Burma: Human Rights Commission fails to act on religious riots
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Burma: Human Rights Commission fails to act on religious riots

The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) issued Statement No. 2/2013 on the conflict in Kachin State Thursday, The New Light of Myanmar said today.

The Commission said in its statement that the Union Peace-Making Committee and KIO delegation were able to issue a joint statement at the peace talks held at Shweli (Ruili) of the Peoples’ Republic of China on 11-12 March 2013.  It also said that constructive and positive developments were achieved through the talks.  The MNHRC earnestly welcomed the statement that the Union Government plans to speed up development and rehabilitation tasks in the Kachin State since the procedure to reach cease-fire has started under the said joint statement.

The MNHRC said that it has continually followed the increase of the armed conflict in Kachin State. It is a pity that the displaced persons have been in an increasingly hopelessness situation as the armed conflict continues endlessly. The Commission said that it visited Kachin State two times, once in December 2011 and the other in July 2012. It has attempted coordinating with the concerned parties and contributed to the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the internal displaced persons (IDPs).

In addition, in its statements issued in connection with the conflict in the Kachin State, the Commission strongly recommended that it is essential to remove anti-personnel mines before the resettlement of the IDPs. Operation on removal of anti-personnel mines should be carried out by armed groups, and relevant domestic and foreign organizations.  Villagers should be educated on landmines when demining is undertaken, the MNHRC advised.

The Commission also said that armed groups should not under any circumstances commit human rights violations on the local inhabitants. It also suggested there should be no forced recruitment of new soldiers by all armed groups.  The issue of humanitarian access and safe passage for humanitarian supplies should be undertaken.

In conclusion, the MNHRC’s statement said that in an attempt to lessen the sufferings of the IDPs and also to encourage further to the peace talks, the aforesaid recommendations of the MNRC should be implemented as a main concern.

Human Rights Watch criticizes Burma’s recently-formed National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which has not played an effective role in scrutinizing human rights violations in Kachin State. In February 2012, the commission’s chairman, Win Mra, said that the commission would not look into allegations of abuses in the country’s ethnic armed conflict areas due to the government’s efforts to negotiate ceasefires.

HRW has also made a recommendation to the parliament of Burma to pass legislation that would bring Burma’s NHRC in line with the Paris Principles on national human rights institutions in order to establish it as an independent and effective institution.

One serious question is why MNHRC fails to focus on the criminal riots in Meiktila town in Mandalay Division. At least, the commission should denounce the terrorists as they intentionally ignited the buildings and harmed citizens. President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in Meikhtila in an announcement broadcast on state television on 22 March afternoon. The declaration allows the military to take over administrative functions in and around the town, according to AP News.


Homeless victims following riots occurred between Buddhists and Muslims in Meikhtila, Mandalay division, Myanmar/Burma,Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP / Khin Maung Win)

The United Nations human rights expert Thursday called on the Government of Myanmar to take urgent steps to tackle the prejudice and discrimination fueling violence and destruction between Muslim and Buddhist communities, as said by the UN News Center.

“The Government must take immediate action to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country and undermining the reform process,” said Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar/Burma.

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged the President’s televised address to the nation earlier yesterday for compassion, tolerance, understanding, and empathy amongst people of all faiths in Burma/Myanmar.

He called on other institutions such as Parliament, the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission to play their role in protecting constitutionally guaranteed rights, including freedom of religion, as well as the need to include civil society and political parties to tackle prejudice and discrimination.

Coincidently, ‘Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar’ was released by United Nations Human Rights Council on March 19, 2013.

The UNHRC expresses concern about remaining human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, forced displacement, land confiscations, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, and urges the Government of Myanmar to step up its efforts to put an end to such violations and to take necessary measures to ensure accountability and end impunity, including by undertaking a full, transparent and independent investigation into all reports of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, while also calling for proper investigations into detention and prison conditions and allegations of the use of torture in prisons.