HRC 41: Response to the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar

Civic Space 3 min read
ARTICLE 19

Summary

ARTICLE 19 delivered the following oral statement at the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for her oral update on the human rights situation in Myanmar, and regret that the Myanmar government has continued to deny her access to the country. We call on authorities to immediately facilitate a visit by the Special Rapporteur.

We share the Special Rapporteur’s concern regarding the persistent threats to freedom of expression and other human rights in Myanmar.

We are appalled by reports that the Myanmar military continues to commit grave human rights abuses amounting to crimes under international law in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin States. Moreover, we are concerned by the government’s persistent efforts to shield these abuses from scrutiny by media and the international community.

We are particularly worried by the government’s decision to block internet access in nine conflict-affected townships in Rakhine and Chin States. The internet blackout, which began on 21 June, has impeded the ability of local residents to transmit information about human rights abuses in a region where Myanmar security forces have been accused of killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearances and forced labour.

We are also concerned about the continued targeting of those reporting on human rights violations and criticising the government. While we welcome the pardon and release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, their conviction and lengthy detention continue to exert a chilling effect on independent journalism.

We condemn the criminal proceedings against Rakhine journalist Aung Marm Oo, who has reported on human rights abuses committed in the context of the conflict between the Arakan Army and Myanmar military.

We also condemn the charging and detention of filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and seven members of a Thangyat theatre troupe, as well as the criminal proceedings against Irrawaddy editor Ye Ni, all of whom criticized or satirized the Myanmar military.

We remind member States that former child soldier Aung Ko Htwe continues to serve a prison sentence of two years and six months because of his courageous decision to speak to the media about his forcible recruitment by the Myanmar military at age 13.

We continue to call on the Myanmar government to reform or repeal the laws routinely used to target journalists, human rights defenders and government critics, including the Official Secrets Act, Unlawful Associations Act, Telecommunications Law and Penal Code.

Finally, we urge the government to work constructively with the Special Rapporteur and other human rights mechanisms to improve protections for human rights in Myanmar and to hold accountable those responsible for violating human rights, including the right to freedom of expression.