What Is the State of Human Rights in Myanmar?

Women entrepreneurs in Myanmar. Photo: UN, ILO
Women entrepreneurs in Myanmar. Photo: UN, ILO

A United Nations human rights expert urged Monday the international community rushing to forge or strengthen political or economic ties with Myanmar not to undermine the country’s rights priorities.

“International actors must continue to prioritize human rights, particularly in business and investment relations,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, at the end of a visit to Myanmar from 20 June to 1 July.

These actors should neither remain silent when confronted with human rights concerns nor become complicit in perpetuating human rights abuses, she said.

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“Myanmar’s young democracy can only advance if human rights are fully mainstreamed into its institutional, legal and policy framework,” the expert said. “Building a culture of respect for human rights must be a priority now and in the future.”

Ms. Lee visited Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, recommending that future political dialogues tackle the root causes of conflict and the long-standing grievances of ethnic communities.

Additionally, she called for an end to the institutionalized discrimination against the Muslim communities in Rakhine State.

“It is clear that tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society. Incidents of hate speech, incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence, and of religious intolerance continue to be a cause for concern,” Ms. Lee said.

The Special Rapporteur will present her report to the UN General Assembly in October 2016, which will include her observations and recommendations to the Government.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman