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UN General Assembly resolution must keep the spotlight on serious human rights violations

21 October 2014

New York, Paris, Bangkok, 21 October 2014 - A UN General Assembly’s Third Committee resolution must continue to address serious human rights violations in Burma, FIDH and its member organization Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma) urged Permanent Missions to the UN during a visit by an FIDH-organized to New-York.

The delegation, led by FIDH Secretary-General and ALTSEAN-Burma Coordinator Debbie Stothard, included Burmese human rights defenders Wai Wai Nu, Director of the Women Peace Network - Arakan, and Zarni, Officer-in-charge of International Relations for the Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF).

A strong UN General Assembly resolution is needed to prevent Burma from further backsliding on human rights, said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. If the Burmese government wants to end the UN General Assembly’s scrutiny of the country’s human rights record, it must stop ignoring its recommendations.

In connection with the upcoming debate on the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee resolution on Burma, FIDH and ALTSEAN-Burma released a joint briefer that summarizes human rights developments in Burma since last year’s resolution.

Burmese authorities have failed to protect ethnic and religious minorities from serious human rights violations and made no significant progress with regard to key legislative and institutional reforms. This failure has effectively blocked any progress towards genuine democracy and national reconciliation,” said Debbie Stothard.

Over the past year, Burma’s military has continued attacks against civilians in Kachin and Shan States amid nationwide ceasefire negotiations. The human rights and humanitarian situation in Arakan State has deteriorated.

At least 137,000 people, mostly Rohingya, remain confined to squalid IDP camps following the 2012 communal unrest. In late March-early April, Naypyidaw excluded Rohingya from its first nationwide census in more than 30 years. In early October, it emerged that the government planned to detain Rohingya in permanent camps unless they agreed to identify themselves as ‘Bengali’ as part of an ongoing ‘citizenship assessment’ process.

In 2014, authorities arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned scores of activists and human rights defenders. Approximately 80 political prisoners remain behind bars and more than 100 activists await trials on various charges. The country has witnessed a resurgence of media repression with the arrest and imprisonment of at least 14 media professionals under oppressive and outdated laws.

The government has also failed to adequately address decades of land confiscation by civilian and military authorities. Those protesting land confiscation and large-scale development projects were frequently arrested or imprisoned. In 2014, at least 120 farmers were jailed for peaceful protests, mostly related to land confiscation.