U.S. Statement at the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

35th Session of the Human Rights Council
U.S. Statement as Delivered by Jessica Carl

Geneva,
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mr. President,

The United States thanks Dr. Yanghee Lee for her reporting on the human rights situation in Myanmar.  We are concerned by her reports of grave human rights violations and abuses against Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State, and against other members of minority groups in Kachin and Shan States.  We urge the Government of Myanmar to protect local populations and grant full humanitarian and media access in these areas, investigate reports of human rights violations in a credible and transparent manner, hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and safeguard those who report on them.

We join Dr. Lee in commending the Government of Myanmar for releasing scores of convicted political prisoners ahead of the second session of the 21st Century Panglong Conference.  We look forward to the many ways in which newly released activists, dissidents, and members of ethnic and religious minority groups will contribute to Myanmar’s transition towards federal democracy.  We are encouraged by the Government of Myanmar’s efforts to engage in dialogue regarding peace and national reconciliation and to enact legislation to strengthen respect for human rights and rule of law.  We welcome reports of the Government’s commitment to remove criminal penalties from Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act, a provision which is inconsistent with international standards of freedom of expression and press, and we hope to see meaningful reforms introduced to parliament in the near future.

We are concerned that the Government of Myanmar continues to use laws that do not comport with international standards of human rights to arrest and detain prisoners of conscience, including Khine Myo Htun , a human rights activist who criticized the military for employing torture and forced labor; Dr. Than Htut Aung and Wai Phyo Aung , media executives who reported on alleged corruption in the Yangon government; Kachin pastors Nawng Latt  and Gam Seng, who informed journalists that the military bombed a local church; and hundreds of Rohingya villagers, including children, who have reportedly been arbitrarily detained in northern Rakhine State.

Dr. Lee, what next steps would you recommend to the Government of Myanmar regarding human rights and democracy reforms?

Thank you.