Friday, January 16, 2015

Press Release: Coordination Committee for Civil Society Organizations Forum

 

14 January 2015

Press Release

Coordination Committee for Civil Society Organizations Forum

The Coordination Committee for Civil Society Organizations Forum held a press conference at M3 Food Court in Rangoon regarding issues around Burma's reform process. These include crises brought upon by newly enacted legislation and laws proposed during the present government's reign, the absence of rule of law, and the repression suffered by human rights activists. These issues were also raised at a meeting on 13th January 2015 between Coordination Committee member organizations and the American human rights delegation led by US Assistant Secretary of State, Tom Malinowski.

Coordination Committee members, news media and representatives of interested civil society organizations, totalling over 40 people, attended the press conference in which Coordination Committee members Ma Theinni, Ko Sithu, Ma May Sabel Phyu and U Aung Myo Min explained about the lack of rule of law, flaws in existing and newly enacted laws, and repression and crises caused by those laws.

Ko Sithu, representative of a land right network called Lands in Our Hand, talked about farmland problems, saying that unfair land laws were causing extreme hardship for farmers whose plight could worsen with the newly adopted land use policy. He asserted that the National Land Use Policy helps to facilitate investment fails to safeguard the wellbeing of farmers.

Ma May Sabel Phyu added that the Coordination Committee, along with organizations working for women's rights, were highly concerned with potential conflicts arising out of controversial draft national race and religious protection laws.

Ma Theinni Oo, who visited the site on a fact-finding trip, disclosed her findings about the lack of transparency in the provision of compensation and the deceiving of local people into signing compensation agreements. Some locals claimed they accepted compensation for three years' worth harvest but later realized that the agreements they signed were for 60 years lease and that full content of the agreement were not disclosed to them before signing. In addition, farmers who refused to take compensation were forced into acceptance and their lands seized and crops were destroyed, she said. She added that the commission for investigation into the case of Daw Khin Win, who was killed in a police crackdown on protestors of the Letpadaung Copper Mine project, is not transparent in its structure and functions. She also learnt from Daw Khin Win's family that they were treated and questioned like criminals, and were obstructed from filing the case at court.

Moreover, Coordination Committee members visited human rights activists U Nay Myo Zin, Naw Ohn Hla and Ko Tin Htut Paing at their trial on 13th January 2015 who informed that restrictions were harsher this time than in previous detentions, urged Coordination Committee members to strive to end the regime's persecution of human rights activists, she said.

There are many flaws in existing laws as well as in newly enacted laws such as the draft national race and religion protection law, National Education Law, Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law and National Land Use Policy, and the use of law to arrest, intimidate and oppress democracy and human rights activists clearly shows that the regal reform process has failed to promote rule of law but instead is oriented toward oppressive rule by law, noted U Aung Myo Min as he explained about legal reform process under the current government. The Coordination Committee for Civil Society Organizations Forum, therefore, is committed to advancing a process of legal reform that complies with democracy and human rights standards and that the government should not regard civil society organizations as enemies or people will become fearful of working to achieve human rights and democracy, thus reverting to the political situation under the previous military regime, he continued.

The Burma Civil Society Organizations Forum was held for three days in Rangoon from October 14 -16, 2014 with the aim to review and analyse Burma's reform process during President Thein Sein's term to give recommendations to the government and the international community. More than 650 delegates from 257 civil society organizations and networks active in various sectors throughout Burma attended the forum. The participants issued a forum statement and formed the Coordination Committee to implement the statement.

Contacts for interviews: Ma May Sabel Phyu (09421170783), Ko Sithu (09403706052), Ma Theinni Oo (095099096), U Aung Myo Min (09448015306)

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