Tag Archives: Myanmar

[Appeal] Open Letter to ASEAN on the situation in Myanmar

#HumanRights #Myanmar

Open Letter to ASEAN on the situation in Myanmar

Your Excellencies,

Re: ASEAN’s response to the military coup in Myanmar

As civil society organizations from the ASEAN region, we write to you urging you to use your unique position to influence the situation in Myanmar by taking immediate measures to ensure that the military respects people’s right to peaceful protests and to freedom of expression, that democracy is upheld, and the will of the people respected.

Following the Myanmar military’s illegal seizure of power on 1 February, Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing assumed all legislative, executive, and judicial powers under the newly-established State Administrative Council.

A non-violent pro-democracy movement has since grown nationwide, and the Myanmar authorities have responded by cracking down on fundamental freedoms. Hundreds of senior officials from the National League for Democracy (NLD), pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders have been arrested; mobile phone and Internet communications have been heavily restricted; highly repressive legislation, including a draft Cyber Security Bill and revisions to the Penal Code have been adopted; and restrictions on gatherings imposed.
The Myanmar security forces have also increasingly responded with force against peaceful protesters, using live munitions, water cannons and deploying armored vehicles in cities. Given the abuses committed in the past by the Myanmar military under the command of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, including international crimes against the Rohingya and in other ethnic minority areas, we are seriously concerned about a potentially violent response from the authorities.

We would like to recall to your excellencies the principles of the ASEAN Charter, which includes adhering to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, as well as the respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also recall the recent UN Security Council statement supporting and encouraging regional organizations, in particular ASEAN, to address the situation in Myanmar.

We welcome the ASEAN Chairman’s statement on the situation in Myanmar, later echoed by the representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). In addition, we are encouraged by the calls made by the leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia in seeking a special meeting of ASEAN’s foreign ministers to discuss the situation.

However, we urge you to go further by immediately using all diplomatic leverage at your disposal to ensure that the Myanmar military refrains from using violence and imposing further restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as to establish a comprehensive response that secures long-term democratic and human rights gains.

Recent developments in Myanmar are disastrous for its people, as well as the region as a whole. They create the potential for thousands of people to flee violence and persecution, as well as a volatile regional environment.

We firmly believe that it is not only crucial, but also in ASEAN’s best interests, to take a strong stance on these urgent and worrying developments. Failure to do so risks further damaging ASEAN’s reputation as an effective regional body that can meaningfully contribute to a strong and viable community of nations.

We draw strength from ASEAN’s productive engagements with Myanmar’s military in the past, most notably in response to the Cyclone Nargis crisis of 2008. We urge ASEAN to recognize that it can be equally helpful to the people of Myanmar today as it was then.

This is the perfect opportunity for ASEAN to demonstrate its political leverage and push for positive developments.

With this in mind, we urge ASEAN to:
• Immediately hold an urgent special meeting to call on the Myanmar military to adhere to the principles of the ASEAN Charter, including the principles of democracy, the rule of law, good governance, and respect for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms by:
➢ Immediately and unconditionally releasing all those currently arbitrarily detained;
➢ Refraining from using violence against protesters and respecting people’s right to privacy and information, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;
➢ Allowing parliament to resume, and elected MPs to fulfil their mandate without impediment;
➢ Immediately restoring full access to the Internet and all forms of communications; and
➢ Immediately allowing all humanitarian aid and health support to resume unimpeded.

• Collaborate with the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council to immediately send a delegation to the country to monitor the situation and help negotiate a democratic and human rights-based solution.

• Use your position in UN fora, in particular at the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council, to support enhanced monitoring and reporting of the unfolding human rights crisis in Myanmar.

• Impose targeted financial sanctions on the military as an institution, including its businesses and its associates in a manner that respects human rights and gives due consideration to any negative socio-economic impact on the ordinary civilian population, as recommended by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar;

• Impose an embargo on the transfer or sale of military arms and equipment to Myanmar; and

• Use all diplomatic leverage and establish a comprehensive response to ensure long-term democratic and human rights change in the country, including by ensuring that:

➢ The Myanmar armed forces end all violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in ethnic minority and ceasefire areas, and that all civilians are protected;
➢ Myanmar guarantees the safe, voluntary and dignified return of displaced communities, including the Rohingya, by lifting all arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on their access to citizenship, freedom of movement, and access to healthcare, education and livelihood opportunities;
➢ Myanmar fully cooperates with the IIMM and complies with the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ; and
➢ Institutional and constitutional changes are adopted that would bring the military under civilian control and ensure accountability for human rights violations.


  1. Alliance for Conflict Transformation
  2. ALTSEAN-Burma
  3. Arakan CSO network
  4. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  5. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
  6. ASEAN Youth Forum
  7. Asia Justice and Rights
  8. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  9. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  10. Athan
  11. Backpack Health Workers Team
  12. BALAOD Mindanaw
  13. Burma Medical Association
  14. Burmese Women’s Union
  15. Child Rights Coalition Asia
  16. Chin Human Rights Organization
  17. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
  18. Cross Cultural Foundation
  19. Democracy, Peace and Women Organization
  20. Equality Myanmar
  21. Freedom and Labor Action Group
  22. Generation Wave
  23. Genuine People’s Servants
  24. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
  25. Human Rights Educators Network
  26. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  27. Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
  28. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  29. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  30. Karen Affairs Committee
  31. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
  32. Karen Grassroots Women Network
  33. Karen Human Rights Group
  34. Karen Peace Support Network
  35. Karen Refugee Committee
  36. Karen Rivers Watch
  37. Karen Student Network Group
  38. Karen Teacher Working Group
  39. Karen Women’s Organization
  40. Karenni Human Rights Group
  41. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  42. Karenni Refugee Committee
  43. Keng Tung Youth
  44. Let’s Help Each Other
  45. Maramagri Youth Network
  46. MARUAH
  47. Myanmar Civil Society Core Group on ASEAN
  48. Myanmar People Alliance
  49. Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma
  50. Olive Organization
  51. Pa-O Women’s Union
  52. Pa-O Youth Organization
  53. Peace Institute
  54. People’s Empowerment Foundation
  55. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
  56. Progressive Voice
  57. Pusat KOMAS
  58. Shan MATA
  60. Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
  61. Southern Youth Group
  62. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
  63. The Alliance of Independent Journalists
  64. The Seagull: Human Rights, Peace and Development
  65. Think Centre
  66. Thwee Community Development Network
  67. TRANSCEND Pilipinas
  68. Triangle Women
  69. Women’s League of Burma

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[Press Release] Former ASEAN leaders issue letter on Myanmar intolerance

Former ASEAN leaders issue letter on Myanmar intolerance

Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday: Former ASEAN leaders have sent a joint letter to their current ASEAN colleagues, calling for stepped up engagement to address rising intolerance in Myanmar, including proposed discriminatory legislation.


The letter, issued days before the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, has been signed by His Excellency Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Prime Minister of Malaysia 2003-09, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia 1991-99), His Excellency Dr Surin Pitsuwan (ASEAN Secretary-General 2008-2013, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand 1997-2001), His Excellency Tan Sri Dr Syed Hamid Albar (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia 1999-2008), and His Excellency Mr Kasit Piromya (Minister for Foreign of Thailand 2008-2011). All the signatories were significantly engaged on Myanmar during their tenure.

The letter expressed concern that rising intolerance against religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar will undermine the country’s reform process, and may affect regional community-building, including ASEAN economic integration.

The signatories requested that ASEAN leaders enhance engagement with Myanmar to implement the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 69/248, and United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/28/L.21, which were adopted by consensus, including by ASEAN members. The resolutions call for restoration of citizenship to Myanmar’s Rohingya and for compliance with international human rights standards.

Tan Sri Dr. Syed Hamid Albar, who initiated the letter as President of HUMANiTi Malaysia, which implements humanitarian and tolerance programs, hoped the letter would serve as a gentle encouragement for ASEAN to help Naypyidaw tackle the problem in a systematic manner. “The region cannot afford to see any backsliding in Myanmar, especially since it may have negative impacts on community-building and integration. I believe many former colleagues who worked hard to help Myanmar begin reforms, and who adopted the blueprints for ASEAN integration, would also support progress on both fronts,” emphasised Tan Sri Dr. Syed Hamid.

The letter was addressed to ASEAN Heads of Government, ASEAN Foreign Ministers, ASEAN Secretary-General, and Permanent Representatives to ASEAN, and was delivered by fax and email on Monday 20 April.

Enquiries: Mr Ahmad Tarmizi Mukhtar, Secretary-General, HUMANiTi Malaysia. Tel + 6016 335 2558

Text of the letter follows:

Your Excellencies,

We would like to offer our congratulations and appreciation for the steps that the government of Myanmar and ASEAN have taken together in order to move forward on Myanmar’s political and economic transition. Much progress has been achieved since we welcomed Myanmar into the ASEAN community in 1997. It has been extremely encouraging to witness each positive development emerging under your leadership.

However, we are concerned that rising intolerance against religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar will undermine the significant gains made in recent years, and may affect regional community-building, including ASEAN economic integration.

On the occasion of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur during 24th – 27th April, 2015, we would like to respectfully request ASEAN leaders to enhance engagement with Myanmar in order to address this matter. In particular, we respectfully request that ASEAN members and institutions actively work with Myanmar to realise implementation of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 69/248, and United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/28/L.21, which were adopted by consensus, including by ASEAN members. We believe such measures are consistent with the spirit and content of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, which was also adopted by consensus.

We remain at your disposal in the pursuit of a truly-integrated people-centered ASEAN,

For Immediate Release: 22 April 2015

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[Statement] Burmese government urged to cease the assault and arrest of students protesting in Letpadan and Rangoon

10 March 2015

Burmese government urged to cease the assault and arrest of students protesting in Letpadan and Rangoon

We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemn the latest instance of brutal and indiscriminate assault by the police and vigilante groups against the students, monks, and residents in Letpadan who have been peacefully exercising their civil and political rights. We further call on the Burmese government to immediately stop the violent attacks, harassment, and arrest of students peacefully protesting against the National Education Law, which centralizes power over the education system, hampers academic freedom, and was approved without proper public consultation.

Since 20 January, hundreds of students have been marching from Mandalay to Rangoon to demand changes to the National Education Law, passed by Parliament in September 2014. The students’ 11 demands for changes to the law include ensuring the freedom to form student unions, mother-tongue language instruction in ethnic areas, greater autonomy for universities, and the allocation of 20% of the national budget to education.

On 2 March, students resumed their protests after the government failed to meet their demands to amend the law by 28 February. A group of students in Letpadan, Pegu Division, were subsequently blocked at a monastery and prevented from marching to Rangoon. In a show of solidarity, students and other supporters in Rangoon and other parts of the country also held peaceful protests at the beginning of March.

On 5 March, police in Rangoon violently cracked down on students peacefully protesting in front of Rangoon City Hall, injuring several and arresting eight protesters, including women’s rights activist Nilar Thein. On the morning of 6 March, police in Letpadan also violently dispersed the student demonstrators held near a monastery and their supporters. Police arrested five students. These detained protesters have since been released.

On 10 March, after the protesters in Letpadan were initially allowed to go to Rangoon, police and members of vigilante groups surrounded the peaceful and unarmed protesters and proceeded to brutally attack them. Injured students, monks, and Letpadan residents who had gathered to express their support were then taken away by the police.

We strongly condemn the use of excessive force and violence against the peaceful protesters by the police.[1] The government must take responsibility for the unlawful and aggressive actions of its security forces against the peaceful protesters. These aggressive actions are reminiscent of the tactics of past military regimes that have been infamous in using lethal violence against students and crushing any form of dissent. Of particular concern is the cooperation between police forces and vigilante groups, who participated in the crackdown and used excessive force against these young women and men.

If President Thein Sein is serious about making educational reform one of the priority measures of his government, it is in his interest to take an inclusive approach by having a dialogue with the students, including leaders of the National Network for Education Reform (NNER) and other student groups in the formulation of education policy.

The violent crackdowns against student protesters further intensifies the backslide on the government’s efforts to transition to full democracy and reveals the government’s continuing reliance on repressive actions. They substantiate the critique that the Burmese government is merely putting up a façade of democratic reform for the sake of gaining political legitimacy and economic engagement from the international community.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Burmese government to:

–  immediately cease and desist using excessive force and violence against the peacefully protesting students, monks, activists  and residents and ensure that security forces exercise the highest degree of restraint in any interactions with the protesters  who are exercising their civil and political rights.

–  continue to hold the next hearing sessions for the draft law amending the National Education Law with the representatives of the diverse student movement, including those from ethnic and religious minorities, and to provide the students with an effective avenue to voice their concerns and propose solutions on these matters.

–  prevent any actions that violently repress the right of the students to be heard on issues that directly affect them. This includes protecting the students from the violent actions of vigilante groups that have been harassing them. We condemn the Letpadan police’s threat of using the provisions of the Peaceful Assembly Law against the right of the student demonstrators to freedom of speech, and peaceful assembly.[2]

–  investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the violence, and institutionalize nationwide measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents.

–  drop all charges against the arrested students, and unconditionally free any students still in detention.

–  amend without delay the National Education Law in line with students’ demands to ensure authentic educational reforms that address the needs and concerns of the stakeholders.


1.   Action Committee for Democracy Development, Burma/Myanmar
2.   Actions Birmanie , Belgium
3.   Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh
4.   All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress, Burma/Myanmar
5.   Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
6.   Article 19
7.   ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
8.   ASEAN Sogie Caucus
9.   Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
10.  Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
11.  Assistant Association for Political Prisoners, Burma
12.  Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, Burma/Myanmar
13.  Association Suisse-Birmanie, Switzerland
14.  Ayerwaddy Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
15.  Backpack Health Worker Team, Burma/Myanmar
16.  Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, India
17.  Burma Action Ireland
18.  Burma Campaign UK
19.  Burma Issues, Thailand
20.  Burma Link, UK
21.  Burma Medical Association
22.  Burma Partnership
23.  Burma-Initiative, Stiftung Asienhaus, Germany
24.  Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
25.  Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association- ADHOC , Cambodia
26.  Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
27.  Child Rights Coalition  Asia
28.  Chin State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
29.  Christian Solidarity Worldwide
30.  Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization, Myanmar
31.  Civil Rights Defender
32.  Coalition for Refugees from Burma (USA)
33.  Colorful Girls, Burma/Myanmar
34.  Directorio Democratico Cubano (Cuba)
35.  Empower Foundation Thailand
36.  Forum for Democracy in Burma
37.  Free Burma Campaign, South Africa
38.  Globe International Center, Mongolia
39.  HAK Association, Timor Leste
40.  Hong Kong Coalition for a Free Burma
41.  Hong Kong Committee for Children’s Rights
42.  Htoi Gender and Development Foundation, Burma/Myanmar
43.  Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Burma/Myanmar
44.  Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
45.  Imparsial, Indonesia
46.  Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Indonesia
47.  Info Birmanie (France)
48.  Interfaith Cooperation Forum
49.  International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), France
50.  Just Associates Southeast Asia
51.  Justice for Women, Burma/Myanmar
52.  Kachin Peace Network, Burma/Myanmar
53.  Kachin State Women Network, Burma/Myanmar
54.  Kachin State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
55.  Kachin Women Peace Network, Burma/Myanmar
56.  Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
57.  Karen Community of Canada
58.  Karen Human Rights Group, Thailand
59.  Karen Women Organization, Thailand
60.  Karenni National Women’s Organization
61.  Kayan New Generation Youth, Burma/Myanmar
62.  Knights for Peace International, Philippines
63.  KontraS, Indonesia
64.  Lanna Action for Burma, Thailand
65.  Law and Society Trust (LST), Sri Lanka
66.  Magway Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
67.  Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture, Malaysia
68.  Mandalay Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
69.  MARUAH, Singapore
70.  Migrant Forum in Asia
71.  Mindanao Action Group for Children’s Rights & Protection, Philippines
72.  Mon State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
73.  Myanmar ICT for Development Organization
74.  National Youth Congress , Myanmar
75.  Natural Resources Accountability Myanmar
76.  Network for Democracy and Development, Burma
77.  Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma
78.  Norwegian Burma Committee
79.  Pago Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
80.  Palaung Women’s Organization, Burma/Myanmar
81.  Panzagar , Myanmar
82.  People’s Empowerment Foundation, Thailand
83.  People’s Watch, India
84.  People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea
85.  Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, India
86.  Pergerakan Indonesia, Indonesia
87.  Philippine Alliance for Human Rights Advocates
88.  PILIPINA Legal Resources Center, Philippines
89.  Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), Pakistan
90.  Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, India
91.  Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
92.  Radanar Ayar Rural Development Association, Myanmar
93.  Rakhine State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
94.  Right to Know Campaign, South Africa
95.  SAARC Youth Association
96.  Sagaing Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
97.  Shan State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
98.  Shwe Gas Movement, Burma/Myanmar
99.  Society for Threatened Peoples, Germany
100. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy
101.  Students and Youth Congress of Burma
102.  Suara Rakyat Malaysia
103.  Swedish Burma Committee
104.  Taiwan Association for Human Rights
105.  Taiwan Free Burma Network
106.  Tanintharyi Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
107.  Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
108.  Tavoy Women’s Union, Burma/Myanmar
109.  Tavoy Youth Organization, Burma/Myanmar
110.  Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma, Thailand
111.  Thai Volunteer Service Foundation
112.  The Life Skills Development Foundation
113.  The Seagull, Myanmar
114.  Think Centre, Singapore
115.  Union of Karenni State Youth, Burma/Myanmar
116.  US Campaign for Burma
117.  Vietnam Association for the Protection of Children’s Rights
118.  Voluntary Internship Program, Myanmar
119.  William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, UK
120.  Women Peace Network Arakan, Burma/Myanmar
121.  Women’s League of Burma
122.  World Merit, Myanmar
123.  World Student Christian Federation – Asia Pacific
124.  Yangon Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
125.  Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam, Indonesia
126.  Yayasan SEJIWA,  Indonesia
127.  Zo Indigenous Forum, India

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[Blog] Burden of Humanity: The Question of the Horrible Plight of the Rohingya. By Jose Mario De Vega

Burden of Humanity: The Question of the Horrible Plight of the Rohingya
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the Guardian report, “UN urges Burma to investigate Rohingya deaths after latest violence”, January 24.

I cannot understand why the world, it seems ironically is lacking in concern and apparently is taking an apathetic stand with regard to the Rohingya people.

The Rohingya people are one of the ethnicities of Burma and according to the United Nations itself, “are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world”.

Mario De Vega

They are Muslim people who live in the Arakan region. They are aptly dubbed as the Palestine of Asia!

As of 2012, there are 800,000 Rohingya who live in Myanmar, 300, 000 in Bangladesh and 24, 000 in Malaysia.

The 2012 Rakhine State riots, according to Wikipedia:

“are a series of ongoing conflicts between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. The riots came after weeks of sectarian disputes and have been condemned by most people on both sides of the conflict. The immediate cause of the riots is unclear, with many commentators citing the killing of ten Burmese Muslims by ethnic Rakhine after the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman as the main cause. Over three hundred houses and a number of public buildings have been razed. According to Tun Khin, the President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK, as of June 28, 650 Rohingyas have been killed, 1,200 are missing, and more than 80,000 have been displaced. According to the Myanmar authorities, the violence, between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, left 78 people dead, 87 injured, and thousands of homes destroyed. It also displaced more than 52,000 people.

“The government has responded by imposing curfews and by deploying troops in the regions. On June 10, state of emergency was declared in Rakhine, allowing military to participate in administration of the region. The Burmese army and police have been accused of targeting Rohingya Muslims through mass arrests and arbitrary violence. A number of monks’ organizations that played vital role in Burma’s struggle for democracy have taken measures to block any humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya community.”

According to Amnesty International (The Rohingya Minority: Fundamental Rights Denied [2004]), the Muslim Rohingya people have continued to suffer from human rights violations under the Burmese Buddhist junta since 1978, and many have fled to neighboring Bangladesh as a result:

“The Rohingyas’ freedom of movement is severely restricted and the vast majority of them have effectively been denied Burma citizenship. They are also subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation; forced eviction and house destruction; and financial restrictions on marriage. Rohingyas continue to be used as forced labourers on roads and at military camps, although the amount of forced labour in northern Rakhine State has decreased over the last decade.”

“In 1978 over 200,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, following the ‘Nagamin’ (‘Dragon King’) operation of the Myanmar army. Officially this campaign aimed at “scrutinising each individual living in the state, designating citizens and foreigners in accordance with the law and taking actions against foreigners who have filtered into the country illegally.” This military campaign directly targeted civilians, and resulted in widespread killings, rape and destruction of mosques and further religious persecution.”

“During 1991-92 a new wave of over a quarter of a million Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh. They reported widespread forced labour, as well as summary executions, torture, and rape. Rohingyas were forced to work without pay by the Burmese army on infrastructure and economic projects, often under harsh conditions. Many other human rights violations occurred in the context of forced labour of Rohingya civilians by the security forces.”

It feels like that the people of the world does not give a damn to their suffering and completely shut their eyes to the unimaginably horrendous and indescribable misery undergoing by this ethnic minority in Burma.

This in my view is the ultimate heights of irony and the undeniably the lowest pits of absurdity. This is a massive shame to all of us, to humanity as a whole. Yet, having said that, all is not lost, for there is hope!

It is on this great sense that I am applauding the United Nations for standing up and taking the cudgel of the Rohingya people and bringing it on to the attention of a seemingly passive world!

I am specifically commending the commissioner of the UN Human Rights, Madame Navi Pillay for steadfastly and consistently highlighting the sorry and grim plight of this ethnic group.

The “UN human rights agency says it has information of 48 Muslims killed in Rakhine by Buddhist mobs, the deadliest in a year.” This accusation came directly from The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay.

Said commissioner also dared Yangon to tell the truth “by responding to these incidents quickly, the Burmese government has an opportunity to show transparency and accountability.”

According further to the Guardian report:

“At least 48 Muslims were killed when Buddhist mobs attacked a village in an isolated corner of western Burma earlier this month, the United Nations has said, calling on the government to carry out a swift, impartial investigation and to hold those responsible accountable.”

As usual, the Presidential spokesman Ye Htut “has vehemently denied reports of a massacre” and “strongly objected to the UN claims.”

According to him, “the facts and figures” that pertains to this incident were “totally wrong”, but “evidence of a massacre has been steadily mounting.”

As already noted, “Burma, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million people, has been grappling with sectarian violence since June 2012.”

Undeniably, “the incident in Du Chee Yar Tan, a village in northern Rakhine state, appears to be the deadliest in a year, and would bring the total number killed nationwide to more than 280, most of them Muslims. Another 250,000 people have fled their homes.”

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said that “she had received credible information that eight Rohingya Muslim men were attacked and killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local Rakhine on 9 January.”

The commissioner also pointed out that “the UN believes at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women and children were killed, bringing the total to at least 48.”
Pillay categorically stated that:

“I deplore the loss of life … and call on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice…”

Further, said commissioner also admonished Yangon to answer to this bloody incident:

“By responding to these incidents quickly and decisively, the government has an opportunity to show transparency and accountability, which will strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar.”

It was reported that after the aftermath, “the village has been emptied and sealed off since the massacre.”

I concur with the call to the government of the executive director of the Thailand-based rights group, Fortify Rights, Matthew Smith “to give humanitarian workers, independent observers and journalists, unfettered access to the area. He said hundreds were still in hiding and may need help.”

I am also in agreement with him that the mass arrests must stop.

Smith said that:

“These arbitrary detentions broaden the scope of the human rights violations in the area and should be immediately brought to an end. There needs to be accountability for this wave of horrific violence … but mass arrests of Muslim men and boys are not the way.”

Though the Burmese government has repeatedly denied that any violence that took place on the said area on the said date, I am compel to say that I do not believe on their repeated denial. If what they are saying is true, then they should allow the UN workers, independent media and journalists and other pertinent global humanistic organization to go to the said area to see for themselves the true state of affairs.

I call upon the international community and all humanists to join the struggle of the Rohingya people.

Once, the late great President Nelson Mandela said that:

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
Nonetheless, I would like to add to those words of wisdom of that great man:

That our freedom is incomplete without the freedom, not only of the Palestinian people, but also those of the Rohingyas and all people who are victims of violence, marginalization, discrimination, exploitation and dehumanization, etc!

To paraphrase the immortal words of Rosa Luxemburg:

What I want is a universal system that will enable me to love everybody with a clear conscience.


Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[People] Violations expose Myanmar reforms as a sham by Renato G. Mabunga

Violations expose Myanmar reforms as a sham
by Renato G. Mabunga
November 6, 2012

Myanmar’s parliament was to debate on Monday a proposal to abolish a provision in the 1975 State Protection Act that allows the government to restrict the fundamental rights of people suspected of “endangering state sovereignty and security, public peace and tranquility.”

The proposal is the latest among legislative initiatives that are part of Myanmar’s “reform process,” although freedoms of expression, assembly and association continue to be systematically violated.

The purported legislative reforms, with the enactment of several new laws and the review of existing ones, have largely resulted in new forms of controls and restrictions that are applied selectively.

Myanmar’s reform process has resulted in little, if any, improvement on the respect for fundamental freedoms on the ground. It has become largely an empty showcase to appease the international community.

A fact finding mission conducted by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) from October 24 to 30 discovered that the rights to peaceful assembly and of association of particular groups, including former political prisoners, labor rights activists, student unions, and members of ethnic nationalities, are still being denied.

An array of laws that restrict the fundamental freedoms of the rights to expression, assembly and association, including the Emergency Act, the Unlawful Association Act, and the 1988 law relating to the formation of associations, remain.

The right to freedom of assembly, in particular, has been denied to groups that are considered “sensitive” or threatening to the government.

In the last two months alone, scores of individuals have been arrested for organizing and participating in peaceful assemblies.

In September, 13 leaders, organizers, and participants of peaceful assemblies to mark International Peace Day were summoned and subsequently charged under the 2012 Decree on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession after their application for a permit was rejected by the government.

Leaders and organizers of peaceful demonstrations, including protest actions against a mining project in the Letpadaung region, are also facing threats and harassment from authorities.

However, some street demonstrations were allowed to proceed, including the anti-Rohingya protest actions of Buddhist monks and university students in Rakhine state.

These double standards in the implementation of the law call into question the universal principles of Buddhism on peace, harmony, wisdom and understanding.

The continued violations of fundamental freedoms and new forms of control expose the empty façade of Myanmar’s reform process. Human rights protection in Myanmar will remain illusory if fundamental freedoms are not properly safeguarded in the current legal reforms.

Renato Mabunga is chairman of Human Rights Defenders, a lobbyist at the UN Human Rights Council and a regional educator on human rights. He was in Myanmar last week to assess freedoms of expression, assembly and association in the country on behalf of FORUM-ASIA


UCA News

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[Statement] Remembering the Saffron Revolution, Solidarity Activists vow to continue support in pushing for genuine reforms and democratization in Burma -FBC-Phils.

Remembering the Saffron Revolution, Solidarity Activists vow to continue support in pushing for genuine reforms and democratization in Burma

On the 5th anniversary of the Saffron Revolution, the Free Burma Coalition- Philippines (FBC-P) reiterates its solidarity with the Burmese peoples’ continuing struggle for genuine democracy, freedom and justice.

FBC-P believes that the current changes taking place in Burma, is the result of a long history of resistance of the Burmese peoples – including the series of escalating protests that took place on September 22 – 27, 2007, known as the Saffron Revolution. The military regime did not effect the ongoing reforms willingly.

The Saffron Revolution- led by brave, young and old Buddhist monks and sustained by courageous students– was a clear message that the Burmese people have had enough of the repression under the Generals who have virtually governed their lives since their nation’s inception.They could no longer be silenced.

As changesunfold, it should be emphasized that democratization within Burma is nowhere close to creating the necessary conditions towards building genuine democracy in the country.The intensifying ethnic conflicts, continued militarization in the borders, oppressive laws, remaining political prisoners,spreading violence against women and children, persistent human rights violations with impunity, denial of peoples participation in the decision making process, among others, are issues that desperately merit the attention and sustained support of the international solidarity movement.

For FBC-P, genuine democratization in Burma can only be achievedthrougha process thatinvolves the people – through genuine consultations and dialogues.The international solidarity movement to which FBC-P belong, will continue, and, intensify its workin pressuring and pushing for genuine democratization In Burma.

For comments and suggestions please call IID-MLO 02.911.0205 or 02.435.2900;
Attention: Malou Tabios-Nuera, Email: mltabios@gmail.com; Mobile: 0947.235.2648
Rich de los Santos, Email: rich.delossantos84@gmail.com; Mobile: 0927.644.6524

September 28, 2012

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[Statement] from the Burma/Myanmar Delegation to the ACSC/APF 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Statement from the Burma/Myanmar Delegation to the ACSC/APF 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Burma/Myanmar’s workshop, along with three other workshops, was not allowed to take place at the ACSC/APF 2012. Rather, the organizers were forced to move the workshops to another location.

The workshop was to be on Burma/Myanmar’s current political and human rights situation and the challenges this poses to the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014. On the first day of the conference organizers also received pressure to remove pictures of political prisoners from Burma/Myanmar in the exhibition hall of the conference.

The challenges and restrictions experienced in Cambodia are an alarming reminder that Burma/Myanmar’s chairmanship in 2014 will likely face significant hurdles in providing the space for the people of Burma/Myanmar and the independent regional civil society to gather and take the people’s concerns to ASEAN leaders.

Indeed, despite encouraging developments, Burma is still a place of systematic and widespread human rights violations that may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, and no political space and freedom. The recent negotiations between Thein Sein’s government and ethnic armed groups have not led to an end to conflict and the Burma Army continues to perpetrate gross human rights abuses against ethnic civilians.

The recent easing of media censorship has not been accompanied by legislative reforms. Repressive laws, which include restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly and the press, remain on the books.

Released political prisoners face ongoing harassment, constant surveillance and re-arrest. There remain a documented 959 political prisoners behind bars, but this number is believed to be higher. The people continue to fear arrest for their political activities.

We therefore urge ASEAN leaders to:

Respect the right to freedom of speech and assembly of the independent civil society and the people of ASEAN.

Commit to promote a genuinely people-centered ASEAN and the free and meaningful participation of the people of Burma/Myanmar and the regional independent civil society in ASEAN’s process of community building during Burma/Myanmar’s chairmanship in 2014.

Urge President Thein Sein to:
Unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and immediately stop intimidation and surveillance of those who have been released;
Withdraw Burma Army troops from ethnic areas and reach a nationwide ceasefire that addresses the root political causes of conflict with ethnic armed groups;
Provide aid to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in all conflict affected areas and permit international and local NGOs to deliver humanitarian assistance;
Address the issue of truth and accountability for human rights abuses and put an end to the ability of the Burma Army to perpetrate crimes with impunity;
Amend or repeal those laws that restrict the human rights of the people of Burma/Myanmar in order to guarantee free and meaningful participation of the people and independent civil society in the transition process;
Ensure that development projects take into account local communities’ needs and rights, do not exacerbate conflict, respect international environmental and human rights standards, are conducted in a transparent manner and support civil society;
Constructively combat the country’s drug problem by supporting alternative crop development rather than destroying opium fields and livelihoods, by investigating the Burma Army’s involvement in the drug trade and carrying out public awareness-raising about the dangers of drug use throughout the country; and;
Ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and promote economic and social integration of disabled persons.

Source:  Task Force on ASEAN and Burma on the ACSC/APF 2012

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Suu Kyi makes election debut in Myanmar

Suu Kyi makes election debut in Myanmar.

April 1, 2012

Kawhmu, Myanmar — Voting began Sunday in Myanmar elections seen as a test of the government’s budding reforms, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi standing for a seat in parliament for the first time.

A victory for Suu Kyi would cap a remarkable transformation for the 66-year-old icon of the pro-democracy movement, who spent most of the past 22 years locked up by the generals who ruled the country for decades.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to a landslide election victory in 1990 but the junta never recognised the result.

Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, was not a candidate herself on that occasion because she was under house arrest.

Her party is contesting 44 of the 45 seats at stake in Sunday’s vote — not enough to threaten the ruling party’s majority, but a seat in parliament would give the opposition leader a chance to shape legislation for the first time.

Polling stations opened at 6:00 am (2330 GMT Saturday) and were due to close at 4:00 pm, with more than six million people eligible to vote. The results are expected within about one week, according to election officials.

Observers say the regime wants the pro-democracy leader to win a place in parliament to burnish its reform credentials and smooth the way for an easing of Western sanctions.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

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[Blogger] Games, Politics, and Society -Politics for Breakfast

Games, Politics, and Society
Politics for breakfast
February 19, 2012

Should Syria continue its costly war against terrorism? Did Myanmar‘s junta make a good choice in letting Aung San Suu Kyi campaign for a parliament seat? Why did Ahmadinejad decide to disclose new nuclear projects amid apparent opposition of the US and NATO countries on its nuclear program? How will the Philippine Senate vote on the impeachment case of the Supreme Court Justice given the President’s obvious preference?

The political arena is defined by such decisions on conflict and cooperation involving civilians, political parties, religious groups, social movements, corporations, and even revolutionary groups. The process with which one can arrive at a rational, well-thought-of decision in politics seems to be overwhelming, given the complexity of individual and social behavior.

Read full article @ politicsforbreakfast.blogspot.com

[In the news] DFA chief Del Rosario meets Suu Kyi, vows support -INQUIRER.net

DFA chief Del Rosario meets Suu Kyi, vows support
By Jerry E. Esplanada, Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 14, 2012

MANILA, PhilippinesForeign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has joined the growing list of supporters of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

During a Feb. 9 meeting with Suu Kyi at her Rangoon residence, Del Rosario “expressed his sincere wish” the opposition leader would win in Burma’s (Myanmar) parliamentary by-elections scheduled for April 1.

They “held a brief exchange of views” about the coming elections, as well as on “political and socioeconomic reforms and the rule of law” in the Southeast Asian country, said Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez.

In a text message, Del Rosario said that he and Suu Kyi “discussed reforms towards democracy and national reconciliation and the need for sustainability.”

“We also declared our support for the lifting of sanctions against Burma and offered our proposal to develop Philippine-Burmese parliamentary friendship,” the DFA head told the Inquirer.

Read full article @ globalnation.inquirer.net

[Event] DEMOCRATIZATION PERSPECTIVES IN BURMA: “Strengthening Philippine Solidarity” A Public Forum- FBC Phils

The Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Phils)
and the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)

invite you

File photo source: guardian.co.uk


“Strengthening Philippine Solidarity

A Public Forum

09 February 2012 (9:00am-8:00pm)

UP Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines – Diliman Quezon City



9:00 to 12:00noon lunch at 12:00 noon


Welcome Remarks

Presentations by speakers focusing on the following topics:

Burma in transition to democracy?

The role of states and peoples in accompanying Burma towards democratization

Challenges to the solidarity movement

Panel of Reactors/ Open Forum



[From the web] Next two years key to human rights development in ASEAN region – UN human rights chief

BALI / GENEVA (28 November 2011) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday that the next two years will be crucial to the development of regional and national human rights institutions in the ASEAN region, particularly in the light of developments under way in Myanmar, which will chair ASEAN in 2014.

Pillay has spent the last three days on the Indonesian island of Bali meeting the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), National Human Rights Institutions from four of the ten ASEAN countries* and a broad range of civil society organizations. While in Bali, she also spoke by telephone with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, on a range of issues including Myanmar’s forthcoming chairmanship of ASEAN.

“One element that emerged very clearly from the meetings and discussions that I had are that the next couple of years will be crucial if the advancement of human rights is to gather pace in this region,” Pillay said.

Pillay commended Indonesia’s “very positive” approach to human rights during its 2011 chairmanship of ASEAN and AICHR (which was created in 2009 with a broad mandate to promote human rights), and its vice-chairmanship of a second human rights body, the ASEAN Commission for Women and Children.

“These regional human rights bodies are still young, but I hope and believe they will develop in the years to come, and we must be careful to encourage this evolution,” she said. “It is important to sustain the momentum generated by the very welcome creation of these bodies, and it is now time to start shifting up through the gears.”

Earlier, in the first ever address by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to AICHR, she noted that “the aspirations and expectations outside this room are high – in civil society, the media, among ASEAN’s international partners and, most importantly, among ordinary people.” At the end of the day, she added AICHR Commissioners – and the governments they represent – “will be judged by what they achieve,” how their work compares with regional bodies elsewhere in the world and whether or not it is in line with international standards.

“It will be very important to show tangible achievements and creative applications of AICHR’s mandate by the time the first review of AIHCR takes place in 2014,” the High Commissioner said.

Pillay noted that a number of concerns had been raised by around 75 delegates, representing 40 civil society organizations from nine of the ten ASEAN countries, with whom she held several hours of discussions on Sunday. “The number one concern,” she said, “was that AICHR – as a body — is not talking to civil society, although there have been some contacts with the current chairperson and one or two other Commissioners in their individual capacity. That is a major concern to me as well. No discussion of human rights can be complete or credible without significant input from civil society and national human rights institutions.”

The UN human rights chief also urged AICHR to listen to civil society calls for more transparency, particularly with regard to the forthcoming ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, due to be finalized by the end of the year. “This is potentially  a very important document which may set the tone for years to come,” Pillay said. “And I can understand civil society organizations’ extreme frustration that they have not even been able to contribute to the drafting of the declaration, or been adequately consulted on its contents. This is happening against the backdrop of some significant changes, for instance the new political dynamics that seem to be developing in Myanmar and the reform of draconian national security laws elsewhere in the region.  At the same time, freedom of expression continues to be threatened in many countries and increasing religious intolerance has placed pressure on women and minorities.”

Noting the intense spotlight that will be focused on ASEAN’s progress on human rights in 2014, when the first review of AICHR takes place under the Chairmanship of Myanmar, the High Commissioner said she had discussed this and other related issues with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the weekend.

“We covered a range of issues in Myanmar, including recent encouraging developments such as the release of some political prisoners and the creation of the national human rights commission,” Pillay said. “Aung San Suu Kyi has always been a tremendously inspirational figure when it comes to the promotion of human rights and democracy. I am encouraged by the fact that the Government of Myanmar, and in particular the President, have started a dialogue with her. Nevertheless, we both agreed that there is still a very long way to go.”

Pillay said that Myanmar would need to be making significant progress in a number of key areas by the time it takes over the Chair of ASEAN and its human rights subsidiaries in two years time.

“Aung San Suu Kyi informed me that she believes the number of political prisoners remaining in detention is probably around 600, although there may be others her party is not aware of,” Pillay said. “I join her in her desire to see all political prisoners released in the very near future.”

Pillay said she and Aung San Suu Kyi discussed a number of other key issues where demonstrable progress would be needed by 2014.

“Perhaps most fundamentally, significant moves towards establishing the rule of law are key to halting the serious human rights violations taking place in Myanmar,” the High Commissioner said. “For the outside world to be sure this is happening, there will need to be a system of independent human rights monitoring across the country, including in remote conflict-affected areas, and there needs to be a major effort to resolve the conflicts themselves, and the underlying issues that fuel them.”

“During my talks with the four existing ASEAN National Human Rights Institutions, and with Aung San Suu Kyi, we agreed it was important to engage with the fifth national human rights institution created in Myanmar in September. It will inevitably require time and support to establish the independence and credibility it needs to be fully accepted on both the national and international stages.”

Pillay also said the next round of by-elections will provide a further indication of how quickly progress is being made. “In addition to the conduct of the next elections, the Government needs to encourage the development of independence: independent civil society organizations, independent media and a truly independent National Human Rights Commission,” she said.

“Aung San Suu Kyi was cautiously optimistic,” Pillay added. “I share her optimism — and her caution. We should not underestimate the magnitude of the tasks that lie ahead for the Government, people and institutions of Myanmar as they develop their much-needed reforms. I pledge to do everything I and my office can to help transform the recent positive signals and tentative advances into substantial and irreversible progress.”

Pillay noted, as another encouraging sign, that staff from her Regional Office in Bangkok were invited to carry out human rights training for a wide range of government officials from various ministries in November. “The feedback was encouraging,” she said. “These officials, many of them from an emerging younger generation, were very positive, interested, energized. Both the human rights training, and its enthusiastic reception, would not have been permitted only a couple of years ago.”

(*) The four ASEAN states with internationally recognized National Human Rights Institutions are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.


Learn more about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx

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[In the news] Noynoy should lead opposition to Myanmar’s Asean bid: HRW – Interaksyon.com

Noynoy should lead opposition to Myanmar’s Asean bid: HRW – Interaksyon.com.

InterAksyon.com, Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno S. Aquino III should take the lead in opposing Myanmar’s wish to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2014 until the military junta “takes genuine steps toward improving human rights,” Human Rights Watch said Friday.

ASEAN is considering giving military-led Myanmar the chair of the grouping in 2014, despite grave concerns about human rights abuses and sham democracy.

Senior ASEAN officials gathering in Jakarta ahead of a leadership summit at the weekend said Myanmar — also known as Burma — had sought the chair of the 10-nation bloc in 2014, when communist Laos is due to take the job.

ASEAN’s chairmanship rotates alphabetically among its member states. Myanmar relinquished its turn in 2006 due to international pressure for democratic reforms. But the country also wanted assurances that it could ask to lead the group at any time if it felt it was ready, ASEAN officials said.

“Myanmar feels that this is it, this is their chance,” an ASEAN diplomatic source told the Agence France-Presse on the sidelines of the discussions.

Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Asia, said that the Philippines  was among the few ASEAN countries that did not equate the rigged elections in Myanmar last November with genuine democratic reforms.  “President Benigno Aquino III should spearhead an ASEAN strategy for bringing about real human rights improvements in Burma,” Pearson said.

Aquino, the son of Filipino democracy icons Corazon and Ninoy, has in the past called for the release of political prisoners in Myanmar.

Read full article @ InterAksyon.com

[In the news] ACSC/APF screens Suu Kyi`s video message – www.antaranews.com


ACSC/APF screens Suu Kyi`s video message. Photo by Egay Cabalitan Jr.

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The 6th ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People`s Forum 2011 screened a video message of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after the opening by Vice President Boediono here Tuesday.

In the five-minute message, Suu Kyi talked about ASEAN and democracy.

She said Myanmar was part of ASEAN and the Myanmar people wanted to work more closely with the peoples of other ASEAN member countries.

“ASEAN is very important for our future, and we hope that we will also be very important for ASEAN,” she said.

She reaffirmed her commitment to promote democracy in her country for the sake of achieving a better life for the people.

Suu Kyi said she was impressed by the political transition in Indonesia which had managed to change the previous authoritarian regime into a democratic government.

“We also want the best for our region, and the best for the world,” she said.

Read full article @ http://www.antaranews.com (link above)