Amnesty calls for pressure on human rights to be maintained on Myanmar

A general view of the assembly, during the opening of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 13 September 2016. Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA

As Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in the United States to meet with President Barack Obama and attend the United Nations General Assembly, the international community must maintain pressure on Myanmar’s authorities to improve the country’s human rights record, Amnesty International said today.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s trip to the US comes as the new civilian-led government enters its sixth month in office. In this time, it has taken some steps to address human rights but still faces challenges bequeathed by a half a century of military rule.

“We have seen encouraging changes as Myanmar eases out from under the shadow of military rule. But there is still a lot more to do to ensure a decisive break with the country’s ugly past of human rights violations,” said RafendiDjamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

“For almost a quarter of a century, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution on human rights in Myanmar. It is important that the same happens this year. The gains made so far have to be consolidated and built upon, not left incomplete or eroded.”

A new quasi-civilian government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, came to power in March 2016 after a resounding victory of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), in the 2015 elections. Upon taking office, it faced a daunting series of human rights challenges.

In addressing those challenges, the NLD’s power is severely constrained by the enduring influence of the Myanmar military, which continues to control key ministries and can block constitutional changes with a quarter of all seats in parliament.

The importance of a UNGA resolution on human rights in Myanmar is further underlined by the fact that none of the recommendations made in previous resolutions have been fully implemented.

“When it comes to ongoing conflict, the plight of the Rohingya, humanitarian assistance for displaced communities, holding human rights violators to account, curbing hate speech, and reforming repressive laws, little has improved,” said RafendiDjamin.

“Any decision to drop the UNGA resolution should be based on an objective assessment of the human rights situation in the country, not on political considerations. The reality on the ground makes clear that it is still too early to relax international pressure.”

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