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Myanmar: Myanmar/Kachin: WASH Cluster Snapshot, June 2015

25 June 2015 - 7:00am
Source: UN Children's Fund, WASH Cluster Country: Myanmar

HIGHLIGHT OF THE MONTH

  • WASH cluster team participated to a rapid UNICEF led multi-sectorial assessment in Namtit from 28th – 30th May 1

  • Household Treatment Water Working group was held in Bhamo on 28th May with particpatuion of 21 staff from governmental authorities (DRD, DOH, RRD and TDC) and humanitarian agencies

  • 55 camps out of a total of 155 (35%) are not currently targeted by a WASH ptoject. These camps host 18155 IDPs (12210 in GCA and 5945 in NGCA) out of a total of 74001 IDPs (24%). 49 out of these camps are located in CGA. 21 are located in Hpakant area where clashes occurred at the beginning of 2015. The 34 remaining non WASH targeted IDPs camps are located in 15 different townships of Kachin and NSS.

  • Preliminary discussions with DRD State authorities to strengthen WASH sector coordination in Kachin

World: The Human Rights Council holds general debate on human rights situations requiring its attention

25 June 2015 - 12:51am
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Burundi, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iraq, Myanmar, occupied Palestinian territory, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

MIDDAY

24 June 2015

Minister of Justice of South Sudan Addresses the Council

The Human Rights Council today held a general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, during which speakers raised allegations of human rights violations in countries and regions around the world and reiterated the Council’s responsibility to address all situations of concern. The Council also heard an address from Paulino Wanawilla Unango, Minister of Justice of South Sudan.

Speakers in the general debate highlighted concerns about shrinking space for civil society and harassment of human rights defenders and journalists in a number of countries. They also expressed concerns about attacks against civilians and violations of international law during armed conflicts. Several speakers regretted the confrontational approach of this item of the Council and condemned the politicization of human rights issues.

Latvia on behalf of the European Union, Ireland on behalf of 25 States, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Latvia on behalf of a group of countries, Ireland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Cuba, China, Norway, Iceland, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Israel, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belgium, Azerbaijan, Spain, Iran, Georgia, Belarus, Slovakia, Malaysia, Ukraine and Eritrea took the floor.

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Sudwind, Minority Rights Group, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Reporters without Borders, Franciscans International in a joint statement with Budi Tjahjono, Liberation, Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparency, African Development Association, Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Victorious Youth Movement, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Association Dunenyo, World Organisation against Torture, Centre for Reproductive Rights, Alsalam Foundation, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, International Humanist and Ethical Union, British Humanist Association, World Muslim Congress, Africa Culture Internationale, Asian Legal Resource Centre, World Barua Organization, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Human Rights House Foundation, OCAPROCE Internationale, United Nations Watch, Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Amnesty International, Civicus, Presse Embleme Campagne, American Association of Jurists, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Article 19, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Agence Internationale pour le Developpement, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi, Baha’i International Community and Centrist Democratic International.

Myanmar, Ethiopia, Bahrain, China, Sudan, Japan, Burundi, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Maldives, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Indonesia and Iran spoke in right of reply.

The Council also heard an address from Paulino Wanawilla Unango, Minister of Justice of South Sudan, who said that, in the context of the ongoing crisis, the Government had to extend the tenure of the National Legislature and the tenure and the mandate of the Office of the President to avoid a constitutional vacuum and negotiate a peace agreement.

The Council is having a full day of meetings today. At 4 p.m., it will consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Kyrgyzstan and Guinea. The consideration of the outcome of Kiribati has been postponed to next week.

General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, condemned serious human rights violations and abuses in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and called for accountability in South Sudan. The European Union was also extremely concerned about the excessive use of the death penalty and the harassment of human rights defenders in Egypt. It called for the release of all prisoners of opinion in Azerbaijan and China. The European Union expressed concerns over the situation in Uzbekistan, and torture in Turkmenistan. It was deeply concerned about restrictions on the freedom of expression in the Russian Federation and Venezuela, and regretted that Israel had not granted access to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of 25 States, expressed concern about the shrinking space and harassment of civil society and journalists in Azerbaijan, where critical voices were systematically silenced. It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Azerbaijan and referred to individual cases of political prisoners in urgent need of medical care. Azerbaijan should cooperate fully in the field of human rights with the international community, and facilitate visits with Special Procedures. Azerbaijan was bound to abide to decisions of the European Court on Human Rights.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community should support human rights in all countries, and that human rights had to be addressed in a fair and equal manner, with objectivity, non-selectivity, non-interference and respect to sovereignty of States. It stressed the importance of human rights not to be used for political purposes and adopting politically motivated decisions. All actors on the international scene should build an international order based on inclusion, mutual respect and the promotion of cultural diversity.

Latvia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, voiced concerns over violations and abuses of human rights in Burundi, in particular the excessive use of force by the security forces against demonstrators, and restrictions incompatible with the right to freedom of expression, including media freedom, and the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. The Council should stand ready to convene an urgent debate on the human rights situation in Burundi should the situation further deteriorate.

Ireland voiced concern over increasing restrictions on civil society space in many countries, including in the Russian Federation and Ethiopia. In Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and Myanmar there were threats to freedom of religion and belief. Violence against children and recruitment of child soldiers were worrying in South Sudan. Ireland called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to enter into an active dialogue with the Council, and noted that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory remained a matter of serious concern.

Germany expressed concern over the worsening human rights situation in China and urged the Government to immediately release all detained human rights defenders and to stop restricting the work of international civil rights organizations. It was also concerned about the shrinking space for civil society in the Russian Federation and Egypt, and condemned human rights violations in eastern Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the effects of the conflict in South Sudan.

France reiterated its concerns about the situation in Syria and the suffering caused by the regime and ISIS. France called on all parties to the conflict in eastern Ukraine to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law. France supported the creation of a mandate to investigate human rights violations in South Sudan and hold perpetrators accountable, and underlined the importance for Burundi to respect freedom of information. France called for accountability of perpetrators of systematic violations in Eritrea; and condemned acts by Boko Haram, recalling that counter-terrorism activities had to comply with international law.

Netherlands remained highly concerned over the situation in Iraq and international crimes by ISIS, and urged the Iraqi Government to hold perpetrators of crimes to account. Netherlands underlined the situation of vulnerable groups in Iraq, including women, children and refugees. Netherlands called on all parties to the conflict in eastern Ukraine to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law and to investigate abuses, and expressed concerns about the situation in Crimea. In South Sudan, justice and accountability would be a crucial part in any peace agreement.

Saudi Arabia condemned continuous violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and their lack of recognition by the State and denial of their basic human rights. Saudi Arabia also regretted hate speech and discrimination against the Rohingya. The continuous violations against them led to them fleeing the country and putting their lives at risk. Saudi Arabia called for international solidarity to help the Rohingya Muslims.

United Kingdom remained deeply concerned by the appalling violations and abuses of human rights in Syria, and by Iran’s use of the death penalty and restrictions on freedom of expression and belief. It welcomed the opening of the new Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul as an important step towards establishing accountability for human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Other concerning situations were in Burma, Gaza, South Sudan and Sudan.

Japan welcomed the establishment of the field-based structure in Seoul, and expressed hope that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would heed the calls of the international community to improve its human rights record. It also expressed concern about the human rights situation in Syria, South Sudan and Nigeria. A human security based approach, with emphasis on protection and empowerment of each individual, should be the high priority.

Montenegro encouraged States, as principal guarantors of human rights, to redouble efforts within the existing international legal framework. Decisive actions and firm commitments from all Governments were needed to place human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens at the heart of their national policies. Montenegro was concerned that Syria did not cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was encouraged to renew its initially expressed interest in cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Russia stated that Ukrainian forces had once again started shelling populated areas and civilians were suffering. The restrictions on movement, introduced by Kiev, were limiting movements of humanitarian organizations as well. Russia was seriously concerned about Ukraine’s suspension of certain provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Some Ukrainian battalions, such as “Aydar”, were committing crimes and had not yet been brought to justice.

United States was deeply concerned about the human rights situations in Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and South Sudan. In China, concern remained about increased arrests, detentions and forced disappearances, including in Tibetan and Uighur areas. Cuba was urged to improve respect for fundamental freedoms, release arbitrarily detained activists and provide greater internet access. Egypt violated freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Minority groups and independent media were prosecuted in Russian-occupied Crimea.

Venezuela was opposed to the selective practice that promoted initiatives directed specifically at some countries, and said this item of the Council should not be used at directing unjustified and politically motivated accusations. It underlined the credibility of the Council, and said naming and shaming should be eradicated from its work. Venezuela regretted that major powers just criticized the human rights of developing countries to fulfil their political agendas, and omitted to address poverty and the right to development. Venezuela expressed concerns about arbitrary detention by the United States.

Cuba said Western powers used this debate at every session to advance their political agendas and make baseless accusations against developing countries. Western powers should first address their own human rights problems, including arbitrary detention and other violations perpetrated in the name of countering terrorism, violations of the rights of migrants, racism and xenophobia and police brutality. The Council was set up to encourage dialogue and promote cooperation. Cuba had nothing to be taught about human rights.

China said the work of the Council should focus on dialogue, cooperation, technical assistance and capacity building. Country specific dialogues and mandates were in opposition with this goal and with the United Nations Charter. Regrettably, the United States and European countries had made false allegations against countries of the South, including China. China pointed at human rights problems in the United States, including torture, police violence and racism. In European countries, bills on terrorism restricted freedoms, migrants suffered violations, and xenophobia was on the rise.

Norway said it was concerned about massive human rights violations in South Sudan. The Government had to investigate those incidents and prosecute the perpetrators. Norway opposed the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. An alarming number of executions were being carried out in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia. Norway regretted the persistent worsening of conditions for civil society in the Russian Federation.

Iceland said that States were ultimately responsible for combatting discrimination and had to do so actively, both internally and by speaking up internationally. In Saudi Arabia women and girls faced severe discrimination in law and practice, whereas in the Russian Federation discriminatory legislation targeted civil and political rights. In Myanmar there were ongoing instances of religious and anti-Muslim violence, while the human rights situation of the Rohingya community was worsening.

Canada remained concerned by the widespread human rights abuses in South Sudan, and by the indiscriminate targeting of civilians in Sudan. Accounts of mass rape by Government-aligned troops had to be investigated and perpetrators had to be held accountable. Canada was also concerned about the human rights situation in Eritrea and Uzbekistan.

Switzerland said that increasing restrictions on civil society organizations in a number of countries was a raising concern for Switzerland. In China, criminal charges brought against individuals and institutions were reducing the space for civil society. In Russia, a recent law on undesirable international organizations had created a risk of the interference by the State in the legitimate activities of civil society. Switzerland was preoccupied with restrictions on human rights in the context of political manifestations.

Australia stated that the barbaric terrorist organization Daesh was a major and lethal threat to the people of Iraq and Syria. The abuse of human rights and violence by Daesh were deeply concerning and Australia condemned them in the strongest terms. Australia reiterated its call for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to implement the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry’s report.

Israel said that in Iran, executions multiplied by the day, journalists were imprisoned, minorities were persecuted and women were discriminated against. In Saudi Arabia, women were still subject to discrimination, and the use of torture and executions had increased. A plethora of violent radical non-State actors, supported by States sitting in the Council, terrorized the population. The Council was politicized and biased and it exhibited hypocrisy instead of discussion of the root causes of extreme Islamic terrorism.

Czech Republic expressed concern over the silencing of dissenting voices in China, Azerbaijan and Venezuela. It expressed hope that the situation in Bahrain would be resolved peacefully. It called on all those countries to release those who defended the rights of others. Czech Republic was also concerned about mass death sentences in Egypt. The culture of impunity in Syria was alarming. In the Russian Federation a law stifling civil society had been passed.

Ecuador drew the Council’s attention to the growing use of fire arms against alleged criminals, usually black and Latino, in the United States, and the impunity of persons who used such force. It raised concern over the overcrowding of prisons in the United States and the bad conditions in which inmates were held. The Committee against Torture had criticized that practice, but it nevertheless persisted.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea noted that human rights violations in the United States had reached a grave stage in the form of interference in internal affairs, plots, aggression and war against other countries. The European Union was committing gross violations, such as rejection and brutal killing of immigrants, desecration, Islamophobia, praising and inciting neo-Nazism and discrimination against minorities.

Belgium stated that in Eritrea, systemic and grave violations had caused mass departures of young people. Uzbekistan had refused 13 times visits in the context of the Special Procedures of the Council. In Burundi, the culture of fear created obstacles for the opposition to campaign, which would make the upcoming elections less credible. Recent legislation in Russia allowing for arbitrary decisions limiting space for civil society was extremely regrettable.

Azerbaijan said that intolerance and hate speech against minorities in a number of European countries, neglect of women and children in the Magdalene laundries in Ireland, and discrimination of Roma in Germany and Poland, were all matters of concern. Overcrowding of prisons and the high number of gun-related deaths in the United States were among serious problems which should be looked into.

Spain was worried about the expansion of settlements, forced demolitions and displacement of Palestinians in the territories occupied by Israel. The situation in Libya was gravely deteriorating, and was being made worse by the rise of Daesh. Violations of international humanitarian law in the east of Ukraine were unacceptable, and Spain was particularly concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Crimea.

Iran noted that the United States had failed to implement many recommendations of its Universal Periodic Review process. Iran was deeply disturbed by the systematic human rights violations of the Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli regime. Noting that discrimination was one of the greatest challenges today, Iran said that in the United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Norway, people were subject to exclusion and violence because of who they were and what they believed.

Georgia reminded that on numerous occasions it had drawn the Council’s attention to the alarming humanitarian situation and persistent human rights violations in Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. The continuous vacuum of international presence on the ground had turned both regions into “black holes” and one of the most inaccessible places on earth.

Belarus said it would prefer for all human rights issues to be discussed at the Council in accordance with the principles of universality and impartiality. Nevertheless, some countries were promoting their political agenda, which was a clear example of double standards. Belarus called on the Council to put an end to politicizing, and to perform its work on the basis of constructive dialogue and cooperation.

Slovakia remained concerned that many individuals were prevented from exercising their fundamental freedoms and human rights, particularly freedom of expression and association, and reiterated concern about the situation in Belarus and in Eritrea. Slovakia reiterated the urgent need to end impunity and hold perpetrators of human rights violations in South Sudan accountable.

Malaysia remained profoundly concerned about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria and strongly urged all parties to end violence and cease all discriminate and disproportionate attacks in civilian populated areas. Achieving a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria would also address the IS threat in the country and the region in a more effective manner.

Ukraine drew attention to the continuing neglect of Russia of its obligations arising from the Minsk Agreement, and stressed that its obligation of release of all detainees related to all Ukrainian citizens unlawfully detained in Russia. Russia should stop torture and cruel treatment of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens and ensure their release and safe return to Ukraine.

Eritrea rejected politically motivated country-specific mechanisms. Human rights were being used for political purposes and promoting various geopolitical agendas, which was a trend that should be avoided. The neutrality and objectivity of the Council had been compromised. It remained necessary to combat all efforts violating non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity of the Council.

Sudwind said that the number of executions in Iran was more than the number of executions in all other countries, except for one. Iran pretended that it cared about the economic, social and cultural rights of its people, but it imprisoned a number of citizens for defending the rights of street children.

Minority Rights Group drew attention to the pressing situation concerning violence against women in Iraq. Protection and provision programmes for survivors were inadequate to facilitate victim reintegration into society. The vast majority of violent crimes against women were not prosecuted.

Human Rights Watch voiced concern about the detention of dissidents, human rights defenders and journalists in Uzbekistan, and the fact that the Government refused to investigate human rights violations and crimes. In South Sudan, thousands of civilians had been killed and both sides used child soldiers; Human Rights Watch called on the Council to create a Special Rapporteur for South Sudan. The Council should also monitor the human rights situation in Burundi.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues drew the Council’s attention to the surge of sexual violence by Egyptian security forces. The Egyptian Government recently opened an investigation into the activities of several civil society organizations. Saudi Arabia continued to defy all international human rights standards. The Council had failed to take action on the situation in Bahrain, which was a stain on its reputation.

Reporters without Borders called on Saudi Arabia to respect its international obligations in which it reaffirmed its commitment as a Council member. It urged the King to issue a pardon for all news providers who were unjustly detained, and asked Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to support those issues.

Franciscans International, on behalf of severals NGOs1 said that the Council was the only international mechanism that had the competency to fully and comprehensively address the human suffering witnessed today due to climate change. The Council should have this issue permanently on its agenda and establish a mandate on human rights and climate change to assess its full impact on human rights.

Liberation said that traditional institutions in India functioned as watchdogs in maintaining social order, but their power had been undermined and they were not recognized by the State, which led to disorder.

Non-Violent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty drew attention to the violation of international free territory of Trieste by Italy, where citizens were arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression and of association. An international Commission should be established to determine the role of free port of Trieste.

African Development Association said that perfectly ordinary situations in provinces in the south of Morocco were being instrumentalized in order to tarnish the image of Morocco on the international stage. In 2014, the World Human Rights Forum in Marrakech had demonstrated the significant progress Morocco had made in the field of human rights.

Action international pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs said that nobody was denying progress made in certain parts of Morocco. There were high levels of schooling, low levels of poverty, and the human development index there was rather high. Civil society ought to be reinforced to further promote human rights in the region.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture said that Israeli jailers did not care about the wellbeing of the imprisoned Palestinians. There were at least 25 Palestinian prisoners suffering from cancer, who were not receiving appropriate care in the Ramla jail. The occupiers should be pressured into releasing them. Negligence leading to the deaths of prisoners ought to be monitored.

Victorious Youth Movement was deeply concerned about the human rights situation and security situation in so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. People in the Pakistani administered Kashmir still lived in pathetic conditions and did not have freedom to exercise their fundamental rights.

International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism was alarmed by the current situation in Japan with the rights of the people of the Ryukyu/Okinawa under threat by the construction plan of a new United States military base in Henoko. Environmental human rights defenders, peace activists and protestors demonstrating against the plan had been subjected to violence by the police.

Association Dunenyo said that natural resources were a matter of sovereignty and fuelled economic development, and this was the case in Western Sahara. There was a need to ensure the fair distribution of income from natural resources for the benefit of the people of Western Sahara.

World Organisation Against Torture, in a joint statement with International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), stated that the repression in Azerbaijan had particularly escalated over the previous year, with arbitrary arrests of prominent human rights defenders and journalists. The repression seemed to be a strategy closely linked with the celebration of the European Games, to prevent criticism from spoiling the event.

Centre for Reproductive Rights was concerned about violence targeting women and girls in Nigeria and neighbouring countries by Boko Haram. The extremist group had abducted more than 2,000 girls since early 2014. The captors repeatedly subjected kidnapped women and girls to rape. In Paraguay, abortion was denied to a 10-year old girl reportedly raped by her stepfather. The girl should be given full medical services.

Alsalam Foundation said that in 2011, Bahrain had used arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, excessive force and torture in response to a widespread peaceful protest movement calling for reforms. In 2014, the Government had arbitrarily stripped a total of 52 Bahrainis of their native-born citizenship for exercising their human rights or opposition activism.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that Dalits in India were not provided with political representation and were treated as second grade citizens. Sikhs were restricted to petty businesses and were deprived of their due economic rights to excel in India like other elite Hindus. Socio-economic exclusion of north-eastern populations and Kashmiri Muslims was also a problem.

International Humanist and Ethical Union said that atheists in Egypt were threatened and prosecuted and last June authorities had launched a campaign against atheism which was jeopardising the society. This systematic operation jeopardised free society and freedom of opinion and thought.

British Humanist Association said that violence to which religious non-conformists were subjected had increased in both severity and frequency in Bangladesh. The Government had criminalized “defamation of religion”, creating a de facto blasphemy law, while violent vigilantism had also increased. Bangladesh should reform its legal code and practice in order to preserve the fundamental human rights to freedom of thought and expression.

World Muslim Congress said that India deprived people in the occupied Kashmir of human rights. The Army was provided with full impunity from being prosecuted for gross human rights violations. An example of a 21-year university student who was arrested and killed was given. Peaceful protests against such killings were regularly violently broken. Arbitrary arrests of protesters regularly took place.

Africa Culture Internationale stated that military operations in Balochistan existed to silence the voices of Baloch people, who asked for the rights to their land and access to vital resources. Asking for the right to protect identity, faith, culture, language and uphold socio-economic rights had become a crime for the people in Balochistan.

Asian Legal Resource Centre, in a joint statement with Franciscans International, stressed that judges, prosecutors and lawyers in Asia faced acute forms of suppression of their freedom to engage in their profession independently. Thailand’s judiciary, for example, had been passively supporting the military installed administration.

World Barua Organization said policies of the Government of India divided the population of the northeast of the country into castes. The different developmental policies of India had also discriminated against the region and had been used to justify discrimination policies.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association raised concerns about summary executions and arbitrary detentions in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian army had declared war against the civilian population.

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil, in a joint statement with Conectas Direitos Humanos, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), Minority Rights Group (MRG), and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), spoke about the interrogation programmes by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and human rights violations related to it. It said the United States had failed to hold perpetrators of torture accountable, and therefore had failed to ensure non-recurrence.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in Maldives where the right to peaceful assembly was being severely restrained and trumped up charges suppressed political dissent. The ongoing political impasse in Bangladesh continued to induce serious human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, and the draft Foreign Donation Act would stifle democratic space.

Human Rights House Foundation, in a joint statement with Article 19- International Center Against Censorship, and The International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) that the Government of Azerbaijan employed politically motivated criminal prosecutions and detentions, and the current crackdown was set apart from past repression by the scope of individuals being targeted, seriousness of charges and length of prison sentences imposed. Azerbaijan should put an end to this unprecedented repression against civil society and immediately release and rehabilitate the civil and political rights of all prisoners of conscience.

Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Economique Internationale regretted that little was said about Tinduf camps, where the rights of refugees were being violated. The lack of justice and lack of prospect for the future meant that the youth were targets for terrorist recruitment, and there had been cases of abduction. Criminal responsibility of those who deprived people of freedom should be raised.

United Nations Watch said that the vision of peace from the United Nations Charter had sadly not yet become a reality. Hamas in Gaza had been given tons of cement by the international community, which it had used to build kilometres of tunnels under the Israeli territory to kidnap and harm Israeli citizens. The Hamas charter called for war.

Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos stated that serious human rights violations committed by Moroccan forces in Western Sahara were of a systematic and persistent nature. Families of 400 people who had disappeared were continuing to demand access to justice, truth and reparations. Morocco did not facilitate the humanitarian work of independent experts.

Amnesty International said that the Conservative Government would bring forward proposals on the United Kingdom’s Bill of Rights. Proposals to replace the human rights act were not merely cosmetic and could lead to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights altogether. Individual States should not be the only and final arbiters of human rights on their territories.

World Association for Citizen Participation Civicus expressed concerns at restrictions of freedom of expression and of assembly and the persecution of human rights defenders. Shrinking space for civil society had emerged as a global challenge. The Association was concerned about the Government’s clampdown on civil society and opposition in Ethiopia, and on restrictions in Azerbaijan.

Presse Embleme Campagne expressed concern about the space for free journalism in Yemen, and reminded members of the Council of a resolution adopted by this body last year on the security of journalists and media staff. It referred to attacks and threats against reporters in Yemen.

American Association of Jurists, in a joint statement with International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) called for the release of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, who had completed 34 years in imprisonment in United States prisons for supporting the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said that in response to the popular unrest against decades of severe repression, human rights violations, social injustice and rampant corruption in the Arab region, almost all governments, with the exception of Tunisia, had failed to enact fundamental institutional reforms and ensure a transition to democracy. Instead, they had chosen to double-down on repression by attempting to silence dissent, restrict civil society, and lay siege to human rights defenders, all in the name of insuring stability and security.

Article 19 - International Centre Against Censorship, in a joint statement with Civicus-World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that civic space was shrinking across Europe and Central Asia, with many governments increasingly perceiving the expression of alternative viewpoints and dissent as a threat. Russian influence on countries’ legislation was growing, with an increasing rejection of universal human rights, and the replication of its restrictive “foreign agents law” across the region.

Eastern and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said that thousands of civilians had been killed since the conflict in the young country of South Sudan broke out in December 2013. It was time for the Council to address this situation, establish a mandate on South Sudan and call on the African Union to release its own report on this country. The situation in Burundi was of concern, and the Council must take action to address emerging human rights and humanitarian crises.

Agence Internationale pour le Developpement spoke of a case of a person abducted by the Polisario Front and accused of high treason. He had been released since, but had no passport which would allow him to circulate freely and could not reunite with his wife and five children. His case expressed the clear violation of human rights in numerous ways.

Arab Commission for Human Rights said that the Council needed to act to ensure that all citizens in all countries could enjoy their rights to the fullest. The tragic situation of the Rohingya in Burma was shocking, and the way the Burmese authorities were acting was unacceptable. A country mandate should be established for South Sudan as well.

Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi stated that it was very uncommon for Heads of State and Government to commit violations, such as hate speech, as was the case with the Turkish President Erdogan. Around 559 Turkish journalists and photographers had lost their jobs in 2014. All those not aligned with the President were exposed to violations of their human rights.

Baha’i International Community described how Iran shut down businesses for having closed during Baha’i holidays. Iranian authorities were persecuting the Baha’i community, and violating their economic rights in an effort to eradicate it as a viable entity in the place of its birth.

Centrist Democratic International had someone from Cuba speaking about her son being arbitrarily detained in Cuba in reprisal for her human rights work. Cuba had also denied all his fair-trial rights and his right to be released on parole. She asked that harassment against her and her family by the Cuban authorities stop.

Statement by the Minister of Justice of South Sudan

PAULINO WANAWILLA UNANGO, Minister of Justice of South Sudan, said that the Government had to extended the tenure of the National Legislature, and the tenure and the mandate of the Office of the President, which were due to come to an end by 9 July 2015 as per the provisions of the Transitional Constitution. In the context of the ongoing crisis, this had been done to avoid a constitutional vacuum and ensure that those two institutions had the mandate to negotiate with rebels and own any peace agreement concluded on behalf of South Sudanese. The Government continued its efforts to demobilise children associated with armed forces and had issued Punitive Orders which prohibited recruitment and use of children, and occupation of schools and hospitals. Since the National Security Service Law had been passed, the reform of the Service had been undertaken, including the recent recruitment based on educational standards and other requirements provided in the law. The Government was quite aware that there was no other alternative to end the current crisis other than sustainable peace, and that fair accountability would only be when peace had been achieved.

Right of Reply

Ethiopia, speaking in a right of reply, said the Eritrean Government valued the freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the right to free assembly and association. The Constitution provided for the work of civil society at the grass root level. Elections were held in a democratic and transparent manner, with the participation of all political parties. Civicus had to accept that Ethiopia was a country that enjoyed the rule of law. No arrests were made because of criticism of the Government, and Civicus was called upon to base their statements on facts.

Myanmar, speaking in a right of reply, raised objections to the usage of the country name of Burma in the Council. It noted that the relevant law defined the responsibility of media workers and established a new media council. Myanmar was stressed that the country was multi-ethnic and multi-confessional and that no discrimination was allowed. The Government would continue working to preserve stability and peace.

Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply, responding to the accusations of the delegations of Ireland and Switzerland regarding the rights of human rights defenders, said such statements should be governed by the general principles of human rights, rather than limited to narrow political considerations. Bahrain reaffirmed the rights of human rights defenders as long as they did not commit acts that were legally unacceptable. Any trial was the result of a violation of the law, which represented some threat to the peace and stability of the country.

China, speaking in a right of reply, refuted allegations by Switzerland and the Czech Republic and recalled both countries’ human rights problems, including racial discrimination, violations of the rights of migrants, racism and repression against the Roma community.

Sudan, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the unfounded and politically motivated allegations by the United States and the United kingdom. Freedom of the press was protected in Sudan. Disputes and law violations were settled before independent courts, and the recent elections were free and fair. A politically negotiated settlement was the way toward peace, but the rebels refused such a settlement. The United States’ sanctions were a violation of the right to development of Sudan.

Japan, speaking in a right of reply, said human rights and respect of humanity were a basic principle on which Japan stood. Japan called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms.

Burundi, speaking in a right of reply, rejected accusations that Burundi violated freedom of expression, suppressed demonstrations and closed down local media. Sometimes people abused the freedom of expression and Burundi said that no one was above the law, and cautioned that there was a need to draw distinction between demonstrations and insurgency. The Government was working towards holding free and fair elections.

Uzbekistan, speaking in a right of reply, was consistently working to promote and protect human rights and strengthen the rule of law. It was regularly monitoring places of detention and was developing national preventive mechanisms. In November 2014, the National Action Plan had been adopted for the implementation of the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review and by other human rights treaty bodies.

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply concerning comments on the death penalty, said Pakistan was aware of the international law on the subject and had not violated any of its provisions. Pakistan had lifted its 2008 moratorium on the death penalty in 2014 after being criticized for not doing its utmost to address terrorism. The use of the death penalty was a criminal justice issue and it was a sovereign right of States to choose their own justice system.

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the allegations that the judiciary in the country was not independent. It was stressed that no power could interfere in its proceedings and decisions. As for the death sentence, according to Egyptian law it could be applied in certain cases. Freedom of association and assembly was also upheld, as long as it did not jeopardize public order and security. The allegations of civilians being delegated to the military court were false, except for crimes that were direct assaults on military facilities. The number of civil society organizations was increasing, and Egypt rejected any attempt of using human rights for political purposes.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply in response to the remarks made by the delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said it was regrettable that that country was making such false accusations, which held no merit. The field structure in Seoul was established in accordance to the relevant decisions of the United Nations bodies. The Republic of Korea called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully cooperate with the field based office in order to improve the human rights situation on the ground.

Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply, clarified that the Crimean people had decided to realize their right to self-determination in line with international law. As for the right of the Crimean Tatars and other national minorities, they had full access to their rights. Any violations of human rights were monitored by a relevant body and sanctioned if proven true. The United States continued to consider themselves as a model of democracy, but it continued to violate human rights at home and abroad, such as freedom of speech, xenophobia and violations in the penitentiary system. Serious problems of racism and xenophobia, including the endorsement of neo-Nazism, also existed in the European Union.

Maldives, speaking in a right of reply, said a non-governmental organization’s statement on the human rights situation in Maldives was based on false accusations. Maldives was a peaceful country, and most protests were held peacefully. Some individuals had been arrested in connexion to violence during some protests. Maldives had always encouraged cooperation, transparency and mutual respect. The former President was serving a jail sentence on terrorism charges.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply in response to statements by Japan and Republic of Korea, said Japan had committed atrocities in the last century, including sexual slavery known as comfort women. The current Japanese authorities remained a long way from sincere acknowledgment. The authorities of the Republic of Korea were using security legislation to violate human rights, and it was clear that the Office of the High Commissioner there had a political agenda to implement the will of the United States.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a right of reply, said the Syrian regime had lost credibility in the whole world. Saudi Arabia was committed to protect the rights of its people, based on Sharia law. In response to Iceland and Israel, Saudi Arabia categorically rejected foreign interference in its judicial affairs. Saudi Arabia condemned countries financially supporting terrorism.

Cuba, speaking in a right of reply, drew attention to police violence and citizen insecurity in the United States and said that human rights were being systematically violated in developed countries. Cuba would continue to respect the human rights of its entire people, contribute to the exercise of those rights in other countries, and continue to encourage civil society to participate in all public spaces so that they could contribute to the construction of the society that Cuba wanted without outside interference.

Indonesia, speaking in a right of reply, said that countries which retained the death penalty should always apply it with utmost caution and in full compliance with international law. The death penalty served as a deterrent against most serious crimes in a society.

Iran, speaking in a right of reply, was firmly convinced that manipulation of the Human Rights Council by Saudi Arabia was far from the cause of human rights.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, stated that the international community had adopted resolutions on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2003. It was the time for that country to take concrete measures to promote and protect the rights of its own people, in close cooperation with the field structure.

Japan, speaking in a second right of reply in response to the statement made by the delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, noted that instead of attempts to blame others, that country should take positive actions.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, noted that the Republic of Korea should end the military presence of the United States on its territory. Japan committed crimes against humanity during its military occupation of Korea. The atrocities committed by the Japanese imperialists in Korea were unforgettable, and Japan was called upon to face the crimes it had committed instead of embellishing its history.

1 Joint statement: Franciscans International, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Foundation for GAIA, Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Institute for Planetary Synthesis, Planetary Association for Clean Energy (PACE), Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH), International Movement ATD Fourth World, Edmund Rice International, and Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU).

For use of the information media; not an official record

Myanmar: Armed conflict in Kachin and parts of Shan State continues

24 June 2015 - 11:02pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

Armed conflict in Kachin and parts of Shan State is continuing, despite ongoing ceasefire talks between the Myanmar Government and ethnic armed groups, Burma News International reported on 22 June quoting the Karen Information Centre.

Free Burma Rangers (FBR), a humanitarian organisation delivering frontline assistance to civilians across Myanmar, estimates that there were 127 armed clashes in April and May alone causing hundreds of casualties including both civilians and soldiers.

“This period has seen a major escalation in conflict with heavy fighting in the Kokang Region, Northern Shan State, between the Burma Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army’s (MNDAA),” A FBR report said.

The FBR report noted that the “Burma Army has massively increased its troop levels in the region and has engaged in major military operations, including the use of tanks, heavy artillery barrages and the alleged use of chemical weapons.”

The Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand said that the overall situation in Northern Myanmar had deteriorated sharply this year.

“Since February 2015, an estimated 100,000 people have been displaced from the Kokang area, adding to over 120,000 already displaced in Kachin areas since 2011.”

KWAT has documented more than 70 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by government forces since the conflict started.

World: Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Positions (19 June 2015)

24 June 2015 - 1:30pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Myanmar: Case study: Epidemic preparedness in Myanmar

24 June 2015 - 7:34am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies, Myanmar Red Cross Society Country: Myanmar

Adaptation and roll-out of Epidemic Control for Volunteers’ (ECV) Toolkit and Training Manual in Myanmar / Myanmar Red Cross Society / 2015

Background

Myanmar is the largest country in mainland South-East Asia and is vulnerable to a wide range of hazards including floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis.
Over the last decade the country has dealt with the devastating effects of Cyclone Nargis (May 2008); which severely impacted the Ayeyarwady and Yangon divisions, and Cyclone Giri that hit Rakhine State (October 2010). Rural areas, some unreachable by modern transportation methods, are the most vulnerable to disasters.

Communities across the country are also faced with chronic threats from communicable diseases, food insecurity and malnutrition. The impact of communicable diseases on the community varies between urban and rural areas, with potential for outbreaks in rural communities higher than in urban society. Malaria also presents a significant problem in Myanmar with approximately 76 percent of the population (7,931,446) living in high-risk malaria areas, divided into 80 endemic townships of 15 States and Regions. National statistics indicate over 200,000 laboratory-confirmed cases per year.

The evolving political context has resulted in changes to the health care system, in terms of administration and roles and responsibilities, however the Ministry of Health remains the major provider of comprehensive health care.
Health care is organized and provided through the public and private sectors with significant numbers of the population relying on traditional medicine.

In line with the National Health Policy, Myanmar Red Cross Society is taking some share of service provision, its role increasingly important as the need for collaboration becomes more apparent. Myanmar Red Cross Society community health volunteers are part of the health workforce in Myanmar, especially in relation to preparedness and response to emergencies and disease outbreaks/epidemics. Myanmar Red Cross Society also continues to run programmes for combating HIV,tuberculosis and malaria

Myanmar: Where Next in Latest Ceasefire Deadlock?

24 June 2015 - 1:03am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By NYEIN NYEIN / THE IRRAWADDY

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Cynicism, suspicion and deadlock have occasionally boiled over in the course of Burma’s arduous ceasefire talks, and so they have once again.

The 18-month-long talks between government and ethnic peace negotiators culminated in a provisional agreement on the draft text for a nationwide ceasefire agreement at the end of March, the first step towards political dialogue and the emergence of a genuine federal system of governance.

Things seemed to be proceeding smoothly and the mood in government circles was optimistic until the conclusion of an ethnic armed group conference, in the Karen National Union-controlled Law Khee Lar region, on June 8. There, ethnic leaders established a new negotiating bloc to replace the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) in order to press their demands for 15 amendments to the draft text.

On Monday, the government’s Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) made clear its reluctance to accept the amendment proposals and accept the new negotiating bloc, which it regards as comprised of “hardliners”, during an informal meeting with a delegation led by NCCT chair Nai Hong Sar. Meanwhile, government and ethnic negotiators plan to hold yet another meeting with an unknown agenda next month in the Thai city of Chiang Mai.

The lack of trust in the government side is reflected in the stated desire of ethnic leaders at Law Khee Lar summit to postpone the nationwide ceasefire accord until after this year’s general election. Underpinning that lack of trust is a wariness of the old divide-and-rule tactics employed against ethnic insurgents during the junta era, which also explains why the summit resolved to withhold an agreement until armed groups currently battling the government are allowed to participate as signatories.

As a result of the summit, ceasefire negotiations could stretch years into the future. After placing such a premium on reaching an accord before the 2015 elections, the government is now uneasy and embarrassed after having touted the success of the draft text agreement in March.

Rangoon-based political analyst Yan Myo Thein told The Irrawaddy that the government should accept the new negotiating bloc in the hopes of expediting a ceasefire agreement.

“The longer time the government takes to accept them, the longer the delay in finalizing the nationwide ceasefire agreement text, and the longer the delay in signing it,” he said.

But government negotiators, who said after the draft text agreement they were ready to sign and waited more than two months before they were ultimately rebuffed, do not want a repeat of the experience.

According to sources close to the government-affiliated Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), President’s Office minister and MPC chief Aung Min, as well as the military, are upset that they have been blindsided by the new bloc. The government would prefer the bloc included the heads of the various ethnic armed groups it represents, rather than those who were not in a position to make binding promises.

On the other side, ethnic leaders have remained steadfast in their commitment to a ceasefire agreement and subsequent peace talks that guarantee autonomy and a federal union. The prevailing sentiment at the Law Khee Lar summit was that the NCCT had bent too far to the government’s will, and a new team was needed to enshrine ethnic demands that would have otherwise been deferred until after the agreement was signed.

How negotiators will overcome the present deadlock is yet to be seen, but there is a growing sense of inevitability that the next steps in the ceasefire negotiations will be the responsibility of the next government.

In the words of Dr Emma Leslie, the executive director of Cambodia-based Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and a close observer of ceasefire talks in Chiang Mai, “This peace process will continue into next administration and will have to be robust enough to face many more changes and many more setbacks.”

The last 18 months have shown that both sides are willing to set aside lingering mistrust and negotiate their way out of periodic stalemates. At the same time, past experience suggests this latest deadlock won’t be the last.

Thailand: Karen rights plan gets govt nod

24 June 2015 - 12:52am
Source: Bangkok Post Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Republished with permission. © Post Publishing PCL. www.bangkokpost.com'

The cabinet yesterday approved the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation's plan to improve the living conditions of Karen people in the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Phetchaburi province.

The approval was made ahead of the 39th session of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)'s World Heritage Committee (WHC) to be held in Bonn, Germany, from Sunday to July 8.

The Thai delegation, led by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan, will meet WHC members to give updates on progress in ecosystem conservation and the government's plan to improve the Karen's living conditions.

The delegation will also prepare to seek World Heritage status for the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex next year.

The cabinet's decision to accept the plan was seen as a response to a recent request by the Karen and human rights activists that the WHC deny the Thai government's bid to have the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex selected as a heritage site.

They said the process was being done without their participation.

Permanent secretary of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, Kasemsun Chinnawaso, said the WHC would allow Gen Dapong to explain to its 21 members about efforts by Thai authorities to protect the human rights of Karen people in the forest complex.

This comes after recent reports emerged of alleged human rights abuses including the case of a Karen activist who disappeared following a dispute with forestry officials.

Mr Kasemsun said the plan includes providing land for Karen people so they can use it for living and growing crops.

The government will set up measures to allow them to participate in conservation of the forest complex, if it is successfully selected as a world heritage site.

Government deputy spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday the Thai delegation is obligated to address all concerns over the nomination of the forest complex for heritage status if asked by the WHC.

Mr Kasemsun said Gen Dapong would also inform them of the ministry's progress in reviewing the forest complex's plant and animal biodiversity, including extinction risks facing forest wildlife. Human rights and the forest's ecological health are the main concerns raised by the WHC and it needs to see the country's action plan, he said.

"Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex itself has outstanding value as a biological system, which perfectly matches the WHC's criteria to be inducted as a world heritage site.

"But unfortunately, [over past years] we have received complaints of human right abuses against the Karen people there. We have to explain what we have done to [protect their rights] to the world community," he said.

The forest complex was on the tentative list for registration in 2011. The authorities have raised their hopes it would win heritage site designation next year.

Meanwhile, the Thai delegation will propose the Lanna Culture Complex in Chiang Mai be included on the tentative list of world heritage sites at the WHC session in Bonn.

Myanmar: Myanmar Parliament Begins Debate on Bill to Amend Constitution

23 June 2015 - 10:09pm
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Myanmar’s Union parliament on Tuesday began debate on a bill proposing changes to the country’s military-drafted constitution, with some democracy advocates saying its provisions fall short of hoped-for reforms, sources said.

Discussions by lawmakers on key points, including changes to procedures to amend the country’s 2008 charter, will continue until June 25, when a final vote on the bill is expected.

Political opposition figures are seeking amendments to Article 436 of the constitution, which guarantees Myanmar’s military a quarter of the seats in parliament through appointment, giving them an effective veto over proposed charter reform.

Also being sought are changes to Article 59 of the constitution, which makes opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi ineligible for the country’s presidency because her sons are British citizens.

Likely domination of Thursday’s vote by appointed lawmakers from Myanmar’s military may doom all chances for reform, though, a parliamentarian from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) said on Tuesday.

“At least 75 percent of votes cast must be in favor for changes to be made,” USDP lawmaker Thura Aye Myint said during the debate.

“After that, a public referendum must be held in which at least 50 percent of the public agrees to the proposed changes,” he said.

However, to obtain at least 75 percent of favorable votes in the parliament, at least one of those votes must be cast by a military member of parliament (MP), Thura Aye Myint said.

“This will make it impossible to make changes,” he said.

Military 'trying to keep control'

“We want a 5 percent reduction of the minimum vote required from 75 percent to 70 percent,” agreed Arakan National Party MP Pe Than, speaking to RFA’s Myanmar Service on Tuesday.

“The military is trying to keep control so that nothing can be done without their consent,” he said.

Myanmar’s people want the number of military MPs in parliament to be “gradually reduced, within a fixed time frame,” Pe Than said, adding, “They also want Article 59 to be changed.”

“All these hopes are being shattered,” he said.

This week’s debate on constitution reform comes at the end of a two-year process that began in March 2013, and which has now “picked up pace” with the approach of general elections scheduled for late October or early November, The Myanmar Times said in a June 23 report.

Even if the bill proposed this week becomes law, a push for further reforms will almost certainly continue, said Oxford University legal scholar Andrew McLeod, quoted in The Times.

“I doubt these amendments will satisfy the calls for constitutional reform,” said McLeod, who advised and provided support to the Myanmar parliamentary committees that developed them.

“The demand for reform of the constitution will remain on the agenda for some time yet,” he said.

Reported by Thin Thirri for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh rejects Myanmar "proposal" to link migrant return to freeing guard

23 June 2015 - 5:47pm
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Source: Reuters - Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:32 GMT

Author: Reuters

DHAKA, June 23 (Reuters) - Bangladesh's border guard said on Monday it turned down a proposal it said Myanmar had made to return a captured officer if Dhaka also took in some 600 illegal migrants from a people trafficking ship intercepted by the Myanmar navy.

Read the story on the Thompson Reuters Foundation

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 17–23 June 2015

23 June 2015 - 9:32am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Haiti, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Snapshot 17–23 June 2015

Yemen: 2.3 million more people are food insecure than in March – the total is now at 12.9 million people. 279 children have been killed and 402 injured in the conflict, out of almost 2,600 total deaths and 11,000 injured. 53 health facilities have been damaged. Peace talks have ended with no agreement.

DRC: 17,000 IDPs in Orientale province are in dire need of food, shelter, and NFIs. Refugees who have arrived recently from Burundi will be granted refugee status. In South Kivu, fighting since mid-May has displaced thousands, and schools and other services are not functioning.

South Sudan: Around 14,000 South Sudanese refugees fled to Sudan between 12 and 14 June, due to the recent escalation of violence in Upper Nile state. In Juba, 73 suspected cases of cholera have been recorded.

Updated: 23/06/2015. Next update: 30/06/2015

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Myanmar: Rakhine State Monthly Snapshot June 2015

23 June 2015 - 8:30am
Source: UN Children's Fund, WASH Cluster Country: Myanmar

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH

  • Maintenance and Operation of infrastruture are re-enforced, adapting to the change of camp geographical set up with the development in some location of Individual temporay Shelter, ensuring also an upgrade before the raining season

  • Positiong paper under development to support returns and ending of displacement, affirming the centrality of the protection in any futur process

  • Dry season end up, while refling of pound are expected in June

  • Hygiene Promotion Working group launched to support more creative appraoch as PHAST, social marketting...

World: FAO in the 2015 Humanitarian Appeals: Enhancing Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods - Mid-Year Update

23 June 2015 - 7:45am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Iraq, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Foreword

In 2015, the world continues to face an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises.

Over USD 750 million are required to address the immediate challenges facing agriculture and food security in the countries and regions highlighted in this mid-year review of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) participation in the 2015 humanitarian appeals. Even though agriculture is a source of livelihood for 75 percent of the population in most of the affected countries and the FAO appeal only represents a tiny fraction of the overall humanitarian needs, resource partners’ contributions received to date barely cover 20 percent of FAO’s appeal. And the needs are bigger than ever.

Most recently, Nepal’s devastating earthquakes severely impacted farming families. The deepening food security and nutrition crisis in South Sudan is raising serious concerns and the number of severely food insecure people is expected to escalate from 2.5 million at the beginning of the year to at least 4.6 million by July. The situation is likely to be even worse if the renewed conflict in Greater Upper Nile continues to spiral down.

Globally, conflict and protracted crises are further weakening the resilience of families and communities in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Together these crises account for about 50 percent of FAO’s total appeal. Millions of people, many of them food insecure and suffering from malnutrition, are fleeing violence in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, and now Burundi. Without assets or livelihoods, they mostly depend on humanitarian assistance for their very survival. These displacements have knock-on effects, often destabilizing neighbouring countries and placing increased pressure on already strained service infrastructure and food availability in camps and host communities.

World: FAO in the 2015 Humanitarian Appeals: Enhancing Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods

23 June 2015 - 7:45am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Iraq, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Foreword

The idea of losing one’s assets to a flood or conflict, or enduring hunger day after day is an unlikely prospect for most readers of this document. In the event that a disaster strikes, there is a cupboard full of canned goods to tide us over and an insurance settlement with which to rebuild. For one-third of the world’s population, however, disaster can instantly destroy a family’s home, a lifetime of accumulated assets, and any means with which to restore their livelihoods.

As we present this appeal in early 2015, hazards and crises threaten 2.5 billion people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. The number of acute humanitarian emergencies has increased tremendously. In the past year alone, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has responded to system-wide Level 3 emergencies in the Central African Republic, Iraq, the Philippines, South Sudan and Syria, and supported the response to Ebola in West Africa.

FAO plays a unique role in responding to these crises. From day one of a humanitarian emergency, we start to protect and restore the livelihoods of affected farmers, fishers, herders and foresters. The immediate provision of feed saves livestock from starvation at a fraction of their replacement cost. Seed assistance restores the self-sufficiency and dignity of vulnerable farming families, reducing the need for food assistance. By integrating relief and development activities, FAO’s resilience building efforts save livelihoods while helping communities lay the foundations for their own long-term recovery.

Last year, conflict and natural disaster forced millions to abandon their farms and livestock in countries such as the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, among others. Without assets or livelihoods, they have no choice but to depend on humanitarian assistance. FAO’s mission is to help these people once again start producing food for their families and communities, and eventually return to their homes and fields.

In 2014, a food crisis was contained in the Central African Republic, where FAO helped over 110 000 families plant their fields while the World Food Programme provided food assistance to help them cope until the harvest. In South Sudan, joint efforts in the food security, livelihoods and nutrition sectors helped 2 million people avert famine and severe food insecurity. FAO’s programmes in Somalia combine cash-for-work activities, livestock redistribution, animal health support, and seeds and tools for the next planting season. Despite these efforts, over 4.7 million people in these countries remain severely food insecure.

In addition to these crises, an estimated 9.8 million people are food insecure in Syria, including 6.8 million in critical need of food and agriculture support.

Almost 20 million people in the Sahel are food insecure, as well as millions more in Afghanistan, Iraq, West Bank and Gaza Strip, Yemen and other priority countries.

In 2015, FAO seeks USD 697 million to assist around 30 million crisis-affected people in 31 countries. With your support, we can help these vulnerable families better withstand current and future crises and regain their self-sufficiency, livelihoods and lives.

Thailand: The Border Consortium E-Letter: Issue 24, June 2015

23 June 2015 - 1:55am
Source: The Border Consortium Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Situation update

Peace process:

190 people, including senior representatives from 17 ethnic armed organisations, participated in a Summit to review the Draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement from June 2-9 in Karen State. A number of amendments were proposed to the common text which had been drafted over the past 18 months by the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) representing the ethnic armed organisations and the Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC) representing the Government. The Summit also reiterated the importance of including all ethnic armed organisations in the process of negotiating a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and appointed a High Level Delegation to oversee ongoing discussions with the Government. Nonetheless, the likelihood of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement being reached and substantive political dialogue commencing before the elections scheduled for November 2015 appears remote.

Trafficking, Irregular Migration and Refugees:

A crackdown on human trafficking in Thailand led to the discovery of mass graves near the border with Malaysia during May and international attention on the plight of Rohingya and Bengali refugees and migrants. 90,000 people are estimated to have been smuggled by boat across the Andaman Sea since the beginning of 2014. Already stateless and struggling with severe restrictions on their movements and access to basic rights, the Rohingya have been further marginalised in Myanmar during this period by the rise of religious hatred and the passage of a discriminatory Population Control Law. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have at various times adopted a push-back policy and not allowed the boats to reach land or even remain in their territorial waters. This stance was softened following a regional meeting on 29th May that included representation from the USA and other Western Governments. Local Thai authorities conducted some preliminary assessments as to whether the refugee camps could accommodate the “boat people” but this appears unlikely. With the onset of the wet season and the end of the sailing season, the scale of irregular migration may decrease in the coming months but the causes of vulnerability and flight remain.

World Refugee Day

The Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO) recognised World Refugee Day on June 20 by reiterating calls for the international community to respect the voices and rights of refugees from Burma/Myanmar. KWO’s statement noted “the conditions that led to refugees to flee in the first place have yet to be resolved”. Despite preliminary ceasefire agreements, ongoing militarisation undermines security in areas of potential return. KWO also expressed concern that reductions in international assistance and an increase in restrictions in movement are challenging refugees’ subsistence in Thailand. Looking to the future, genuine and regular consultation with, and participation by, refugees in planning was highlighted as essential to ensuring a sustainable return process.

Malaysia: Malaysia bids sombre farewell to nameless Rohingya dead

22 June 2015 - 4:08pm
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Malaysia, Myanmar

Kampung Tualang, Malaysia | AFP | Monday 6/22/2015 - 07:27 GMT

by Manan VATSYAYANA

Malaysian authorities on Monday held a sombre mass funeral for 21 suspected ethnic Rohingya found in human-trafficking graves last month, with fellow Muslims praying for the unidentified victims to find a place in heaven.

The remains were what police said were the first of 106 exhumed so far from pits at trafficking camps found in late May in jungles in northern Malaysia along the Thai border, a discovery that laid bare the brutal extent of the region's migrant crisis.

About 100 local villagers offered quiet Muslim prayers as 21 wooden coffins -- containing 19 men and two women -- were lowered into deep graves cleared by earth-movers at an Islamic graveyard in the northern state of Kedah.

The discovery of camps and graves on both sides of the Thai-Malaysian border and a flood of thousands of starving boat people to Southeast Asian shores in May has highlighted the plight of the Rohingya.

A Muslim minority from Myanmar, they have for years sought to escape what they say is worsening persecution by the country's Buddhist majority.

Fleeing abroad by the thousands each year, they typically put their lives in the hands of often brutal smugglers and traffickers who arrange a perilous passage by sea and land, usually destined for Muslim-majority Malaysia.

"These are innocent Muslims, like brothers and sisters to us. We are really sad that they had to undergo misery and pain. I am sure they will take their rightful place in the heavens above," said Mohamad Yusuf Ali, 57, a local carpenter of Rohingya origin.

Despite not knowing the unidentified victims, scores of Malaysians and Rohingya turned out for the ceremony in the sleepy village of Kampung Tualang despite fasting for the month of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, the faithful avoid consuming food or liquid during daylight hours, offer more prayers, and reflect on what it means to be Muslim.

  • 'Allah will punish the traffickers' -

"I hope Allah will punish the criminals who were responsible for their deaths. The Rohingya people did not do anything wrong. They were only looking for a better life," Mohamad Yusuf said.

A Malaysian police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the remains of 106 people had been exhumed so far and that authorities were still conducting post-mortems on the majority of them.

Police had earlier said 139 grave sites were found at more than two dozen abandoned jungle camps in the Malaysian state of Perlis. They are yet to offer a final tally of dead, or announce the suspected causes of death.

A government minister said last month that 12 Malaysian police officers were being investigated for possible involvement in the camps, but authorities have since released no new information on their investigations.

Earlier in May, Thai police said seven camps were found on their side, and 33 bodies have been discovered. Fifty-one people have been arrested, including a senior army general, and more are being sought.

Rights groups -- which have long accused Malaysian authorities of tolerating abusive and deadly human-trafficking -- and the US government have called for a full and transparent investigation.

"The (traffickers) will never have a place in heaven. All for money, they are prepared to beat and kill a human being," Mohamad Noor Abu Bakar, 48, a Rohingya Muslim resident of Malaysia, told AFP.

mv-jsm/dma/eb

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Dengue fever doubles in Burma this year

22 June 2015 - 8:47am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

Thirty-seven persons in Burma have died of dengue fever so far this year, according to the Ministry of Health, which warned that the rate of infection in the first half of 2015 is double that of the same period last year.

Speaking at a coordination meeting on the prevention of dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) in Naypyidaw on Friday, Minister of Health Dr Than Aung said that as of 17 June, 8,475 cases of the disease have been reported in Burma this year.

According to the ministry, the administrative regions with the highest infection rates across the country are Rangoon and Mandalay divisions, and Mon State. People living in these areas were advised by the ministry to remain vigilant. my As the majority of DHF infections have been reported among schoolchildren, health officials advised prioritising preventive measures, such as removing potential mosquito habitats around schools.

Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes. As there is no commercially available vaccine, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites.

DHF is nowadays more common in Southeast Asia and India than in Africa, where it originated. The most dangerous period for contracting dengue is during the rainy season and monsoon season, which in most of Burma runs from June to September.

Myanmar: Council conclusions on forthcoming elections in Myanmar/Burma

22 June 2015 - 8:09am
Source: European Union Country: Myanmar

22/06/2015 13:20 Press release 488/15 Foreign affairs & international relations

  1. The European Union reiterates its strong commitment and continued support for Myanmar/Burma's democratic and economic transition in accordance with the Comprehensive Framework as adopted by the Council on 22 July 2013. It welcomes enhanced EU-Myanmar/Burma cooperation including the holding of two rounds of EU-Myanmar/Burma Human Rights Dialogue, the signing of a framework agreement between the European Investment Bank and the Government of Myanmar/Burma, the ongoing negotiations on an EU-Myanmar/Burma Investment Protection Agreement and the EU recently joining the Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labour Rights and Practices in Myanmar/Burma.

  2. Elections in 2015 will be an important milestone in the democratic transition of Myanmar/Burma and an opportunity to confirm that reforms are irreversible. The Council welcomes the holding of political dialogue in various formats between major actors, including the President, the speakers of Parliament, the Commander-in-Chief, the opposition and the ethnic political parties. The conduct of elections in a peaceful environment will contribute towards a democratic Myanmar/Burma based on respect for human rights and rule of law for all its people.

  3. The European Union follows closely negotiations between the Government of Myanmar/Burma and ethnic armed groups on the text of a nationwide ceasefire agreement and encourages continued progress towards signature. It encourages all leaders to continue to work together towards peace and national reconciliation, in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Myanmar/Burma.

  4. The Council reaffirms its call for the conduct of democratic, inclusive, credible and transparent elections in which all the people of Myanmar/Burma, including persons belonging to minorities, can fully exercise their political rights and cast their vote and where a level playing field is ensured for all candidates. The participation of women in the electoral process should be encouraged. Full respect for fundamental rights including freedoms of expression, association and assembly is key for ensuring an open and inclusive process.

  5. Arrangements for former Temporary Registration Card holders should urgently be put in place and their political representation and participation ensured. The disenfranchisement of white card holders risks further fuelling the sentiment of alienation of the Rohingya. A durable solution to the issue of citizenship would also contribute towards addressing the root causes of the migratory crisis in the Andaman Sea. The Council is preoccupied by the dire situation of thousands of migrants in the Andaman Sea and highlights the need for a regional response to save lives and tackle human trafficking.

  6. The European Union welcomes the invitation by the Union Election Commission to observe the elections in 2015. It encourages continued consultations between the Union Election Commission and political parties and civil society to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections.

  7. The Council appreciates the good cooperation between the Union Election Commission and its international partners in preparing the elections. In this context, the European Union is providing electoral support to bring election management practices in line with international standards. This will cover domestic election monitoring, voter education, public outreach targeting minorities and assistance to develop media capacity. Transparency and unhindered access by media and observers will enhance public confidence in the integrity of the elections.

  8. The European Union welcomes the adoption by consensus of resolutions on the 'Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar' in the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council and urges the Government of Myanmar/Burma to implement the recommendations.

Myanmar: Chin civilians bear brunt of conflict in Paletwa, Chin State

21 June 2015 - 10:54pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) today condemned both the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar Army for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, in the context of recent outbreaks of conflict between the two sides in Paletwa, southern Chin State in a media release dated 15 June.

CHRO urged the authorities to cooperate with UN agencies and the international community to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to more than 350 Khumi Chin internally-displaced persons (IDPs), who will run out of food supplies before the end of this month.

CHRO’s briefing describes how the community of Khumi Chin indigenous people were forced to flee when their village of Pyin So,where there is a Myanmar Army military outpost, came under direct attack by the Arakan Army at the end of March.

Around 6pm on 28 March, about 40 armed soldiers from non-ceasefire ethnic armed group the Arakan Army approached the village. On their way to the village, they detained 8Khumi Chin men, two of whom managed to escape and were able to warn the villagers of the impending attack. The eight Myanmar Army soldiers stationed there left their outpost and took up positions around the village. Fighting broke out late that night, and again early the next morning, and Myanmar Army Captain Kyaw Htet Aung was killed. After the Arakan Army effectively seized control of the village, they ordered the Pyin So villagers to dig a grave and bury the body of the Captain. Another ten men were forcibly taken by the Arakan Army to porter their loads for them to the border with Bangladesh.

The primary school in the village was destroyed in the fighting, as well as the schoolteacher’s hostel and two other homes. The roofs were heavily damaged and the properties riddled with bullet holes. Both the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army have allegedly laid landmines around Pyin So village.

“This is yet another case where ordinary civilians, this time Khumi Chin indigenous people, bear the brunt of armed conflict in Myanmar and suffer human rights violations,” said Rachel Fleming, CHRO’s Advocacy Director. “The long-standing pattern of abuses hasn’t stopped; in fact we see it escalating in the Paletwa area.”

Myanmar: Hundreds of migrants waiting repatriation

21 June 2015 - 9:22pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

More than 700 people rescued from a boat in Myanmar waters last month are still being held in the western state of Rakhine. Authorities verifying their citizenship claim most of them are from both neighbouring Bangladesh, while the rest are Rohingyas according to a report by Channel News Asia on 17 June.

At the shelter housing the rescued migrants Ya Ya Khant is known as number 173 to the authorities, but to his family, he's a lost son.

The Myanmar Navy rescued him, together with these other migrants on their way to hopefully find employment in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. The 25-year-old had been living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Rakhine and desperately wanted to make a better life for himself.

“We are not fine. There are no jobs at the refugee camps. That's why we left for Malaysia,” he said. “Dead or alive, we are leaving for Malaysia, because we have no job. We know we have to work six months for US$2,000 (to pay off the broker). We are then able to send the money to our family after six months. That's why we are leaving.”

The Myanmar government recently repatriated 150 people to Bangladesh. The remaining 700 would-be migrants housed in a temporary shelter will be next in line.

Ya Ya Khant’s hopes of starting a new life have been shattered, all he wants right now is to return to the IDP camp and let his family know that he's alive and well. The Myanmar government maintains that Ya Ya Khant, and other migrants like him, leave for economic reasons and not because they are persecuted.

"Even though we try to stop the smuggling and trafficking, they are still leaving of their free will through their own connections,” said Rakhine Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn. “It does not make sense that the boat people are fleeing from the camps because Myanmar is torturing them. We might have our weak points but that doesn't cause them to flee.”

Some left because they wanted to find a job in a different country, some left because they were tricked into doing so. Others could no longer bear the life filled with restrictions. However, one thing remains clear. Many of them remain extremely worried today, and that is because their future ahead lies with greater uncertainty.

For now, many of them take comfort in the knowledge that they are no longer drifting aimlessly at sea. And even though regional governments have addressed the migrant issue temporarily, a long term solution is yet to be found.

World: Landmines/ERW, Refugees and Displacement

20 June 2015 - 6:27am
Source: International Campaign to Ban Landmines Country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, World

Recognizing record high and increasing levels of global displacement and ongoing impact of landmines and cluster munitions, today the Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Monitor Casualties and Victim Assistance team is publishing Landmines/ERW, Refugees and Displacement, a timely new briefing paper that expands upon and updates developments since the last Monitor report on these important topics in 2013 “Landmines and Refugees: The Risks and the Responsibilities to Protect and Assist Victims.”

This briefing paper update focuses on refugees fleeing from, or into, countries contaminated by landmines and other explosive hazards, including cluster munitions and on the assistance provided to survivors of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) who are refugees or displaced persons.

The Intersessional Meetings to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, on 22-23 June 2015. At this meeting, States Parties will report on efforts made and plans to implement their treaty obligations. States that have not yet joined the Convention will present updates on steps they are taking towards joining. The Mine Ban Treaty will hold its 2015 Intersessional Meetings in Geneva from 25-26 June 2015. Monitor briefing papers and factsheets are issued several times per year, usually surrounding major international meetings.

The Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Monitor is the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC). The ICBL was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to eradicate landmines. Factsheet content is often drawn from the most recent annual Monitor reports and online thematic country profiles available at the-monitor.org.