International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma


Thursday, March 30, 2017

FBR: Blessed are Those Who Mourn: A Volunteer Ranger Reflects on His Time in Iraq


Blessed are Those Who Mourn: A Volunteer Ranger Reflects on His Time in Iraq

29 March 2017

Mosul, Iraq

This piece was written by a recent volunteer from the U.S. Riley is a former US Army Ranger qualified Infantry officer preparing to go to medical school. He helped FBR at both JSMK and in Iraq.


An Iraqi Federal Police E.R.D. Medic walks down the hall of the school-turned-emergency care center.
An Iraqi Federal Police E.R.D. Medic walks down the hall of the school-turned-emergency care center.

It was January 4th, 2017. I found myself in a school in Intisar district of Mosul, Iraq, during a major offensive to reclaim the city from the rule of ISIS. Throughout the day, we saw around forty patients, soldiers and civilians alike. We witnessed people hurt, mutilated, and killed constantly for several days; the continuous flow of new patients never seemed to cease.

That day, amongst the flow of people with gunshot wounds, injuries from explosions, and patients with severe burns, came a patient whose heart stopped beating while I attempted to stop a serious bleed from his femoral artery. I attempted CPR, but after about ten minutes of CPR, adrenaline, and breathing for the man, I realized his situation was hopeless; we didn't the capability to restore the blood to his body, or to start his heart again. The nearest place that this could even be attempted was a forty-five minute bumpy and dangerous ambulance ride with little chance that the hospital would even try to save him. I stopped CPR.

With my stethoscope I listened to the silence in his chest, knowing that I would not hear life's wonderful rhythm restored. After about a minute of listening to the dead silence, I closed his eyes and asked for a body bag. As they placed his body into the body bag, and covered his expressionless face, I could only ask one question; why? Why did this man have to die? What is the meaning of this and why am I even here?

They took the body bag to a corner of the classroom we were working in. I knelt by his body and prayed. But all I felt was coldness. A chilling hatred for the evil brought upon these people ran down my spine and worse still, I felt helpless to face it. I was overcome by grief; how could I ever have another patient die without losing my sanity? I wept bitterly in my helplessness, crying out to God that I was not ready to bear the burden of being a physician and accompanying people in their deaths for the rest of my life. I felt like I could do it no longer.

At that moment a family arrived whose home was hit by an airstrike. Five ISIS militants were seen entering their home and the Iraqi Air Force decided on utilizing an airstrike in order to kill them all. The family fled the home, but as they were leaving a hellfire missile struck the building. Two of the sons, young men perhaps in their twenties, were dead on arrival at our location. I ran to one just to check, only to find an amputated hand and a cold, pale, expressionless face. Again I listened to the silence where once there was life with my stethoscope. But there were others to worry about; one daughter had sustained serious trauma from lethal chunks of metal flying through the air. Both parents were also injured. The father sat outside in complete shock, his eyes wide with sorrow and pain. Several of the dead men's brothers sat outside, wailing and weeping at their loss. The mother could not bear the site of her dead sons lying on a school table next to her as she was bandaged, and collapsed in shock and sorrow. I stood in the midst of this trying to help but instead I felt as though I was too weak to handle the work I was given.

Again, I felt utterly helpless. There was nothing I could do but retreat away from the chaos that seemed as though it would never end. I retreated to a school room down the hall from where we treated the patients. I prayed bitterly to God that I sensed my heart growing ever colder and that I could not bear the emotional burden of the deaths I had been present for earlier in the day. I had had a similar experience a month earlier in a small town outside of Mosul called Qaryat Shaharazad, but nothing like this. I had patients that I personally treated die before this day, but not so many in a single day, a single week, or even a single month. Already I had experienced more in two days than I had in eight years of on and off medical work. I felt emotionally frayed.

My future in mind, my natural sinful reaction to this feeling was to desensitize myself. If I felt too much emotion, I reasoned, it was better to feel none. But immediately God placed on my heart the conviction that I must resolve that at whatever psychological, emotional, or physical cost, I could not lose my compassion; as soon as I lose my love then I could not possibly have God's love. My prayer changed. I asked God to restore my compassion, to be with me in the hard moments, and to never be afraid to suffer with those who are also suffering.

Almost as soon as I said "Amen," I was summoned back to the room where we were treating patients. A man had arrived with his son, who had a severed femoral artery, a large wound to the chest, and a piece of his skull missing. The man had worked at Salam hospital in Mosul for 28 years as an E.R. tech, and was familiar with cardiac emergencies and had begun trying to resuscitate his own son. As if the father of the boy did not exist, nobody else came to help him. As soon as he saw me, he implored me to come and help, and to give his son adrenaline, saying over and over again, "Adrenaline! Adrenaline!"

I already knew his son was dead. But that moment it occurred to me that the father would not give up, and neither should I. An Iraqi medic came and joined the CPR. I started an I.V. while his father performed CPR and gave him a dose of adrenaline. I asked the father to use the bag valve mask while I performed chest compressions. I began compressions, praying for a miracle in the rhythm. I placed a small tube, called a nasopharyngeal airway, into his nose; the most advanced airway we had on hand. I gave him another dose of adrenaline. We continued to try to breath for his son and pump his blood for almost thirty minutes. Instead of stopping, I continued on; this time, his father looked at me as if to ask, "Is he dead?"

Riley's medical bag rests outside the school they used as a emergency care center, ready to go and help if needed. The blood of several patients pools on the ground nearby.
Riley's medical bag rests outside the school they used as a emergency care center, ready to go and help if needed. The blood of several patients pools on the ground nearby.

I knew at that moment the father wanted for me to decide when to stop. But I did not until he prompted me. For a third time that day I stopped and listened to the silence where once there was life. I looked at the boy's father and shook my head. Frantically the father began to try to breath for his son again until I looked at him and said, "He's dead. There's no more we can do."

A single tear streamed from one of the father's eyes. He had held his composure up until this moment, but was beginning to lose it. He knelt down and kissed his son, not caring about the blood and vomit. He looked up, and impulsively he grabbed me and kissed me on the right cheek three times. He held me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and in English said, "Thank you for trying. I didn't want to let go. I lost my son, but I love you like a son. Thank you for trying."

It was all I could do to not cry. God only wants us to try, and when we try, to do it in faith. In the words of one of my role models, a wonderful physician that works for F.B.R., "Who are we to define God's purposes? We can only do our best, and stumble along."

The boy's father and I stood holding each other as the Iraqi medics placed his son in a body bag. And with that, he fully lost his composure. He fell into my chest and wept and wept into my sweater, as I held him.

"I worked in Salam Hospital for 28 years. I have never been so sad in my life."

I sat him down and offered to pray. He accepted, and together we prayed that Jesus would restore the world to peace, that He would shatter the spear, break the bow, and burn shields with fire, and shed His wonderful mercy, grace, and love on the whole earth.

Again, he told me that he loved me like a son. And I told him I loved him like a father. We embraced, and they loaded his son's body on an ambulance to take him to the morgue. The father departed with his son's body. I never learned the father's name or that of his son. But as he left I heard the voice of Jesus preaching the most beautiful sermon ever preached ringing strongly in my ears, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

The truth is that in that moment that boy was my brother, and that man was indeed my father. Only Jesus in me could allow me to love someone I hardly knew so deeply.

All this fighting, all this killing, all this death, and all this destruction. It has an end. And we have hope that Jesus will bring it to an end soon. All we can do is our best, and stumble along, hoping that He works out His ways as we follow after Him.


Love one another
Unite for freedom, justice and peace
Forgive and do not hate each other
Pray with faith, Act with courage
Never surrender

The Free Burma Rangers’ (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under the oppression of the Burma Army. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive Burmese military attacks.

For more information, please visit www.freeburmarangers.org

© 2017 Free Burma Rangers | Contact FBR

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Weekly Highlight: UN-Mandated Fact-Finding Mission a Historic Opportunity for Human Rights Progress in Myanmar

    

 

UN-Mandated Fact-Finding Mission a Historic Opportunity for Human Rights Progress in Myanmar

The investigators must provide a full report by next year

Photo credit: Soe Zeya Tun/ Reuters

 

 

In a historic move last week, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) decided to dispatch a Fact-Finding Mission to investigate allegations of grave human rights abuses in Myanmar,[1] particularly in Rakhine State. The draft resolution containing the call was adopted by consensus in the Council, following weeks of intense advocacy in Geneva by civil society groups, including Progressive Voice. While the Council opted for a more ambiguous mechanism—a Fact-Finding Mission rather than the Commission of Inquiry that was explicitly pushed for—there is ample room for this body to step up to the challenge of establishing the truth of circumstances on the ground and making robust recommendations to the Council and the Myanmar Government. "As the first international body with a dedicated mandate to look into gross violations in Burma/Myanmar," said Khin Ohmar, Chair of the Advisory Board at Progressive Voice, "the Fact-Finding Mission has a historic task and an enormous responsibility."

 

And while attaining this mandate was difficult, the road ahead is even more so.

 

In the coming weeks, per the resolution, the HRC President will need to swiftly appoint a group of experts to carry out the mission. The group will have five months before it's due to present its first update at the 36th Session of the Council in September 2017. In the backdrop of competing agendas, it's imperative that the President structures the Mission in an independent, transparent, and merit-based manner. The Mission itself must ensure that the allegations are comprehensively addressed, including by investigating abuses in Kachin and Shan States as well as in Rakhine State.

 

The larger concern is that cooperation from the Myanmar Government seems dubious. While it stopped short of pledging to block the investigation, the government has declared its dissociation from the resolution "as a whole." Arguing that an international fact-finding mission would "do more to inflame, rather than resolve the issues," the government reiterated its commitment to domestic investigations, vowing to set out a "clear action plan for the prompt implementation" of the interim report of the domestically mandated Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. But, as all its domestic commissions have been consistently dogged with problematic methods and composition, the government's proclamations must be met with skepticism. Recent efforts look even more unpromising, with reports that surfaced last week from Bangladesh claiming that members of a domestic commission refused to seriously engage with their Rohingya interviewees.

 

Furthermore, while it's yet unclear what dissociating from the resolution would entail, the claim to dissociate "as a whole" is particularly concerning as it puts into question the viability of other decisions and recommendations made in the resolution, including the renewal of mandate for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. While attention was concentrated on the contentious clause of establishing the Fact-Finding Mission, it's important for both the international community and the Myanmar Government not to neglect the rest of the resolution, which makes key recommendations on areas such as amendment of the 2008 Constitution and repressive laws, humanitarian access, reform of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, the voluntary and sustainable return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, and investigations of the murders of human rights defenders, including constitutional expert and senior legal advisor to the National League for Democracy (NLD), U Ko Ni. Recognizing and supporting these calls is also part of a comprehensive effort to bring forth accountability and justice in the country.

 

Going forward, the NLD-led Government should view the UN-mandated probe as an ally, rather than a destabilizing factor, in its struggle with the military. This is an excellent opportunity for the government to distinguish itself from the military and to start seriously tackling impunity in the country. Furthermore, while there is broad consensus that the alleged human rights abuses are committed by the Myanmar Army, failing to cooperate with the Fact-Finding Mission would implicate the NLD-led Government in the eyes of the international community. Moreover, if the situation on the ground really is inconsistent with the gravity of the allegations made, as the government has previously claimed, an international investigation would only help its case.

 

In this period of uncertainty, it's evermore incumbent on the international community to support the implementation of the HRC resolution. Unfortunately, several HRC member states, including China, India, and ASEAN member the Philippines, have chosen to dissociate themselves from at least the operative clauses of the resolution. Others must not waver. For governments concerned about regional stability ensuring an independent, impartial investigation into grave human rights abuses in Myanmar will help bring about genuine stability in the country, and thus the region. For democratic governments that want to see a democratic, prosperous Myanmar, support for the resolution, especially its operative clauses, is crucial to helping the NLD-led Government bring the country under civilian control.

 

The Myanmar Government, still finding its footing within the framework set by the 2008 military-drafted constitution, has proven to be unreliable in carrying out credible investigations. Its categorical dissociation from the HRC resolution—which makes numerous recommendations that are in line with ones made by its own domestic bodies—shows just how inconsistent the government line can be. In this light, Myanmar civil society must also step up and urge the Myanmar Government to cooperate with the UN mandate, as well as call on international governments to provide political and logistical support to UN-backed efforts. The historic nature of this UN mandate and the opportunities that it creates cannot be wasted.

 


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term 'Myanmar' in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of 'Myanmar' rather than 'Burma' without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten.

 

 

 

 

STATEMENTS AND PRESS RELEASES

 

ရွမ္းျပည္ေျမာက္ပုိင္းရွိ နမၼတူျမစ္ေပၚ တည္ေဆာက္မည့္ ေရကာတာမ်ားကုိ ရပ္တန္႔ေပးရန္အတြက္ ေဒသခံရြာသူရြာသား ၄၀၀ ေက်ာ္ စုေ၀းေတာင္းဆုိ

By Action for Shan State Rivers        

 

Over 400 Local Villagers Gather to Call for Halt of Dams on Namtu River in Northern Shan State

By Action for Shan State Rivers

 

Myanmar: Fact-finding Mission Welcome, Urgently Needed, Overdue
By Amnesty International


Burma: UN Establishes Human Rights Investigation in Rakhine State
By Christian Solidarity Worldwide

 

Myanmar: U.N. Orders Vital Inquiry into Severe Rights Violations
By Fortify Rights

 

HRC34 Oral Statement on the Importance of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI)

By FORUM-ASIA

 

UN Human Rights Council Decides to Urgently Dispatch an International Fact Finding Mission to Burma/Myanmar
By FORUM-ASIA, Progressive Voice, Kachin Women's Association Thailand, Women Peace Network Arakan, Ta'ang Women's Organization      

 

Cracks in the Silence: Sexual Violence Against Children and Challenges to Accessing Justice in Mon State and Mon Areas of Southeast Burma
By Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) and Women and Child Rights Project   

 

Burma: UN Takes Key Step for Justice

By Human Rights Watch


Myanmar: Amnesty International Oral Statement at the 34th Session of the UN Human RigND-Burma Statement on the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims Council

By ND-Burma       

 

အမ်ဳိးသမီးမ်ားအဖဲြ႔ခ်ဳပ္(ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ)၏ န၀မအႀကိမ္ညီလာခံထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္

By Women's League of Burma   

 

Statement of the Ninth Congress of Women's League of Burma

By Women's League of Burma

 

 

REPORTS

 

ခြဲျခားဆက္ဆံမႈမ်ားကင္းေ၀းရာမွ အားလံုးအလံုးစံုပါ၀င္မႈဆီသို ့--ႏိုင္ငံေရးစကား၀ိုင္းအေၾကာင္းအရာမ်ားအေပၚ က်ား၊ မ ေရးရာ ဂ်ဲန္ဒါ အျမင္ရႈေထာင့္မ်ား

By Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process   

 

Moving from Discrimination to Inclusion: Gender Perspectives on the Political Dialogue Themes

By Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process          

 

Cracks in the Silence: Sexual Violence Against Children and Challenges to Accessing Justice in Mon State and Mon Areas of Southeast Burma
By Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) and Women and Child Rights Project

 

 

 

About Progressive Voice

 

Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 the same day that Progressive Voice was formally established. For further information, please see our press release "Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice."

     




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Monday, March 27, 2017

FBR: JSMK Graduation: Welcoming 22 New Medics


JSMK Graduation: Welcoming 22 New Medics

March 27, 2017

This year's proud new medics
This year’s proud new medics

On Friday, March 3rd, 2017, another graduating class from FBR's Jungle School of Medicine-Kawthoolei (JSMK) crossed the stage of the main classroom and received their certificates from their instructors. This is the sixth graduating class of JSMK.
In attendance were various staff members and their families, as well as leaders from surrounding villages. A total of 22 students completed 15 months of studies and practicum and passed the final exam, earning the right to graduate. Saw Silverhorn was the master of ceremonies and Dr. John Shaw delivered the commencement address. He commissioned the graduates to use their skills on FBR missions and in the village as well as to ask their leaders for opportunities to implement their training in Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) clinics. He also shared his thoughts on the tireless and often unnoticed work of medics; he encouraged them to continue learning, reviewing their textbooks and keeping their knowledge fresh by using their skills.
Along with their certificates, the students received medical instruments donated by MDF, a medical instruments company. These included a new stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, a reflex hammer and an examination light. These tools will help empower the students to maintain their clinical skills as they return to their respective villages.

Dr. John Shaw and a graduate
Dr. John Shaw and a graduate

Awards were given to the following students:
1st in class: (tie) Saw Kya Heh & Naw Sa Hay Blut
2nd in class: Saw Soe Wei Wei
3rd in class: Naw Htee Moo Paw
Staff Consensus of the Best Overall Student: Naw Sa Hay Blut
Student Who Most Helped Staff Children Learn Bible Verses and Songs: Naw Ray Lo Paw

unnamed (1) unnamed (2) unnamed (3) unnamed

 


Love one another
Unite for freedom, justice and peace
Forgive and do not hate each other
Pray with faith, Act with courage
Never surrender

The Free Burma Rangers’ (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under the oppression of the Burma Army. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive Burmese military attacks.

For more information, please visit www.freeburmarangers.org

© 2017 Free Burma Rangers | Contact FBR

To unsubscribe from this email list, please respond to this email with the word REMOVE in the subject line, or send email to mailadmin@freeburmarangers.org.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Press Release: UN Human Rights Council decides to urgently dispatch an international fact finding mission to Burma/Myanmar

 

Press Release

UN Human Rights Council decides to urgently dispatch an international fact finding mission to Burma/Myanmar

 

By Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Progressive Voice, Kachin Women's Organization Thailand, Women's Peace Network, Ta'ang Women's Organization

 

(Geneva, 24 March 2017) – Today, in a landmark decision, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to urgently dispatch an international fact finding mission to look into gross human rights violations in Burma/Myanmar. This comes after numerous calls by UN experts and civil society for an International Commission of Inquiry (COI) into allegation of serious violations within the country. Despite strong calls for a COI, the Council decided to opt for a more ambiguous mechanism in the form of a fact finding mission, thereby falling short of expectations. However, it is hoped that the fact finding mission will be able to rise up to challenges, and ultimately fulfil expectations by launching an independent and effective investigation into allegations of gross violations in Burma/Myanmar – and reporting back to the Council with robust recommendations.

 

"While we hoped for a stronger mechanism, we are glad that in the end the Council has been able to take a concrete step towards an inquiry into violations," said Khin Ohmar of Progressive Voice, "As the first international body with a dedicated mandate to look into specific gross violations in Burma/Myanmar, the fact finding mission has a historic task and an enormous responsibility." 

Security operations in Rakhine state, which began in October last year, consistently grabbed international headlines, as accounts of grave abuses against the Rohingya minority, such as mass gang-rape, torture and killings, continued to pour in. As the 34th session of the Council began, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar called for a COI, citing the likelihood of crimes against humanity in the country. Consequently, intense negotiations ensured at the Council on possible action, leading to this resolution.

 

"It is essential that the international community is able to adequately react to grave violations in a timely and effective manner," said Wai Wai Nu of the Women's Peace Network, "Since 2012 there have been several calls for international investigations on abuses in Rakhine state, but none materialised until now. The fact finding mission has an important role to play, since none of the six different national investigation initiatives set up by the government since 2012 have been independent or credible." 

 

"While the horrific violations reported recently in Rakhine state are deeply worrying and need particular attention, similar allegations have also been coming in from the Kachin and Shan states since 2011", said Stella Naw of the Kachin Women Association's Thailand (KWAT), "The pattern and timeline of violations are similar to Rakhine state and have in fact intensified since August of last year. We are glad that the Council has identified the important need to take a holistic approach, and that the mandate of the fact finding mission is broad and covers all regions of Burma/Myanmar with a particular reference to Rakhine state."

 

Lway Vehnim of Ta'ang Women's Organization echoed a similar view, "the broad mandate of the fact finding mission will help in finding more effective solutions to countrywide issues related to minorities, impunity, justice and accountability."

"The President of the Council, who is tasked with setting up the fact finding mission, should swiftly select experts for the mission in an independent and transparent manner. It is important that this process is merit based and that selected experts have the necessary expertise for the mission," said R. Iniyan Ilango, UN Advocacy Programme Manager for the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), "In order to be effective, the fact finding mission should address root causes, and go back at least as far as 2012 in tracing the circumstances that led to recent grave violations."

 

"It is unfortunate that the government of Burma/Myanmar has chosen to disassociate itself from this resolution," said John Samuel, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA, "It is important for the National League for Democracy led government in Burma/Myanmar to see international human rights mechanisms as an ally in its arduous struggle with the military, which still maintains effective control in the country and stands implicated in allegations of gross violations. This resolution is a great opportunity for the government to move in the right direction. It should cooperate fully with the international fact finding mission."

 

---

For more information contact:

- R. Iniyan Ilango, UN Advocacy Programme Manager, FORUM-ASIA: iniyan@forum-asia.org

- Khin Ohmar, Chair of the Advisory Board, Progressive Voice; info@progressive-voice.org

 

 

Download the press release in PDF here

 

About Progressive Voice

 

Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 the same day that Progressive Voice was formally established. For further information, please see our press release "Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice."

 

    
 



This message was sent to icfab8888.peacefulway@blogger.com from:

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Weekly Highlights: HRC Must Be Resolute and Mandate Fact Finding Mission in Myanmar including Rakhine State

    

HRC Must Be Resolute and Mandate Fact Finding Mission in Myanmar including Rakhine State

Ms. Yanghee Lee pictured after her report to the Human Rights Council at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland on March 13, 2017. Photo credit: Denis Balibouse/ Reuters

 

 

 

In a positive turn of events on March 16, 2017, the Human Rights Council (HRC) draft resolution on Myanmar[1] now calls for the urgent deployment of an international Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed by the military and security forces in the country, particularly in Rakhine State. Only two weeks ago, it seemed that Myanmar would evade such a probe. Previous versions of the European Union (EU)-led draft resolution stopped short of calling for an international investigation, which has been pushed for by both the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, as well as various local, regional and international human rights organizations, including Progressive Voice.

 

This marked strengthening of language came at the heels of the Special Rapporteur's presentation to the Council, during which she reiterated her call for a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to examine the situation in Rakhine State, and stressed that "prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial" investigations are needed across the country, including in Kachin and Shan States. While FFMs are less authoritative than COIs and not usually coupled with a systematic legal assessment, the EU-led move is a step in the right direction. A FFM, if ultimately approved by the HRC member states, will dispel any uncertainty regarding the circumstances on the ground, and set the necessary foundation for further substantive action. In the case of Burundi, the alarming findings of the FFM established in 2015 led to the establishment of a COI in 2016.

 

But any optimism surrounding this UN call must be cautious as the Myanmar Government has been consistent in its opposition to any international investigations, urging the international community to have faith in domestic investigative bodies. As a case in point, one such body, the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, released its interim report late last weeka timely move considering that the EU-led draft resolution was tabled at the HRC just one day prior to its release. Among the Advisory Commissions' numerous recommendations—all of which received the endorsement of the government—is a call for an "impartial and independent" investigation into allegations of abuse in the Rakhine State. But while that, along with the rest of the report, is largely in line with what civil society groups and the UN have called for, the international community must be wary of falling into a trap of complacency. As Progressive Voice highlighted in a joint statement with local women's groups and FORUM-ASIA last week, the government has established numerous commissions since 2012, and all were bogged with questionable composition, methods, and conclusions. In addition, the Kofi Annan-led Commission itself does not have the mandate to investigate human rights violations.

 

Moreover, the significance of the timing of the report—at a time when UN member states are preparing to vote—cannot be lost. In 2011, amidst calls for a COI to investigate possible crimes against humanity in the country, the then military-backed, quasi-civilian Myanmar government established the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. While the international call for COI ultimately fell through, partly due to increasing optimism about the reforms in Myanmar, the Commission has yet to live up to its mandate or gain public confidence as its existence has clearly not deterred continued abuse of the civilian population. Once again, the international community finds itself at the cusp of giving undue credence to the Myanmar Government's commitments.

 

Whether a fact-finding mission will be dispatched at all is still completely up in the air, with HRC member states due to vote on resolutions later this week. Last Friday, China and Russia blocked a short Security Council press statement that would have "noted with concern" the renewed fighting in the country and "stressed the importance" of allowing humanitarian access to conflict affected areas. China is currently a member of the HRC, and its Security Council veto alone indicates that the voting on the EU-led draft resolution will be a serious test of international resolve.

 

As deliberations in Geneva continue, the situation on the ground remains distressing. Since March 6, 2017, over 30,000 people from the Kokang area of Shan State have been displaced due to renewed conflict between the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Myanmar Army. Ongoing conflict in Kachin State has also made the situation increasingly precarious for tens of thousands of internally displaced people. Just last week, three women human rights defenders from Myanmar testified at a HRC side-event, joined by the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Yanghee Lee, and moderated by Khin Ohmar, Chair of the Advisory Board at Progressive Voice, presenting unmistakable pattern of human rights violations, including rape and sexual violence, committed by the Myanmar Army on local ethnic and religious minority populations in both conflict and non-conflict areas.

 

As demonstrated by its own record thus far, the Myanmar Government is incapable of conducting "impartial and independent" investigations. Going forward, it is imperative that member states at the HRC remember who the true beneficiaries of an international investigation are, and vote for the EU-led draft resolution to deploy a UN-led fact-finding mission into the country. If the international community genuinely wishes to help Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy-led Government bring the Myanmar Army under civilian control, and thus ensure that the people of Myanmar achieve a successful transition into democracy, supporting an international investigation is an absolute must.

 


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term 'Myanmar' in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of 'Myanmar' rather than 'Burma' without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten.

 

 

 

 

STATEMENTS AND PRESS RELEASES

 

Myanmar: Urgent Action Needed to Address Deteriorating Human Rights Situation
By Amnesty International  

Myanmar: Amnesty International Oral Statement at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
By Amnesty International  

Myanmar: Act now on Rakhine Commission report
By Amnesty International

International Day of Action for Rivers: Countrywide Gatherings on International Rivers Day to Oppose Large Dams in Burma's Conflict Zone
By Burma Rivers Network, Save the Salween Network and Burma Environmental Working Group   

 

ျမစ္ေခ်ာင္းမ်ားအတြက္ ႏုိင္ငံတကာလႈပ္ရွားမႈေန႕- ျမန္မာျမစ္ေခ်ာင္းမ်ားဆုိင္ရာကြန္ယက္-BRN သံလြင္ထိန္းသိမ္းကာကြယ္ေရးကြန္ယက္- SSN ႏွင့္ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံသဘာဝပတ္၀န္းက်င္အလုပ္အဖြဲ႕ – BEWG တုိ႕၏ထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကျငာခ်က္
By Burma Rivers Network, Save the Salween Network and Burma Environmental Working Group   

Statement by the Spokesperson on the Interim Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, Myanmar
By European External Action Service/Spokesperson on the Interim Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State

 

Remarks: Chairman Royce on Human Rights of the Rohingya People

By Foreign Affairs Committee

 

Burma/Myanmar: Human Rights Council should establish an independent, international investigation into gross human rights abuses
By FORUM-ASIA, Progressive Voice, Women's Peace Network, Kachin Women's Association‐Thailand and Ta'ang Women's Organization

 

U.S. Support International Inquiry Into Violations in Myanmar
By Fortify Rights

 

US: Call on Burma to Cease Persecution of Rohingya
By Human Rights Watch

 

BAHRI Joint NGO Statement on Human Rights in Myanmar Submitted to the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council
By  International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute

 

NGO Statement on Asia and the Pacific Agenda item 3(a)iv
By International Council of Voluntary Agencies

Out of Control: The World Bank's Reckless Private Sector Investments in Southeast Asia Exposed
By Inclusive Development International


Myanmar Journalist Harassed Following Critical Reporting
By International Federation of Journalists

 

Statement by Kofi Annan, Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State (Interim Report)
By Kofi Annan/Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State

 

၂၀၁၇ ခုႏွစ္၊ မတ္လ(၁၄)ရက္ေန႔တြင္ က်ေရာက္သည့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာျမစ္ေခ်ာင္းအင္းအိုင္မ်ားလႈပ္ရွားမႈေန႔အေပၚေဒသခံဌာေနတိုင္းရင္းသားမ်ားမွ သေဘာထားထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္
By Kachin local Residents

 

A New Wave of Atrocities is Being Committed Against Muslims in Burma's Rakhine State
By  Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Asia Division/Human Rights Watch

 

မြန္တုိင္းရင္းသားတုိ႔၏ သေဘာဆႏၵကုိ ဆန္႔က်င္ကာ တံတားအမည္ေျပာင္းလဲျခင္းကုိ ကန္႔ကြက္ေၾကာင္း သေဘာထားထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္

By Palaung State Liberation Front

 

Statement by Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council
By Yanghee Lee/UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

 

The U.S. Embassy is Concerned by Reports of Escalating Conflict in northern Shan State & the Displacement of tens of Thousands of People

By US Embassy in Burma

 

UN Expert Calls for Independent Investigations into Killings and Violations in Myanmar
By UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

 

REPORTS

 

Advisory Commission on Rakhine State: Interim Report and Recommendations
By Advisory Commission on Rakhine State

 

ရခုိင္ျပည္နယ္ဆုိင္ရာ အႀကံေပးေကာ္မရွင္၏ ၾကားျဖတ္ အစီရင္ခံစာ
By Advisory Commission on Rakhine State

 

Moving From Discrimination to Inclusion: Gender Perspectives on the Political Dialogue Themes
By  Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process

 

ခြဲျခားဆက္ဆံမႈမ်ားကင္းေ၀းရာမွ အားလံုုးအလံုုးစံုုပါ၀င္မႈဆီသိုု႔ ႏုုိင္ငံေရးစကား၀ုုိင္းအေၾကာင္းအရာမ်ားအေပၚက်ား မ ေရးရာ ဂ်ဲန္ဒါအျမင္ရႈေထာင့္မ်ား

By  Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process

 

The Humanitarian Crisis Beneath the Conflicts: Report Detailing Dire Humanitarian Needs in Burma's Rakhine and Kachin States
By Burma Human Rights Network

 

Briefing Paper on the Human Rights Situation in Burma/Myanmar
By FORUM-ASIA and Progressive Voice

Humanitarian Situation Update in Northern Shan State, 15th March 2017
By Joint Strategy Team

 

Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yay Township, June to July 2015

By Karen Human Rights Group

 

A New Wave of Atrocities is Being Committed Against Muslims in Burma's Rakhine State
By Phil Robertson, Asia Division Deputy Director/Human Rights Watch

 

Myanmar's Next Great Transformation: Enclosing the Oceans and our Aquatic Resources
By Transnational Institute

 

သမုဒၵရာႏွင့္ ေရေအာက္သယံဇာတမ်ားကို ျခံခတ္သိမ္းဆည္းျခင္း။ ။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံဧ။္ ေနာက္ထပ္ၾကီးက်ယ္သည့္ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲေရး ေျခလွမ္းတစ္ရပ္

By Transnational Institute

About Progressive Voice

 

Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 the same day that Progressive Voice was formally established. For further information, please see our press release "Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice."

     




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As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,
"Justice is a dream. But it is a dream we are determined to realize."