This analysis paper seeks to evaluate the actions and complicity of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC or Commission) in the failed coup attempt launched by the Myanmar military junta since 1 February 2021. The intention of this paper is to inform regional and international actors, particularly regional National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Asia Pacific Forum (APF), Southeast Asia National Human Rights Institution Forum (SEANF) and Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) of the complete irreparable state of the MNHRC, complicity in the military junta’s war of terror and atrocity crimes against Myanmar people and the need to support the CSO Working Group on Independent National Human Rights Institution (Burma/Myanmar) (“Working Group”)’s blueprint for the establishment of a new national human rights institution under Myanmar’s legitimate government, the National Unity Government (NUG). 1 The defining argument this paper puts forward is that supporting the Myanmar people’s fight for a genuine federal democracy is the most sustainable solution for promoting and protection of human rights in Myanmar and thus is best achieved through the international community completely disengaging with the MNHRC.
This analysis paper builds on the work of the Myanmar chapter of the 2020 ANNI Report on the Performance of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia (“ANNI Report”),2 and the extended chapter of the ANNI Report produced by the Working Group in late 2021.3 Furthermore, this paper critically reflects on the actions and omissions of MNHRC set against the obligations of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) as prescribed by the Paris Principles.4 It traces the key landmark events that have shaped the MNHRC’s rapid decline in the wake of the attempted coup, starting with complicitly in the military’s failed coup attempt, followed by their continued silence as the military committed mass atrocities throughout 2021 and 2022, and ending with the MNHRC’s statement in support of the military junta’s prison release in November 2022. At the very heart of it, the MNHRC does not and never has truly represented the people of Myanmar or advocated for their human rights – thus the need for the emergence of a new human rights commission is critical and urgent.
This paper utilizes desk research and coordination with local Myanmar civil society organizations, particularly members of the Working Group. The desk research draws on previous ANNI reports, UN reports, observations of the GANHRI and the MNHRC’s online resources. This paper is authored by The Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) and the Working Group.