New Human Rights Narrative by Myanmar’s People

December 18th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
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In an effort to prevent another Holocaust, many horrifying memories were retold before the historic document, the UDHR, was agreed on with the “Never Again” sentiment. But this compassion and desire — solemn promises — have been broken for Myanmar people for the past seven decades, soon after Myanmar voted in favor of the UDHR. The crisis in Myanmar serves as a stark reminder of the challenges in realizing the “Never Again” promise.

After 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the world’s commemoration on Human Rights Day contradicts the harsh reality that people in Myanmar are subjected to daily. Massacres, torture, abductions, airstrikes, artillery shelling, and burning of villages are daily realities for Myanmar’s people since the military launched its illegal coup attempt in February 2021. The junta has launched over 2,000 airstrikes and torched at least 76,000 properties. Inhumane conditions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and extrajudicial killings are also pervasive in junta-controlled prisons and interrogation centers. What is happening across Myanmar today is a campaign of terror where the military junta commits war crimes and crimes against humanity on the people of Myanmar.

Yet, the Spring Revolution remains resolute in their fight for human rights, to uphold what was promised in the UDHR, in the true spirit of Human Rights Day. The international community can no longer evade their shared responsibility – adopted and promised in the UDHR – to unequivocally support the tremendous efforts and sacrifices that Myanmar’s people – especially of young generations – to ensure human rights for all people of Myanmar can be fully realized.

In an effort to prevent another Holocaust, many horrifying memories were retold before the historic document, the UDHR, was agreed on with the “Never Again” sentiment. But this compassion and desire — solemn promises — have been broken for Myanmar people for the past seven decades, soon after Myanmar voted in favor of the UDHR. The crisis in Myanmar serves as a stark reminder of the challenges in realizing the “Never Again” promise. Clearly, the international community has failed and continues to fail to live up to its full commitment, lacking collective actions to protect human rights and prevent the recurrence of atrocities.

Over the course of 75 years of the UDHR, the people of Myanmar have never been able to enjoy their human rights. This is particularly true for ethnic and religious minorities who have endured decades of widespread and systematic violations of their rights committed by successive military regimes. In fact, since the 2021 coup attempt, the desperate military junta has ramped up its atrocities and terror campaign against civilians across the country, as it is facing constant vehement rejection from all sectors of Myanmar society and rapidly losing control on the ground.

On 2 December, in the resistance stronghold of Monywa Township, Sagiang Region, the military junta committed yet another massacre, killing 11 civilians and burning their bodies. Another mass killing occurred in Honar Village, Namhkam Township, northern Shan State, where the military junta launched an airstrike and dropped 500-pound bombs, killing a whole family of five, including a five-year-old child, as well as injuring another four civilians. For almost three years after the attempted coup, the junta has committed at least 175 massacres that resulted in a total of 1,794 deaths. Massacres, one of the junta’s modus operandi, usually take the form of airstrikes, artillery shelling and bombardments, which are usually targeted at civilians as collective punishment and retaliation.

Despite grave danger and persecution, countless brave individuals and communities within Myanmar have persisted in peaceful and defiant protests and continue raising awareness on human rights. On Human Rights Day, the protest of a young group that rallied in Launglon Township, Tanintharyi Region, held a sign saying, “Our rights, our future, the end of all dictatorships.” Likewise, in Monywa Township, Sagaing Region, where a massacre recently occurred, a local youth charity group, Anyar Pyit Taing Htaung Laymyar, marched to commemorate Human Rights Day and stated, “We have lost the inherent human rights due to the group of military juntas. We are no longer able to walk freely down the streets of our own city like before. We are losing our rights to live.”

The unwavering resistance of young people remains strong and firm throughout daily struggles, exemplifying the determination of the people of Myanmar to secure fundamental human rights for all peoples across the country. Their aspiration is beyond resistance — to completely remove the Myanmar military from politics, end its decades-long impunity and establish a federal democratic country where everyone can enjoy their rights and freedom. But this remarkable movement must be supported practically and substantially.

The world is overdue in making concerted efforts and taking concrete actions to address the grossly intensifying human rights crisis in Myanmar committed by the barbaric military with blanket impunity entrenched in the span of seven decades. The international community must reflect on its own failures to protect civilians in Myanmar and to allow war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to rage against the peoples of Myanmar for decades. The celebration of Human Rights Day must be followed with meaningful, strategic, compassionate, and coordinated actions; the international community must fulfil its responsibility to bring about justice and the guarantee of fundamental human rights of Myanmar’s people. These actions must include the imposition and effective implementation of further coordinated targeted sanctions, the imposition of a global arms embargo, including the supply of dual-technology and aviation fuel, as well as stopping money and weapons flow to the junta.

The people of Myanmar are leading the way in the global human rights movement. Their revolution envisions a country where children can play in schools instead of having to run from bombing and shelling and hide in bomb shelters, where all peoples and communities can sleep peacefully at home instead of spending sleepless nights in ash fields. The time is now for their vision and tireless effort to be supported by the international community.


[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

New UK Burma Sanctions Welcomed by Burma Campaign UK

By Burma Campaign UK

International Arrest Warrants Sought For Min Aung Hlaing And Other Military Officials Over Rohingya Genocide

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

Civil society welcomes the decision of GANHRI

By CSO Working Group on Independent National Human Rights Institution (Burma/Myanmar), the Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI)

ICC Member States: Refer Myanmar Junta’s Crimes to the Prosecutor

By Fortify Rights

JFM calls on GMS countries to cancel conference to be hosted by Myanmar junta; ADB will not attend or support event

By Justice For Myanmar

Statement of Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN) on the cases at the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court against the Burmese military for genocide and crimes against humanity

By Karenni Civil Society Network

Statement on International Human Rights Day

By Karen Human Rights Group



“Culture in the Crosshairs: How the Junta is Systematically Targeting Human Rights Culture with Military Impunity”

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Crisis Mounts for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

By International Crisis Group

Summary of SAC human rights violations in Karenni State and Pekhon Township (Nov 20–Dec 3, 2023)

By Karenni Civil Society Network

“Every Day, I Remember They Destroyed My Life”

By Legal Action Worldwide

Dwindling military strength and collapse signs of the junta. – Issue 133

By Myanmar Peace Monitor

Briefing Paper: Establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Myanmar

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

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.”