Myanmar CSOs issue statement of concern over rights during the COVID-19 crisis

28 March 2020
Myanmar CSOs issue statement of concern over rights during the COVID-19 crisis
People wearing masks wait outside a City Mart supermarket in Yangon, Myanmar, 24 March 2020. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

An extensive list of 200 Myanmar civil society organizations (CSOs) today issued a joint statement voicing concern about how the Myanmar authorities handle their programme to prevent the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19.

The following is the statement:

The position and critical analysis of civil society organizations on COVID-19 crisis 
March 28, 2020

Disregard to human rights, dignity, democratic values and justice will hurt us to the core.

1. The world we live in has tremendously changed in a short time. The whole nation is locked down. Each state is locked down to bar exit and entry. Borders are closed. Shelter at home ordered.

2. The uncertainty and the impending dangers caused great worry for the citizen.

3. In facing the upcoming disaster, consideration should be prioritized based on the values of human dignity, human rights, justice and democracy. It should be noted that majority of the people are already hard pressed under the yoke of bad systems.

4. A real sense of security would not be obtained if the solution neglected the needs of the citizen from the conflict ridden areas who faced internet closure and no access to timely information, citizen living under the squalid and precarious situation in IDP camps, citizen who are imprisoned due to their activism on civil and human rights, citizen who fled from the neighboring countries to avoid lock down who are also the sole bread winner of their family, citizen who lost their jobs due to the impacts of the pandemic, workers from different walk of lives, health care professionals who will battle without proper protection, woman who will face decreased income and increased domestic violence, children, and old pensioners.

5. People expect decisive actions from the government in emergency situations. International examples showed us the far reaching power of government during state of emergency, and how it could impacts positively and negatively.

6. We are worried that the unchecked power during the time of emergency and its utilization sometime eroded the human dignity and democratic values, while alluding more control to those who control political and economic power. This was exacerbated by the realities of the country whose control was ceded to only a handful of elites.

7. We would like to caution that any solution with no regard to values on human rights, human dignity, democracy and justice will not only amplify the current suffering but seriously hamper the future recovery efforts.

8. We, as a civic community, had faced the prolonged armed conflicts that wrecked countless lives, hunger and famines caused by the natural disaster with values based on human rights, human dignity, democracy and justice. Referring and calling back those experience and putting into practices may strengthen our core.

9. Lessons are abound that any intervention measure that infringe the rights of the person with suspects for virus will be futile, and worse will stifle the measures to overcome the pandemic should the suspects are treated as dangerous people and discriminated. Only with the measures that recognized the fundamental of human rights and human dignity will prevail, the measures which discriminate the suspects will only worsen the situation.

10. We, the civil society organizations, will join by cultivating social solidarity in holding the values of rights, dignity, democracy, and justice to overcome the COVID-19 disaster.

The following is a list of 97 of the 200 Endorsing CSOs

1. 3Dimension Community Development Group.
2. Action and Learning Community (ALC).
3. Action Group for Farmers Affairs (AGFA).
8. Airavati Foundation.
9. Alinsaetamarn library & resource center.
10. All Kachin Youth Union.
11. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
12. Action Committee for Democracy Development
13. Cang Bong Youth.
14. Central Chin Youth Organization.
15. Chin MATA working group.
16. Chin Youth Organization, Matupi.
17. Citizen’s Action for Transparency (CAFT).
18. CLAY.
19. Community Care for Emergency Response and Rehabilitation.
20. Community Response Group.
21. Cooperative Committee of Trade Union (CCTU).
22. Chindwin Institute Monywa.
23. Daifin.
24. Dawei Watch foundation.
25. Dawn Peace.
26. Democratic Education Corner (DEC).
27. Doe Myay Community Development organization (Twantay).
28. Enlighten Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF).
29. Ever Green .
30. Farmers and Land Rights Action Group.
31. Foundation for Education and Development (FED).
32. Future Light Center (FLC).
33. Future Young Pioneer Organization (FYPO)
34. Genuine People's Servants – GPS
35. Forest User Group-FUA
36. Green Rights Organization
37. Generation Wave.
38. Golden Heart Organization.
39. Grip Hands.
40. Hkumzup Development Committee.
41. Htoi Gender and Development Foundation.
42. Humanity Institute
43. Htoi Gin Tawng
44. IFI Watch Myanmar.
45. Justice Movement for Community, Innlay
46. Kayah Earthrights Action Network (KEAN)
47. Karenni Evergreen
48. Karenni State Farmer Union (KSFU)
49. Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG).
50. Kachin National Youth Network (KNYN)
51. Kachin State Farmer Association (KSFA).
52. Kachin State Women Network.
53. Kachin Women Union.
54. Kanpetlet Land Development Organization.
55. Kaw Dai Organization
56. Lawngbyit Hkawngt 
57. Living water Organization.
58. Mansi local.
59. Matu Baptist Churches.
60. Matu forum Committee.
61. Matu social welfare.
62. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS).
63. Men fellowship, Matupi.
64. Metta Development Foundation.
65. Mingalar Foundation.
66. Minhla Youth Centre.
67. Mon Region Land Policy Affairs Committee (MRLPAC).
68. MRJ-Myu Sha Rawt Jat.
69. Mwetaung Area Development Group.
70. Myanmar Free Press.
71. Myanmar Press Freedom Center (MPFC).
72. Myusha (Kamai).
73. MATA (Arakan)
74. MATA (Yangon)
75. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica.
76. Open Development Foundation.
77. Paung Kuu 
78. Protection Committee for Myanmar Journalists (PCMJ).
79. Rakha strength social development organization.
80. Rakhine Youth New Generation Network.
81. Shan Women Development Network.
82. Shan Youth Yangon.
83. Spectrum.
84. Summer Shelter Library.
85. Synergy – Social Harmony Organization.
86. The Seagull: Human Rights, Peace & Development
87. Shingnip Legal Aid Organization
88. Southern Youth Development Organization
89. SKY-youth, Kyaukphyu
90. Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar (Peace Seekers and Multiculturalist Movement).
91. Uakthon Local Social Development Organization.
92. Waimaw CSO Network (WCN).
93. We Generation Network.
94. Women fellowship Matupi.
95. Yangon Youth Network.
96. Zomia International Myanmar.
97. Zomi Student and Youth Organization.