Upon deliberation at the 19th Meeting of the AICHR, the AICHR is pleased to announce the list of CSOs with successful applications for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR as follows:
Child Rights Coalition Asia
MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)
Persatuan Penyandang Disabilitas Indonesia
Save the Children Philippines
The Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation
The AICHR looks forward for a meaningful and constructive engagement and interaction with the CSOs with Consultative Relationship to further enhance cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
(Update – 27 March) – Thank you to everyone who have shared the word, contributed to the collage or are doing your part to spread the word and show support for the people in Myanmar.
We have created a collage based on submissions from our readers. Please do share this video collage with those around you.
THIS CHAPTER: A IN SOLIDARITY CALL TO ALL PEOPLE IN SINGAPORE
We are trying to get MANY, MANY people in Singapore to show their support for the people in Myanmar.
These are the details:
February 1st the military (Tatmadaw) in a coup d’état took over rule from an elected government, disregarding the results, the positive comments made by international elections observers or the work done by the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH)
They arrested many elected political leaders, including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Millions of Myanmarese protested, many stopped work to join the civil disobedience movement (CDM) to fight for their democracy, freedom and justice. Many young and older persons have said that they are ready to die for their country and freedom.
To date (March 21st) 235 people have been killed, mainly from shots to their heads. Many more injured. More than 2,330 people have been arrested. Myanmar is under martial law set by the military
The military is relentless in targeting people, communities, killings, destroying the CDM’s barricades in the many cities around the country and in forcing threatening people to be their human shields in the work against protesters.
Some countries have stated they are not recognising the Tatmadaw as the government of Myanmar. Some have imposed sanctions. United Nations has issued statements. So has ASEAN. Some ASEAN member countries have issued stronger statements on this situation. But thoughtful and concerted action remains limited.
Some Links given below give a clearer picture of the situation.
What we are asking from you:
A call has been made to people in ASEAN to show solidarity with the people in Myanmar.
As people living in Singapore, we hope you will believe in supporting the people in Myanmar. If so, please do this:
take a photo of yourself, holding up the 3-finger salute that Myanmarese are using.
Do not make the photo larger than 1megabytes
Please send it to email@example.com with the subject – In Solidarity with Myanmar (Photo collage)
Please indicate a name in English, if you like, otherwise, the subtitled image will be left anonymous.
MARUAH Singapore reserves the right to reject images that are offensive and prejudicial to the intent and spirit of this request.
Please submit your photos by Thursday 25th March by 10.00 pm.
Sample image (taken from the Internet)
The collage will be created with some of the following statements:
From Singapore: IN SOLIDARITY With The People In Myanmar
# AGAINST the Coup d’état and Military takeover in Myanmar
# AGAINST the escalating armed violence by the military
# AGAINST people being killed and injured
#AGAINST Imprisonment, Tortures, Deaths of political leaders, activists, journalists, protesters
# AGAINST THE LACK OF ACTION by International, Regional communities
# FOR Democracy
# FOR Rule of Law
# FOR Humanitarian Aid for the injured and food for the people
# FOR China and Russia to not veto and join the UN Security Council to denounce the military takeover and support action against the military for the coup and the violence
# FOR Targeted Economic Sanctions, Global Travel Bans and Asset Freezes by Governments, Banks and the Private Sector when it comes to military personnel, military-owned companies within the Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Companies and Myanmar Economic Corporation
# FOR a global arms embargo to block supplies and sales of weaponry to the military and other armed groups
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.
Alliance for Conflict Transformation
Arakan CSO network
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
ASEAN Youth Forum
Asia Justice and Rights
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
Backpack Health Workers Team
Burma Medical Association
Burmese Women’s Union
Child Rights Coalition Asia
Chin Human Rights Organization
Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
Cross Cultural Foundation
Democracy, Peace and Women Organization
Freedom and Labor Action Group
Genuine People’s Servants
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
Human Rights Educators Network
Human Rights Foundation of Monland
Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
Initiatives for International Dialogue
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
Karen Affairs Committee
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
Karen Grassroots Women Network
Karen Human Rights Group
Karen Peace Support Network
Karen Refugee Committee
Karen Rivers Watch
Karen Student Network Group
Karen Teacher Working Group
Karen Women’s Organization
Karenni Human Rights Group
Karenni National Women’s Organization
Karenni Refugee Committee
Keng Tung Youth
Let’s Help Each Other
Maramagri Youth Network
Myanmar Civil Society Core Group on ASEAN
Myanmar People Alliance
Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma
Pa-O Women’s Union
Pa-O Youth Organization
People’s Empowerment Foundation
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
MARUAH unequivocally condemns the military takeover of Myanmar on February 1, 2021.
The Tatmadaw (military) overthrew the elected government of Myanmar, detained government leaders, civil service officers, activists and human rights rights defenders, imposed a year-long Emergency on the country and has blocked intermittently access to Internet. To date the military has given no official data on the state of well-being of the elected leaders of the Myanmar government, their locations, the number of people arrested and information on who have been arrested.
The Tatmadaw acted deliberately and intentionally. This is a coup d’état. The fragile democracy in Myanmar is in tatters. Military personnel have become the new political leaders of the country. The military supporters and members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party and Buddhist nationalists jointly presented themselves as custodians of Buddhism in the 2020 General Elections, saying that the National League Democracy political party as being anti-Buddhism. Currently this joint force is patrolling the streets alongside uniformed soldiers and police to arrest, threaten and beat-up thousands of protesters in the streets. People in Myanmar are saying clearly that they do not wish to be under military rule as they had experienced it over 50 years (1962-2011). The Tatmadaw in the past had suppressed Buddhism, resulting in the 2007 Saffron Revolution, but now has an ally in the Buddhist Nationalists. Reports are coming in on protesters being arrested, beaten, tear-gassed and shot at across Myanmar, in Naypyidaw, Bago, Magway and Mandalay. MARUAH finds this new kinship between Buddhist nationalists and the military disconcerting as its puts into jeopardy the lives, safety and well-being of people of different religious beliefs amongst the 135 ethnic groups as well as the Rohingyas.
MARUAH also recalls the people’s experiences when the country was under successive military regimes. They were times of long imprisonments, solitary confinements, tortures, extreme poverty, starvation, lack of medical attention, low development, fear and distrust. In recent years we saw the persecution of the Rohingyas, many of whom fled the country. The track record of the past and current governments has been to uphold Myanmar’s sovereignty in the face regional and international interventions on human rights violations and to dismiss the UN reports as being biased and hypocritical. Universally, we presided over an impasse as a million refugees continued
to live in poor conditions and the incessant armed conflicts between the Tatmadaw and rebel forces, resulting in deaths, injuries, rapes and destructions of homes. MARUAH emphasises this blatant disregard shown by the Myanmar governments to abide by the Responsibility to Protect principles. MARUAH also deplores the indifference given to protecting people against Covid-19 in this planned coup.
MARUAH has been in solidarity with many civil society actors in expressing their deep concerns over this 10-day-old takeover. But we make this statement, appealing for a deeper cognizance of the character of the people in Myanmar and for actions to protect them. They are, by thousands, in the streets picking up the cudgels to fight for their democracy and to be governed by an elected government, not a military force that usurped the power. They are reaching out to the global community, risking their safety, to share detailed accounts on what is going on in the country.
We appreciate deeply the prompt response from our own government, Singapore, as well as statements from Association of Southeast Nations’ (ASEAN) leaders and the United Nations. We are particularly pleased that United States of America and New Zealand have declared that they will not recognise the new government of Myanmar. We have also noted reports emerging from both state-level and private sector investments and business partnerships in Myanmar. Based on the series of crimes against humanity over 50 years, the lack of culpability by the government of Myanmar, and the resilience of the people in Myanmar in fighting for their freedom and rights, MARUAH urges strongly that we cannot become witnesses to a blood bath in Myanmar. MARUAH asks for a deeper commitment, beyond the suggested meetings to seek negotiation and reconciliation with the Tatmadaw. We ask for a clear course of steps that underscore the unacceptability of this coup, the non-recognition of the Tatmadaw as the government and that economic partnerships be reviewed. To prevent an escalation into a civil war and to protect the people, we humbly make a call for governments, ASEAN and the UN, to:
fundamentally, focus on protecting the people of Myanmar whose security and freedom are under threat;
develop access routes on funding and prepare safe places as people are fleeing Myanmar to seek refuge in other countries;
ask for information on prisoners and their release;
ensure that people in Myanmar have an unfettered access to Internet and communication tools, with an understanding that social media platforms will suspend harbingers of ‘hate speeches’;
reaffirm the principles of democracy and fair play as a rule of law and conduct as prescribed in the ASEAN Charter and United Nations Declaration of Human Rights;
officially, not recognise the Tatmadaw as the government of Myanmar;
institute a process for an interim government of multi-stakeholder representatives, including some military officials to be set up;
institute a neutral and independent body of global experts on a fact-finding mission to ascertain if there was electoral fraudulence;
appoint a UN Special Rapporteur to investigate and document the human rights situation in Myanmar;
recommend UN bodies and International Criminal Court to issue an Inquiry on the Tatmadaw, based on charges of the coup d’etat and crimes against humanity;
review the nature of investments made in Myanmar and abide by the principles of ethical investing, ethical business conduct, and put in place targeted sanctions against the military and their partners’ enterprises;
impose an embargo on the arms trade into Myanmar;
build on an alliance with China to be a partner in non-recognition of the military-led government of Myanmar.
Issued by MARUAH Singapore.
About MARUAH Singapore
We are a Singapore human rights NGO.
MARUAH means Dignity in Malay, Singapore’s national language. Human rights are all about maintaining, restoring and reclaiming one’s dignity at the individual, regional and international level.
We seek to:
promote and raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of human rights and human rights and related issues at the national, regional and international levels, in Singapore, ASEAN and elsewhere
provide a civil society perspective on human rights and related issues at the national, regional, and international levels
advocate for and work towards the respect for and upholding of human rights in accordance with international and other norms
foster national, regional, and international co-ordination and development of all activities in relation to human rights and related issues facilitate the education, participation and
engagement of persons, groups and organisations in Singapore with respect to human rights and related issues.
MARUAH is also the Singapore focal point for the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism. The Working Group has national representatives from all of the founding Member States of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
The Working Group is an NGO officially recognised in the ASEAN Charter as a stakeholder in ASEAN.
On 1 February, the armed forces of Myanmar (Tatmadaw), ostensibly acting on allegations of voter fraud in the general elections of 8 November 2020, detained numerous government officials, including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, and Union Election Commission (UEC) Chair U Hla Thein, as well as pro-democracy activists and politicians from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and other parties.
The Tatmadaw subsequently announced that it would seize power, declare a one-year state of emergency, and install Vice-President and retired general U Myint Swe as acting president. It was also announced that new elections would be held after the state of emergency under a new election commission, which was later appointed on the night of 2 February.
The undersigned election or human rights monitoring organizations condemn the military coup in Myanmar and call for the immediate release of all detained politicians, government officials, and activists. The Tatmadaw must restore power to the civilian-led government, and seek redress of election-related complaints through the due process of law established under the 2008 Constitution.
Indeed, Myanmar’s Constitution and election laws provide a mechanism to resolve disputes in the form of election tribunals. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which has repeatedly made claims of vote rigging and irregularities in the recent general elections, has like any other stakeholder the legal right to formally contest election results. It certainly has done so, filing 174 complaints out of the 287 received by the UEC.
Election observers were looking forward to seeing all election-related complaints and potential evidence presented and addressed in tribunal proceedings. According to our information, the UEC was about to proceed with the appointment of election tribunals when the military intervened. Election dispute resolution is an integral part of any electoral process, which rests on the fundamental premise that all sides act in good faith.
Therefore, the Tatmadaw must back down from its coup attempt and instead engage in a peaceful and transparent election dispute resolution process. The road to a fully realized democracy is long and arduous, but it is important that all stakeholders commit to upholding and protecting democratic norms. A repeat of what transpired after the 1990 general elections would mark a stark return to authoritarianism and will not be accepted by the people of Myanmar and the international community.
Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
Association for Elections and Democracy (PERLUDEM), Indonesia
Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID)
Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Sri Lanka
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Sri Lanka
Citizen Congress Watch (CCW), Taiwan
Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), Malaysia
Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC)
Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
East and Horn of Africa Election Observers Network (E-HORN)
Elections Observation Group (ELOG), Kenya
Free and Fair Election Forum (FEFA), Afghanistan
Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), Pakistan
General Election Observation Committee (GEOC)/Nepal Law Society
Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM)
Hong Kong Election Observation Project (HKEOP)
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia
Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP), Indonesia
Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih untuk Rakyat (JPPR), Indonesia
Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), Philippines
MARUAH (Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)
Movement for Free & Fair Elections (MDDE), Sri Lanka
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Philippines
National Election Observation Committee (NEOC), Nepal
National Election Watch Sierra Leone (NEWSL)
Neutral & Impartial Committee for Free & Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-NET), Thailand
People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center), Cambodia
People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Sri Lanka
Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)
Transparency International Cambodia
Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA)
We Watch, Thailand
West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON)
Women for Social Progress (WSP), Mongolia
Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), Cambodia
The Secretary-General strongly condemns the detention of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other political leaders on the eve of the opening session of Myanmar’s new Parliament. He expresses his grave concern regarding the declaration of the transfer of all legislative, executive and judicial powers to the military. These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar.
The 8 November 2020 general elections provide a strong mandate to the National League for Democracy (NLD), reflecting the clear will of the people of Myanmar to continue on the hard-won path of democratic reform. The Secretary-General urges the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar and adhere to democratic norms, with any differences to be resolved through peaceful dialogue. All leaders must act in the greater interest of Myanmar’s democratic reform, engaging in meaningful dialogue, refraining from violence and fully respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Secretary-General reaffirms the unwavering support of the United Nations to the people of Myanmar in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law.
Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
ASEAN Member States have been closely following the current developments in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
We recall the purposes and the principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, including, the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We reiterate that the political stability in ASEAN Member States is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN Community.
We encourage the pursuance of dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.
Chairperson of the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
20 January 2021
Subject: Open letter from civil society organizations concerning the current tensions and conflicts and the situation of local people affected by war in ceasefire area in Karen State in Southeastern Myanmar
Dear President U Win Myint, and State Counsellor and Chairperson of the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
In relation to the above mentioned matter, we, the undersigned (172) civil society organizations and networks, are gravely concerned and would like to sincerely request you to immediately take action and resolve the tensions and conflicts between the Myanmar Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) under the control of the Karen National Union (KNU). The increasing armed engagements between the two armed actors have displaced almost 4,000 people who have been forced to flee their homes and taking shelter in adjacent areas in Hpapun, Thaton and Nyaunglaypin Districts during this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December 2020, we learned that the Myanmar Tatmadaw ignored the provisions contained within the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and began to expand the presence of its troops in Hpapun District and other areas designated under the KNU’s control, creating tension between the Myanmar Tatmadaw and the KNU, resulting in armed clashes breaking out between the Mae Wei based Myanmar Tatmadaw troops and a battalion of KNLA troops (under KNU control), since 1 December. Over 3,000 civilians have had to flee to avoid the fighting in Hpapun District as the Myanmar Tatmadaw troops shelled in areas where villagers were working for their livelihoods, including inside and outside villages. In addition, on 12 January 2021, the Infantry Battalion 404 of the Myanmar Tatmadaw shelled Mae Cho Village Tract in Hpapun District killing a 35-year-old village chief. Furthermore, on 15 January, an 11-year-old boy was seriously injured as the Light Infantry Battalion 339 of the Myanmar Tatmadaw intentionally continued its artillery shelling of Mae Wei Village in Hpapun District. The boy is now receiving medical treatment. We call on the government to bring justice for those who have suffered casualties and to ensure that such incidents do not take place again.
At present, we have learned that the tensions between the two groups are rising, leading to deterioration of trust. We believe that an end to tensions and fighting between the two sides is difficult, particularly if the Myanmar Tatmadaw continues its military movements in KNU designated areas in contravention of the NCA.
In addition, 790 villagers from four villages in Nyaunglaypin District have had to flee to avoid the ongoing fighting between the KNU troops and the Myanmar Tatmadaw since 28 December 2020, as the Myanmar Tatmadaw entered into KNU designated territories. On 19 January, a 41-year-old man was injured by the artillery shelling of the Light Infantry Battalion 603 of the Myanmar Tatmadaw in Pae Kaw Hkee Village in Kyaukkyi Township. We have learned that villagers are especially concerned that this will lead to the expansion of armed clashes in the region as the Myanmar Tatmadaw have reinforced their troops in KNU controlled areas in Hpapun and Nyaunglaypin Districts since December 2020. We are particularly concerned of the continued displacement of ethnic people at a time when the country is striving for national reconciliation and long-lasting peace in the pursuit of a genuine federal democratic country.
Upon observing the catalyst for such conflict and tensions between the NCA signatories – an ethnic armed organization, the KNU, and the Myanmar Tatmadaw – we have found that the Myanmar Tatmadaw broke the NCA as they have taken positions and expanded deployment, giving different excuses, including in the name of development projects. Therefore, we call on the government, elected by the people, to look towards national reconciliation and genuine sustainable peace, and to immediately implement the calls made by more than 10,000 villagers from 12 villages in Luthaw Township who protested on 30 December 2020, to stop the Myanmar Tatmadaw from invading the KNU controlled territories and expanding its forces in contravention of the NCA’s agreements, among other calls.
In our country, civil war has been raging for more than 70 years and it is still far from the genuine peace that our people aspire to today. Furthermore, we believe that the Myanmar Tatmadaw’s use of state funds to continue using military force across Myanmar, particularly in ethnic areas is inappropriate and leads us further astray from peace.
In the time of conflict, women and children are the most vulnerable to human rights violations, including sexual violence, and their rights to education and healthcare can be impacted. As Myanmar is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Myanmar is obligated to protect the rights of women and children in line with these conventions.
Finally, it is our belief that the armed conflicts in ethnic areas in Myanmar and its root causes are political in nature and must be solved by political means. To solve this political issue via political means, we, the undersigned civil society organizations, would like to respectfully call on the President and State Counsellor to develop political opportunities and means of solution, as well as to withdraw and stop the expanding deployment and occupation of the Myanmar Tatmadaw in ethnic areas.
On the eighth anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, we, the undersigned organizations, reiterate our calls on the government of Laos to reveal his fate and whereabouts, and to investigate all allegations of enforced disappearances in the country to bring those responsible to justice in fair trials.
The government’s ongoing failure to thoroughly, independently, and impartially investigate the cases of Sombath and other alleged victims of enforced disappearance is compounded by its total lack of commitment to address this issue.
In June 2020, during the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Laos at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the government refused to accept all five recommendations calling for an adequate investigation into Sombath’s enforced disappearance. The government also refused to accept another eight recommendations calling for investigations into all cases of alleged enforced disappearance.
Despite the government accepting that “the search for missing Lao citizens, including Sombath Somphone, is the duty of the Lao government”, it failed to demonstrate any will to effectively execute or fulfill this duty. The government stated that investigations into cases of enforced disappearances were “considered on a case by case basis,” but did not reveal how many investigations it had conducted, for which cases, or any updates on developments in the alleged investigations. It also failed to provide any information about its efforts to determine the fate and whereabouts of Sombath Somphone.
In addition, the government failed to further commit to ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance – a treaty that Laos signed in September 2008.
We renew our call for the establishment of an independent and impartial investigative body tasked with determining Sombath’s fate and whereabouts. The new body should receive international technical assistance in order to conduct a professional and effective investigation in accordance with international standards.
We also urge the Lao government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance without delay, incorporate its provisions into the country’s legal framework, implement it in practice, and recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of the victims in accordance with Article 31 of the Convention.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with all victims of enforced disappearance in Laos and their families, and we will not stop demanding that all their cases be independently, impartially, and effectively investigated, and the perpetrators of such a serious crime be identified and held accountable in fair trials, regardless of their rank or status.
Sombath was disappeared, but our combined determination to seek truth, justice, and reparations for his enforced disappearance will never go away. Our commitment is as strong today as it was eight years ago. We are still asking “Where is Sombath?”
Sombath was last seen at a police checkpoint on a busy street of the Lao capital, Vientiane, on the evening of 15 December 2012. Footage from a CCTV camera showed that Sombath’s vehicle was stopped at the police checkpoint and that, within minutes, unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove him away in the presence of police officers. CCTV footage also showed an unknown individual driving Sombath’s vehicle away from the city center. The presence of police officers at Sombath’s abduction and their failure to intervene strongly indicates state agents’ participation in Sombath’s enforced disappearance.
Lao authorities have repeatedly claimed they have been investigating Sombath’s enforced disappearance but have failed to disclose any new findings to the public since 8 June 2013. They have neither met with Sombath’s wife, Shui Meng Ng, nor provided her with any updates on their investigation into his case since December 2017. Relatives of people who are forcibly disappeared are themselves victims of enforced disappearance and have the right to a remedy for violations of international human rights law. They frequently suffer harm, including mental anguish and material consequences, which may amount to torture or other ill-treatment.
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED)
Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights
Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines
Center for Prisoners’ Rights
Civil Rights Defenders
CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network)
Commonwealth human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
Cross Cultural Foundation
Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF)
Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos
FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
Focus on the Global South
Four Freedoms Forum
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)
Human Rights Watch
International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances
International Commission of Jurists
Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw)
Justice for Iran
Justice for Peace Foundation
Lao Movement for Human Rights
League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)