"Worrying" signs of backtracking in pivotal year for Myanmar

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Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Myanmar's authorities have been warned to rapidly address ongoing challenges to the democratic reform process that could undermine the success achieved so far.

The call came from the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the country, Yanghee Lee.

She presented her first report on the situation in Myanmar to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

The human rights expert said she was "very disturbed" by reports of excessive use of force against students and other civilians at a protest on 10 March, when 127 people were subsequently arrested.

Not all of the detainees have been released.

Yanghee Lee said that if Myanmar wants to create a meaningful democratic space, the Governments needs to continue its efforts towards reform.

She said this includes a free and independent media where journalists are not interrogated and arrested.

There are also what she called "worrying" signs of backtracking for the country which is scheduled to hold general elections this year.

"And in the area that I say backtracking has gained momentum is in the shrinking of the democratic space. 2015 is the pivotal year for Myanmar, it will not only define the history of Myanmar but it will also define the future."

The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the alarming escalation of fighting in the Kokang region, where over 100 civilians are reported to have died and tens of thousands have been displaced.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’11″

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