Myanmar defends its human rights record

The Government of Myanmar has been defending its human rights record before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Council has welcomed the release of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, but at the same time has accused the government of serious human rights violations.

Patrick Maigua Reports from Geneva.

Presenting the country’s human rights record under the Universal Periodic review or UPR, Myanmar’s deputy attorney general Tun Shin said his country has long been misunderstood by the international community.

Myanmar has been politicized as a nation that violates Human Rights for many years. Myanmar is handicapped because she has little opportunity to present how she implements human rights from alpha to omega.

The government said a new constitution was recently enacted through a popular vote and democratic and free elections were held in December. Ambassador Wunna Maung Lwin said the two events were part of the country’s seven year transition to democracy.

The people have exercised their democratic right to transform the country to the elected government system. We believe that transition towards democracy is a process, not an event. Therefore we prefer to follow systematic and step by step approach in a peaceful way to attain democracy while taking into account the unique nature of our domestic situation.

However Council members said there was systematic violation of human rights in Myanmar including political repression, ill treatment of prisoners and discrimination of ethnic minorities. United States ambassador Eileen Donahoe said 2,000 political prisoners are languishing in detention.

Those in your country who criticize the government are at risk of harassment arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill treatment, imprisonment and even extra judicial killing, despite statements in your national report discussing freedom of expression and assembly.

The conduct of last November’s general election also drew sharp criticism. Kenichi Suganuma is the representative of Japan.

While Japan finds it regrettable that last Novembers general elections did not take place in a free and fair manner, the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest is one positive step. Japan strongly hopes that the government of Myanmar will take further towards the improvement of human rights situation, democratization and national reconciliation through the release of prisoners of conscience and dialogue with pro democracy movement.

Myanmar’s, newly elected members of the national assembly will meet next week to form a new government, a step the government says will be the final stage in the road map towards democracy.

Patrick Maigua at the United Nations.

 Duration: 2’25”

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