Advocacy statements

Human rights and accountability in Myanmar

  • Date / 2022
  • Location / Myanmar
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Oral statement

International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 49th Session (28 February – 1 April 2022

Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (HRC res. 46/21)

Thank you Mr. President.

Theo Maung, co-founder of the Burmese Atheists, and his colleagues, are fighting for the return of democracy to Myanmar. I share this message, in their words, and on their behalf.

When the coup took place, we felt hopeless for our future. Overnight, we lost our right to internet access.[1] In the following months, peaceful protesters would be murdered on the streets by the military.[2]

Since the coup, the junta’s inhumane acts have included arresting healthcare workers, depriving us of COVID-19 vaccines[3] and blocking humanitarian aid.[4]

Rohingya Muslims have long been terrorized by the junta and the Buddhist extremism they propagate. In 2018, a UN Fact-Finding Mission found that senior military officers should be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Rohingya Muslims.[5]

Yet the perpetrators of these crimes continue to enjoy impunity. They have accumulated vast wealth through exploitation of our natural resources, and use this revenue to maintain their hold on power.[6]

The coup was a result of the international community’s failure to hold the military to account for its past crimes. At least three States, including two permanent members of the Security Council, continue to supply lethal weapons to the junta.[7]

We want the military to face consequences for the atrocities they have inflicted, and the futures they have stolen from us. We urge States to use all diplomatic means available to them to restore democracy and the rule of law to Myanmar, including the repeal of its regressive blasphemy law.

We emphasize that no-one with links to the military should be able to profit from our suffering. We call on Member States to implement all the recommendations contained in the High Commissioner’s report, particularly those that relate to a comprehensive arms embargo and targeted sanctions against military economic interests.

I thank you.

[1] https://www.article19.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Myanmar-Internet-Briefing-Paper-UPDATED.pdf

[2] https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/12/02/myanmar-protesters-targeted-march-massacre

[3] https://www.diis.dk/en/research/the-military-junta-in-myanmar-weaponizes-covid-19-against-its-opponents

[4] https://www.refugeesinternational.org/reports/2021/10/18/dire-consequences-addressing-the-humanitarian-fallout-from-myanmars-coup

[5] Report of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar (12 September 2018), A/HRC/39/64

[6] How Luxury Jewellers Risk Funding Military Abuses in Myanmar, Global Witness (December 2021), available at: https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/natural-resource-governance/conflict-rubies-how-luxury-jewellers-risk-funding-military-abuses-myanmar/

[7] Enabling Atrocities: UN Member States’ Arms Transfers to the Myanmar Military, Conference room paper of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (22 February 2022), A/HRC/49/CRP.1

Suggested academic reference

'Human rights and accountability in Myanmar', Humanists International

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