COVID-19 Special Coverage
UN expert calls for democracy reform and human rights in Myanmar
© WikiMedia (Aung Naing Soe (VOA))
UN expert calls for democracy reform and human rights in Myanmar

UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee urged the Myanmar Government Tuesday to embrace human rights and democracy during her last Human Rights Council report in Geneva.

In her report Lee called on Myanmar to amend its constitution, change citizenship and land laws, and overturn laws that violate fundamental human rights.

“… [I]t is not too late for the country to change course and reorient itself to transform into a democracy that embraces human rights for all,” Lee told the Human Rights Council.

The UN expert also directed the international community to hold Myanmar accountable for human rights abuses against civilians.

“I urge the international community most strongly to support the ongoing international accountability initiatives and ensure that victims are placed at the center of all of these efforts,” Lee said.

Lee’s Human Rights Council address comes after The National League for Democracy (NLD) failed to pass constitutional amendments limiting military powers in parliament.

Military members and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmakers opposing the amendments warned that reducing the military’s role could undermine national unity and military relations with civilians.

Since 2019, armed conflict between the TatmadawMyanmar Armed Forcesand the Arakan has displaced approximately 50,000 people according to the Rakhine State government, but true numbers are likely higher. The crisis led to a mass internet shutdown in Arakan and Chin states while new censorship laws restricting freedom of press blocked access to critical humanitarian aid.

Despite deteriorating human rights conditions, Lee’s report offers Myanmar a clear path to democracy.

“An end to impunity is the [linchpin] for Myanmar to succeed in its transition to democracy. Perpetrators of human rights violations and international crimes must be held accountable,” she reported.