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#Burma / Myanmar

#Burma / Myanmar

Despite hopes fuelled by the overwhelming victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in November 2015 parliamentary elections, which set the stage for the peaceful formation of a new government in early 2016, HRDs in Myanmar are still subjected to a range of attacks and abuses. They include extra-judicial killings and violence, discrimination, surveillance, legislative and judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, all of which continued unabated. HRDs working on civil and political rights, minority rights and economic, social, and cultural rights, including land rights, are particularly at risk of being targeted.

Although many HRDs were released under an amnesty granted by President U Htin Kyaw in 2016, restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly remain. Prominent HRDs, often former political prisoners, have reported not being able to obtain passports. Self-censorship in connection with government and military officials is widespread amongst civil society, while the authorities continue to exert pressure on the media. The rising violence against Rohingya communities in northern Myanmar and the Muslim population since August 2017 endangers Rohingya and Muslim HRDs, while community leaders staging interfaith dialogues face arrest and charges. Despite efforts to move the national peace process forward, fighting between the army and ethnic armed groups escalated in northern Myanmar, endangering HRDs working in the area. Impunity persists for past and ongoing human rights violations.

In a positive move, the Emergency Provisions Act – which imposed seven-year prison terms for those deemed to be dissidents - was abolished In October 2016. In May 2016, a new Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Processions Law was passed, correcting some of the flaws of the 2012 statute. However, the law still restricts freedom of assembly and expression in ways that are not in compliance with international human rights standards. Repression of criticism through section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law - providing criminal penalties for defamation online - continued under the NLD-led government. The National Human Rights Commission established in 2011 remains criticized for being ineffective and refusing to investigate violations in ethnic minority areas.