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Human Rights Council, Geneva, UK Statement on Myanmar

The UK delivers a statement on the human rights situation in Myanmar during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Ms Yanghee Lee,16 March 2015.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

View of the HRC conference room at UN

The HRC takes place at the Palais des Nations, Geneva

We thank Ms Lee for her commitment to improving human rights in Burma, including her recent report with its constructive recommendations. We also welcome the access she has been granted by the Government.

Ms Lee’s report highlights encouraging progress made by the Government. We welcome improvements in recent years, including releases of political prisoners, the signature of ceasefire agreements, and the easing of media restrictions.

But we remain concerned about many continuing challenges, notably infringements of civil and political rights, and ongoing violence in Ethnic states. We urge the Government to redouble efforts to ensure the elections later this year are credible, inclusive and conducted in an environment which guarantees freedom of expression and of assembly and association.

We remain concerned by ongoing conflict in Kachin and Shan. We are particularly concerned by reports of human rights violations including sexual violence. We urge the government of Burma to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses, while working towards political dialogue and national reconciliation.

The situation in Rakhine continues to be a serious concern. While we welcomed the return of Médecins Sans Frontières, humanitarian access and the provision of healthcare remain far below what is needed. We reiterate the SR’s call to the government to quickly work to ensure full access for humanitarian agencies.

We remain clear that the plight of the Rohingya will not be solved until a long term solution to the issue of their citizenship is found. We reiterate the SR’s calls for steps to address this issue to be taken without delay. An inclusive political settlement must be found that protects the rights of all in Rakhine, and which allows self-identification. Finally, we deplore the hateful and abusive language used by a prominent monk against Ms Lee following her recent visit. Such abuse and intimidation of human rights defenders emphasises the need for the Burmese government to work to strengthen respect for universal human rights and tackle hate speech.

We ask:

  1. How can the international community best ensure that the democratic space in Burma remains open until and during the elections?
  2. What opportunities do the elections offer to find a long-term resolution to the situation in Rakhine?
Published 19 March 2015