The Office of the European Union Representative
(West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)

Special Session on the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar

12/02/2021 - 09:44
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The EU and UK have jointly called for today’s Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar, a call supported by over 50 states from all regions.

Today we send a strong signal to the people of Myanmar: you are not alone, the protection of your human rights matters to us,” says Ambassador Walter Stevens, Head of the European Union Delegation to the UN in Geneva.  The EU welcomes that the Human Rights Council addresses the grave political events that are taking place in Myanmar. “We are deeply concerned about the human rights implications,” states EU Ambassador Stevens. “We cannot remain silent about violations of fundamental human rights, such as freedom of opinion and expression, religion or belief, and association and assembly. We cannot keep silent when duly elected officials are put in custody. It was important for the Council to respond quickly to the events taking place in Myanmar, which reverse ten years of democratic transition.” The military’s restrictions on information flows are deeply concerning. Civilians, including civil society and the media, must not be subject to reprisals in any form.

Prevention being a part of the Human Rights Council’s mandate, this session is a crucial opportunity for the Council to contribute to the prevention of further human rights violations in the country. “The message to the Myanmar military is clear: the military is bound by international human rights law, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any use of violence against peaceful protesters,” underlines EU Ambassador Stevens. 

The European Union calls upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, to restore the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights and the rule of law. We stand ready to support dialogue with all key stakeholders who wish to resolve the situation in good faith, and to do all we can to ensure that democracy prevails.

The Council adopted a resolution deploring the removal of the Government democratically elected by the people of Myanmar in the general election held on 8 November 2020, and the suspension of mandates of members of all parliaments, and called for the restoration of the democratically elected Government.  The Council also called urgently for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons arbitrarily detained, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and others, and the lifting of the state of emergency, and stressed the need to refrain from violence and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. 

The Council strongly called upon the Myanmar military and other security forces and authorities to take steps immediately to protect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, religion or belief, association and peaceful assembly in accordance with international human rights law, and to ensure that members of civil society organizations and the media are able to operate freely and without fear of violence, harassment or intimidation.  The Council also called for the immediate lifting of restrictions on the Internet, telecommunication and social media, in accordance with international human rights law. The resolution further requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to assess the current human rights situation in Myanmar, and to provide updates in their reports to the Human Rights Council, and called upon Myanmar authorities to engage and cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and further requested the Secretary-General to provide increased assistance and the resources and expertise necessary to enable them to discharge the mandate fully.