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Human Rights Issues Make Slow Progress in Myanmar despite Civilian Government

BANGKOK – The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) highlighted on Sunday the slow advance of human rights issues in Myanmar during the first 100 days of a civilian government, after half a century of military rule.

The NGO urged the Myanmar government, run behind the scenes by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, for a national agenda on human rights and to urgently address key issues.

“In some human rights areas, progress has been slow; in others, key issues have remained unaddressed or been relegated to a low priority status. The government must not fall victim to complacency because of its extraordinary popular support,” FIDH President Karim Lahidji said in a statement.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party achieved a landslide victory in the November elections that allowed it to form a government on its own on March 30, the first civilian government since 1962.

Lahidji asked the NLD for a roadmap with “measurable and time-bound benchmarks” to evaluate if the targets had been achieved.

Meanwhile, FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard said, “The government must urgently pursue legislative and institutional reforms, halt gender-based violence by state actors, and release all political prisoners.”

Stothard touched upon the human rights violations in areas where conflict persists between the armed forces and ethnic guerrillas as well as “systematic discrimination” against ethnic and religious minorities, including the Muslim Rohingya.

The Myanmar government does not recognize the Arkanese Rohingyas as citizens, considering them as illegal “Bangladeshi” immigrants in their own land, which limits their access to education and health facilities.

The last Burmese military junta ceded power in 2011 to a like-minded government, led by Thein Sein, a former general of the old regime who initiated a series of political and economic reforms that led to the lifting of sanctions by the European Union and the United States in 2011.

However, the military continues to enjoy sweeping powers and influence in the country under the Constitution, which in 2008 approved military privileges, including 25 percent reservation in the parliament and priority in the selection of the Armed Forces’ head and Defense and Interior ministers.

“These factors allow human rights violations, particularly in ethnic minority areas, to continue and foster a climate of impunity among members of the armed forces,” said FIDH’s statement.

Note: Changes have been made, Herald Tribune is not responsible for these.

Source: Herald Tribune