Candidates running in Myanmar’s parliamentary elections have held their final rallies ahead of Sunday’s historic vote. Many hope the election is a first step in transforming the country to full democracy. ICJ comments on the constitutional obstacles to a free and fair election. Scott Heidler reports from Yangon.
Full Report: http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/ituc-burma.pdf
The International Trade Unions Confederation has released a new report entitled, Foreign Investment in Myanmar: What Impact on Human Rights? The report details the trends in foreign investment, the national legal framework and key impacts on human rights. It provides important information on labour and land issues as well as grievance mechanisms. It looks closely at the operations of some big profile foreign investors form the garment, oil and gas, as well as tourism sectors.
Nov. 2, 2015 11:08 PM EST
HKAPANT, Myanmar (AP) — Brang Shawng had never written a letter to the president before, never even dreamed of it. But he’d heard that his country was changing, and that the military junta in Myanmar had given way to a civilian government. And he believed that in this acclaimed new democracy, he could find justice for a 14-year-old girl shot to death.
So he wrote a letter to President Thein Sein, a former general, telling him how the army had killed his daughter in what witnesses say was a burst of gunfire. He sent a complaint to Myanmar’s human rights commission, launched just four years ago. He asked for an investigation.
What happened next shattered his faith. He got the court case he wanted — but it was not the army that was put on trial.
It was the bereaved father himself.
Daniel Aguirre, an adviser to a non-profit conducting legal training in Myanmar, said the case was representative of everything that was wrong with the system.
“Where do you turn for help?” asked Aguirre, who works in Myanmar for the International Commission of Jurists, a Geneva-based legal advocacy group. “If you have rule of law without human rights, you have the law being used against the people.”
Monday 2 November 2015 12.15 GMT
The Myanmar government has detained at least three people over Facebook posts it deemed offensive in the last few weeks. This crackdown on freedom of expression in the run up to the general elections is of great concern. Only the Myanmar government, and the generals’ lack of sense of humour, are to blame. Yet Facebook could do more to protect its users.
Facebook is Myanmar’s most popular site. It provides a platform to communicate and the illusion that users can do so freely. But controversial posts in Myanmar can result in long jail sentences. The company has spoken out before to educate Myanmar people about hate speech; it should do the same to warn them of the risks they face when exercising their freedom of expression online. Myanmar’s internet freedom status was recently downgraded by Freedom House from “partly free” in 2014 to “not free” in 2015.
The Myanmar government is using laws that allow a wide scope of interpretation of defamation. “Defamation should not result in jail sentences,” said Daniel Aguirre of the International Commission of Jurists, which monitored the first trial of Patrick Kum Ja Lee. “These laws need to be tightened to ensure freedom of expression. Myanmar has extremely limited judicial resources that would be better used guaranteeing a free and fair election.”
Facebook has taken steps to educate people about hate speech. It should also go beyond its responsibility to respect human rights and warn people in Myanmar about the risks they face when using the site.
Irene Pietropaoli is an independent consultant on business and human rights based in Yangon, Myanmar. Follow @IPietropaoli on Twitter.
Article by by | 02 Nov 2015
Burma citizens are experiencing an unprecedented degree of economic and political freedom, but the balance of power has changed little.
RANGOON — The sweeping reforms Burma announced in 2011 after a half-century of crushing military rule seemed too good to be true to much of the outside world. And to some degree, they were.
Burmese citizens are experiencing an unprecedented degree of economic and political freedom, but the balance of power has changed little. Most of those in charge are former military men who have just swapped their khakis for suits and longyi—the sarong-type skirt traditionally favored by both men and women in Burma.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whom the junta kept under house arrest for years, now tours the country stumping for votes. But even if her National League for Democracy wins the Nov. 8 election in a landslide, the odds are that the generals and their cronies will continue to dominate both politics and the economy.
Many familiar with Burma’s government say that while it has made significant reforms in the past five years, it still faces a long journey to achieve a stable, prosperous democracy.
“This is a huge improvement and we have to keep it in context for what it is,” said Daniel Aguirre, legal adviser in Rangoon for the International Commission of Jurists. But he adds, “The prevailing narrative of ‘open for business and everything’s fine’ is completely, way off.”
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