahn, spokesperson of Brigade 5 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) – the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU) – said to Myanmar Now that “They offer peace to one side so they can free up their troops to fight another. It’s not a sincere offer that might actually lead to a political solution. It is a call for surrender in the guise of peace. This is their old tactic.” This echoes the fake peace professed by the junta during the past decade, in which donor countries pumped $100 millions of US dollars into a peace industry that left the people of Myanmar – particularly ethnic peoples – out in the cold.
While the so-called peace talks were being undertaken, the military junta inflamed conflict in Rakhine State, including shelling a house, killing two children and injuring several others in Na Ga Yar, Kyauktaw Township. Once again, communities in Rakhine State, including Rohingya, have had to flee their homes and villages, continuing the cycles of conflict and displacement in Rakhine State. For Rohingya people, the junta continues to devise living conditions calculated to bring about their physical destruction. Such deliberate, systematic and widespread treatment to destroy the Rohingya population in whole or in part amounts to genocide. The people of Rakhine State are still rebuilding their lives in the wake of the previous conflict between the Arakan Army and Myanmar military from 2018 – 2020. The resumption of full scale aggression by the military junta in Rakhine State reaffirms their intention to terrorize the people across the country.
Outside the peace talks, the military junta has been promoting its 2023 election plans as a PR offensive to induce the international community into believing they are genuine about a transition towards democracy. The junta’s calculation is that if the international community recognizes the election, they are recognizing the junta as legitimate governing power in Myanmar. However, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing told Russian media in an interview during his recent visit to Russia, that elections slated for August of 2023 would depend on peace, economic and political stability.
The way forward has to place the people of Myanmar at the center of the solution to the crisis. The approach adopted should both actively support the National Unity Government and pro-democracy forces within the Spring Revolution and EROs, while simultaneously de-legitimize efforts by the junta to hold sham elections and fake peace talks. As the Special Rapporteur put it to the Human Rights Council last week, the UN and member states must “back up words with actions.” At the same time, states must take strong measures to deprive the military junta of legitimacy, funds and arms. This has to include targeted sanctions on the junta and their affiliated businesses and cronies, as well as a global arms embargo. As civil society has been calling for since the coup attempt on 1 February 2021, a UN-led global response is required to assist the people of Myanmar in taking down this military junta once and for all, and establishing a genuine federal democracy.
 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.
By 71 Schools in Myanmar
By 638 Civil Society Organizations
By All Burma Federation of Student Unions
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
By Burma Human Rights Network
By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
By General Strike Committee
ဒီပဲယင်းမြို့နယ်၊ လက်ယက်ကုန်းကျေးရွာ စာသင်ကျောင်းအား အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်တပ်မှ ပစ်မှတ်ထား ထိုးစစ်ဆင်ကာ ကလေးသူငယ်(၁၃)ဦးကို သတ်ဖြတ်၍ ဒဏ်ရာရနေသည့် ဆရာ၊ ဆရာမများ၊ ကျောင်းသား ကလေးသူငယ်များကို ဖမ်းဆီးသွားခြင်းအပေါ် ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်
By General Strike Coordination Body
By Justice For Myanmar
Facebook’s plan threatens to censor media and encourage disinformation ဖေ့စ်ဘွတ်ခ်လူမှုကွန်ယက်၏ အစီအစဥ်သည် သတင်းမီဒီယာများကို ဆင် ဆာဖြတ်တောက်ရန် ခြိမ်းခြောက်လျက်ရှိပြီး သတင်းတုများ ပြန့်ပွားခြင်း ကို တွန်းအားပေးလျက်ရှိ
By 45 Media and Media Rights Organisations
By National Unity Consultative Council
By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma
By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar
By United Nations Secretary-General
By United States Agency for International Development
By United States Department of State
By Myanmar Witness
By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
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.”