Activists Urges ASEAN & UN to Celebrate Human Rights Day by Supporting Myanmar People, Including Robingya

As well as end to military rule

Media Release:

Statement of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict–Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA) and their allies on the 2021 occasion of 73rd Human Rights Day

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THE Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict–Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA), along with its allies and partners in the broad civil society and peace movements today (December 10, 2021) join the world and the international community in celebrating the 73rd Human Rights Day.

We applaud the United Nations for promoting this day since 1948 when the UN General Assembly adopted, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) — a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

However, our human rights and democracy, including our inherent right to peace and self-determination continue to be pummelled and challenged by those who cunningly promote tyranny with a goal to curtail our fundamental freedoms and undermine our concept of democracy even as the world continues to confront a health pandemic.

Thus this year’s theme for Human Rights Day dubbed “EQUALITY — Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights” is very apt as it relates to the principles of “Equality” as stipulated in Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights and it is within this spirit and context of “equality and non-discrimination” that we strongly reassert the “imperative and most urgent task of humanity” to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts happening around the region of Southeast Asia today.

Inequalities, marginalization and exclusion are the roots of conflicts that must be eliminated if we are to build a society that respects human rights and ensures a life of dignity for all. To achieve this, governments should establish mechanisms to address legitimate grievances and provide greater space for people’s meaningful participation in decision-making that affects their lives and democratic future.

IID and GPPAC-SEA also take the observance of Human Rights Day as an opportunity to remind governments of their obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights.

Today, we call on the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to not turn a blind eye on the atrocities and human rights violations happening in their respective countries particularly in Myanmar.

The overall human rights situation in Myanmar has significantly deteriorated since the February 1 illegal power grab by Myanmar’s security forces also called the Tatmadaw. Heightened restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been the order of the day. Arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, and killings are being committed in broad daylight.

Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted by a junta court for reportedly inciting dissent and breaking Covid-19 protocols. She was sentenced to four-year imprisonment but the jail terms were reportedly reduced to 2 years after a partial pardon from coup leader and army chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Caught in the middle of this political crisis are the ethnic populations in Myanmar, particularly those in Arakan, Kachin and Northern Shan states. Since 2017, the Rohingya have been subjected to genocidal crimes with the brutal Myanmar military junta imposing stricter measures that aggravate the already dismal condition of the remaining 600,000 Rohingya in Arakan State.

We believe that the longstanding persecution of the Rohingya and the collective failure of the international community to exact accountability from the military generals of Myanmar for its crimes against humanity committed against ethnic populations have further emboldened the Tatmadaw to grab power in their February 1 coup.

IID and GPPAC-SEA can’t help but ask: Where is the ASEAN that promises to protect and uphold human rights when the junta of Myanmar unleashed its brutality against peaceful democracy protesters? Where is the ASEAN when the Rohingya people and other ethnic populations have been crying for help?

At this particular juncture, the international community including the ASEAN and the community of nations must act decisively to support the peoples of Myanmar, especially if all legal remedies and democratic avenues were already compromised and restricted by the junta.

Today, we urge all ASEAN and UN member states to apply more pressure on the military junta of Myanmar. A military takeover will never be a substitute to democratic governance and is counter-productive that will hurt not only the economy of Myanmar but the entire democratic future of the whole country. Pp

We strongly urge the ASEAN and UN to remind the military junta that a dictatorial regime has no place in a civilized world. We should not allow a culture of impunity to persist and the violation of human rights to remain unabated.

Today, we pledge our unrelenting commitment to stand in solidarity with the peoples of Myanmar for a just peace, democracy, and human rights. (✓)


Featured image is 200 years old Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon, Myanmar, photographed by SDN — Science and Digital News. For illustration only.

Editor’s Note: The opinion and/or the words contained in this statement are solely the authors alone and not of SDN — Science and Digital News.

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