United Nations Orders Inquiry into Severe Rights Violations in Myanmar

Meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Photo: Pierre Albouy/UN Photo

Last Friday, after many weeks of negotiation, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a landmark resolution ordering an independent, international fact-finding mission into allegations of human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar and, in particular, Rakhine State.

Many of our partners have been vocal in calling for this inquiry, and IWDA stands with them in full support of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission.

Human rights abuses by the military have long been documented by our partners, including sexual violence, against ethnic minority women. Alarmingly, the Constitution provides immunity to the military for conflict-related sexual violence.

Most recently, our partner Ta’ang Women’ Organisation produced Trained to Torture, a report which documents human rights abuses in Northern Shan State where armed conflict continues today.

IWDA Partner Women’s League of Burma, together with a group of strong, diverse activists, travelled to the United Nations in Geneva last year to hold the Myanmar Government accountable to its commitments to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

In Women’s League of Burma’s CEDAW Shadow Report, they noted, “for ethnic women, the military is a constant, pervasive, and threatening influence in their lives”.

In a joint statement to the CEDAW Committee, the women noted deeply-rooted discrimination against women, the result of “entrenched patriarchy, decades of oppressive military dictatorship and the continued power and influence of the military throughout society”.

They also emphasised that, despite promising democratic reforms since Myanmar’s transition to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, women have, in large part, not benefited from these reforms. Ongoing conflict with ethnic armed groups has resulted in “unabated human rights abuses against women”.

All women, including those in Rakhine state, deserve a life free from violence. IWDA supports a full inquiry into these blatant violations of human rights.