United Nations, Geneva
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONCLUDES DEBATE ON ECONOMIC RIGHTS, TAKES UP CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
Commission on Human Rights
11 April 2002
The Commission on Human Rights completed this morning its annual discussion of economic, social and cultural rights, hearing from a series of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) contending, among other things, that efforts to combat poverty were not receiving sufficient support from the international community and from the richer nations of the world. Several NGOs called for rapid development of a draft optional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cutural Rights that would allow complaints of violations of such rights to be filed by individuals.
Speaking at the morning session were representatives of Himilayan Research and Cultural Foundation; Internfaith International; Medecins du Monde; International Association for Non-Aligned Studies; International Organization for the Development of Freedom of Education; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development; International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development; Asian Legal Resource Centre; Colombian Commission of Jurists; Pax Romana; Association Tunisienne pour l’auto developpement et la solidarite; Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees; International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; Liberal International; Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”; Society for Threatened Peoples; Women’s International Democratic Federation; International Fellowship of Reconciliation; American Association of Jurists; International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples; Habitat International Coalition; Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples; International Institute for Peace; Indigenous World Association; International Council of AIDS Service Organizations; and International Human Rights Law Group.
ASMIN FRANSISKA, of the Asian Legal Resource Centre, said on 29 November 2001, Dr. Salao Tun Than appeared in front of Yangon Town Hall, Myanmar, in his academic gown. There he began handing out a petition calling for the military Government of Myanmar to step down and allow for multi-party elections within one year. Within minutes he was taken away by members of the security forces. He had since been held in prison. He was now seventy-four years old. Dr. Salai Tun Than was an agricultural scientist who had devoted his life to the rural development of Myanmar. His arrest reinforced the validity of previous statements made by the Centre. It exposed the regime’s rhetorical pretensions towards economic and social development as fraudulent. It also demonstrated the patent absurdity of an authoritarian military Government talking about fundamental economic rights first, democratization later.