GENEVA (22 September 2020) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, today called for an immediate ceasefire in Rakhine State, decrying the death toll of innocent children that continues to rise.
“Serious questions have been raised about whether these children, and growing numbers of others, are being caught in the crossfire of war, or are being deliberately targeted,” he said. “These assaults need to stop and that the Secretary General’s call for a ceasefire must be heeded immediately.
“Two five-year-old children were killed and another was wounded by artillery fire in Myebon Township two weeks ago today,” said Andrews.
“Impunity and human rights cannot coexist,” Andrews said. Citing the videotaped confessions of two Tatmadaw defectors to massacres, rape and other against Rohingya Muslims in August 2017, he urged the government of Myanmar to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and the Independent Invesigative Mechanism for Myanmar. Andrews also referenced the International Court of Justice that is assessing Myanmar’s compliance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Andrews noted that Myanmar is facing a tremendous challenge in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic during an election season. He is calling on the international community to provide greater public health support.
The COVID-19 pandemic is “severely restricting opportunities for candidates and political parties to campaign”, said Mr. Andrews, while raising concerns that the government is imposing “vague and subjective criteria” to restrict the right to freedom of expression for political candidates.
“This is not only an infringement of fundamental rights, it is also dangerous,” said Andrews, noting that news sites serving ethnic minority areas have also been ordered shut. “Information can be critical to saving lives in a pandemic and information is the heartbeat of a free and fair election.”
Andrews also raised concerns about limitations on the right to vote in Myanmar’s upcoming elections on 8 November 2020. “The results of an election cannot accurately reflect the will of the people when the right to vote is denied because of race, ethnicity or religion,” he said. “I have seen no evidence that the government is willing or prepared to facilitate the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of voting-age Rohingya located in Rakhine State or in refugee camps in Bangladesh.”
Andrews presented satellite photographs of a Rohingya village – Khan Da Para, also known as Kan Kya — before and after it was attacked and destroyed in military-led “clearance operations” in August 2017. He showed a photo dated this year that showed a military installation where homes and villages once stood.
Citing Myanmar’s statement to the Human Rights Council last week that “commencement of repatriation is our priority”, Andrews asked: “But what does repatriation mean for those who once lived in Kan Kya? How can they be integrated into their place of origin when it has become a military base? Where is justice for those stranded in refugee camps in Bangladesh while facilities are constructed on their homeland for the same military that stands accused at the International Court of Justice for committing genocide against them?”
Mr. Thomas Andrews (United States of America) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. A former member of the US Congress from Maine, he has a Washington DC based consulting practice, Andrews Strategic Services. He has worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and parliamentarians, NGOs and political parties in Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and Yemen. He has been a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network, has run advocacy NGOs including Win Without War and United to End Genocide, and is a Robina Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Comprising the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, Special Procedures is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar
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SYSTEMATIC WAR CRIMES AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS PERPETRATED BY THE TATMADAW IN TA’ANG AREAS OF NORTHERN SHAN STATE April 2016 to December 2019
We would like to express special thanks to all the victims and the communities who contributed their voices and evidence for the report by sharing their testimonies, and for giving their time and energy to inform this report. We would like to thank all the individuals and organizations who assisted us with valuable input in the process of producing the “Peace Never Came” report, including friends who drew maps for the report and layout and also the Ta‟ang people as a whole for generously helping us access grassroots areas which provided us with invaluable information for this report.
Human Rights Situation Report by The Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma
Reveals Systematic, Widespread Abuses with Institutionalized Impunity
For Immediate Release
15 September 2020: The latest situation report by the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) reveals a steady increase of human rights violations against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and active conflict. During the reporting period of January to June 2020, ND-Burma recorded 401 cases and 446 human rights violations across six states and one region including Rakhine, Chin, Mon, Karen, Kachin, Shan states and Tanintharyi region. Clashes overwhelmingly took place in Chin, Rakhine and northern Shan states with frequent skirmishes in Karen, Mon and Kachin states.
ND-Burma member organizations also observed a continued pattern of refuted accountability, despite mounting evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the main perpetrator – the Burma Army. Our members have taken exceptional risks in their documentation in their efforts to hold perpetrators of human rights violations liable in our joint pursuits for justice. Drawing on evidence from member data and situational analysis, ND-Burma has concluded that armed conflict has perpetuated a dangerous cycle of rampant abuses for civilians across the country.
Among our key findings, ND-Burma member organizations observed 1047 victims of human rights abuses. The majority of civilians were impacted by killings, arbitrary arrest and detainment, forced displacement and torture with northern Shan, Rakhine and Chin experiencing the most clashes. These abuses were all exacerbated by an unstable security situation. Violations took place in ceasefire areas, despite agreements made between armed groups and the Burma Army.
ND-Burma members also documented cases showing how the Burma Army continues to systematically target civilians through ‘divide and rule’ tactics including the four cuts strategy which seeks to deprive groups of food, funds, recruits and information. Military blockages of humanitarian aid delayed emergency response efforts in conflict areas, which was of exceptional concern for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Further, there continues to be a shrinking space for journalists who are working in a heavily censored environment.
ND-Burma renews our calls for accountability and justice for the many grave human rights abuses that have been committed. If the process of national reconciliation is to be taken seriously, all stakeholders must commit to ceasefires by making them inclusive and engaging in a dialogue that considers the needs of those impacted by conflict. Decades of civil war have resulted in forced displacement and a lack of trust by communities impacted by the worst of the violence. Reparations and accountability are long overdue – indeed, the people of Burma deserve justice.
Ko Ting Oo, All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
Ph No: + 66 81 595 6138, 95 9 891 424 201
Lway Poe Jay, Ta’ang Students and Youth Union
Ph No: +09 264 162 229
ND-Burma is a network that consists of 13-member organisations who represent a range of ethnic nationalities, women and former political prisoners. ND-Burma member organisations have been documenting human rights abuses and fighting for justice for victims since 2004. The network consists of nine Full Members and four Affiliate Members as follows.
- All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
- Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
- Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
- Future Light Center
- Human Rights Foundation of Monland
- Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand
- Ta’ang Women’s Organization
- Ta’ang Students and Youth Union
- Tavoyan Women’s Union
- Chin Human Rights Organization
- East Bago – Former Political Prisoners Network
- Pa-O Youth Organization
- Progressive Voice
ND-Burma is extremely grateful to all interviewees for their courage in speaking the truth.
ND-Burma is also grateful to its member organisations and their fieldworkers who continue to gather invaluable testimonies at their own great personal risk.
This report would not be possible without the work of ND-Burma members and their coordinated efforts to collect evidence of human rights abuses at the expense of their safety and security. We are reminded through the voices of civilians in this report that there is still a long way to go for peace in Burma, but are nonetheless motivated by their resilience to continue to speak truth to power against forces undermining prospects for change.
We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to our supporters and institutions who have offered their unwavering support to ensure that this report was made possible.
YANGON 10 September 2020 – UNICEF Myanmar expresses deep sorrow over the deaths of two children and the injury of another child on Tuesday following an artillery fire in Myebon, Rakhine State. UNICEF is deeply concerned about the alarming increase of reports of killings and injuries of children, as a result of intensified fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army in the conflict-affected areas of Rakhine State and southern Chin.
Children should never be targeted during armed conflicts. They are being killed in crossfire between parties to the conflict or even deliberately shot. They are being killed and maimed by landmines and explosive remnants of war in different parts of the country. Their education is being hampered by attacks against schools and the use of schools by parties to the conflict.
With the disruption of services including schools, that encompass much of their daily routine, children in Rakhine already feel the heavy weight of a stressful life in a conflict-affected area. Their safety and their rights must be a primary consideration in Myanmar, and for all adults who have influence over children’s lives. UNICEF strongly urges all parties to protect children at all times and keep them out of harm’s way.
As the country tackles the resurgence of COVID-19, UNICEF urges all parties to the conflict to intensify efforts to ensure civilians, including children affected by the pandemic and the protracted conflict, continue to have access to humanitarian assistance and services by exercising maximum restraint in the use of force against civilians.