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20th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council Item 4: Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention – General Debate (Burma & Sri Lanka)

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Oral Statement Delivered by Ms. Pooja Patel on Behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Thank you, Madame President. FORUM-ASIA expresses its concern at the lack of any substantial progress made by the Sri Lankan government in implementing the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations. The government outlined to this Council on 18 June 2012 that several actions were undertaken “within the rubric of reconciliation”, yet we stress there must be a concrete action plan on the LLRC recommendations, which should be made fully public and debated in Parliament. We note that a Parliamentary Select Committee was set up in April however there remains a complete dearth of information regarding its work and functioning, including who its members are. Furthermore, we remain distressed over the forcible acquisition of lands in the former conflict zones by the military and the consequent ill-treatment faced by displaced families who express their grievances in this regard, such as the assaults faced by protesting Tamil families in Thirumurikandi on 25 June 2012. Meanwhile, the government has yet to demonstrate their genuine cooperation with the UN human rights mechanisms, particularly none of the communications sent by several Special Rapporteurs have been responded to (A/HRC/20/30). We urge the government to accept the outstanding country visit requests made by a number of Special Procedures mandate holders without delay, particularly the Working Group on enforced and involuntary disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Madam President, we continue to urge this Council not to lose sight of the grave situations of human rights in Burma/Myanmar. Since the State army and security forces broke its 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army in April 2011, civilians in Kachin and northern Shan states have been targeted with extrajudicial executions, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, torture, forced labor, and the confiscation and destruction of property.[1] We reiterate that genuine democratization and reconciliation must be bolstered with accountability for gross human rights violations. In this line, we stress that the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) still has a long way to go before it can be considered an effective institution to carry out impartial investigations into allegations of human rights abuses. Thus, it is imperative that any assistance programmes for the MNHRC go beyond capacity development of staff in order to consider the necessary structural changes that are crucial for its credibility.[2] The government must immediately work on the review and reform of the repressive legislations and legal provisions as identified by the Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/19/67). Finally, Madame President, FORUM-ASIA is alarmed by the violent unrest in Arakan state where 62 people have reportedly died and 90,000 people have been displaced.[3] We appeal to the international community to act with resolve in providing adequate protection for those fleeing the conflict. We also urge the government to address the deep-seated discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities as well as the laws that perpetuate it such as the 1982 Citizenship Act. Thank you, Madame President.

[1] Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, “Ongoing Impunity: Continued Burma Army Atrocities Against the Kachin People”, 8 June 2012,

[2] Burma Partnership, “EU Programme to Help the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Must Ensure Substantive Changes”, 29 May 2012,

[3] ALTSEAN-Burma, “Unrest in Burma’s Arakan State: A Chronology of Events”, 26 June 2012,

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