BURMA: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

December 12, 2007


Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

Mr. Special Rapporteur

I speak on behalf of the Asian Legal Resource Centre.

You have rightly said of your most recent trip to Myanmar, following the protests of August and September, that it should be seen not as an end in itself but rather as an initial step. The questions that are now on everybody’s mind are what should be the next steps, and on what road?

Although the international community has known about the gravity and scale of human rights abuses in Myanmar for years, it has struggled to come up with effective responses.

A significant reason for the failure to make progress is that the human rights problems in Myanmar are not yet understood. Limits to understanding about what is really happening there have hampered the Council’s work.

Mr. Special Rapporteur

Among the recommendations in your new report is that the government of Myanmar “invite an international commission of inquiry… to investigate in a more comprehensive manner the recent events”.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre wholeheartedly supports this proposal.

Two issues that we believe must be investigated are the high number of forced disappearances, and the growing use of extralegal gangs of thugs, or Swan-arshin, to threaten, assault and detain citizens.

But beyond this, we must ask, how can the Council best enable you to go further into the systemic obstacles to human rights in Myanmar?

The Asian Legal Resource Centre has strongly recommended that a special study and strategy group be established to coordinate work among United Nations agencies and some other key international bodies that are active there.

We believe that this group would get much support from humanitarian organisations, who increasingly acknowledge that their work is greatly hampered by worsening abuses of human rights in the country.

We are convinced that such a group could take the work of the Special Rapporteur and other human rights mandates past the current level, and that the Council must show leadership to see it established.

Mr. Special Rapporteur

The Asian Legal Resource Centre is, like you, convinced of the imperative for work on human rights in Myanmar to be more than business as usual. It believes that presented with a new specific, determined and realistic proposal of this sort, the Council will be obliged to act more effectively at this critical juncture.

Thank you, Mr. Special Rapporteur.

Min Lwin on the situation in Burma: video

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About ALRC The Asian Legal Resource Centre holds general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at local and national levels throughout Asia.


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The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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