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Human rights policies of various actors in Burma/Myanmar

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Title: Half Empty: Burma’s political parties and their human rights commitments
Date of publication: November 2015
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "On 8 November 2015, Burma's electorate will vote for the representatives who will sit in Parliament from 2016 to 2021. The polls are anticipated to usher in a Parliament that will be markedly different from the body that was installed as a result of the November 2010 election and the April 2012 by-elections. This will be due to the significant number of seats that the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is expected to win. The November 2010 election was tainted by a flawed legal framework, a lack of inclusiveness, widespread corruption, irregularities, and voter fraud, and was boycotted by the NLD. As expected, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) overwhelmingly won the polls. Dominated by the USDP and military-appointed members of Parliament (MPs), Parliament failed to amend or repeal many of Burma’s oppressive laws and blocked key constitutional amendments. In many cases, newly enacted legislation contained provisions that ran counter to international human rights standards. Other new laws prioritized political and economic interests over human rights. In addition, MPs rejected numerous proposals aimed at addressing important human rights issues. The likelihood that the next Parliament’s make-up will be substantially different from the current one does not necessarily mean that lawmakers will be more effective in addressing key human rights issues. This report, based on a survey of the human rights commitments of Burma’s political parties, found that parties generally favored actions aimed at tackling critical issues that have a negative impact on human rights. However, in several of those instances, the report shows that parties failed to identify and prioritize the specific measures that would address key human rights concerns in a direct and effective way. This was particularly true in the areas of legislative reform, ethnic minority rights, and women’s rights, where political considerations seemed to take precedence over human rights concerns. The report’s findings also reflect the disturbing situation regarding religious intolerance in Burma. Forty-two percent of the political parties refused to make any commitments on ways to address discrimination against Muslim Rohingya. More troubling was the fact that several parties aligned themselves with the government’s official position that denies the existence of Rohingya as one of Burma’s ethnic groups. In the final analysis, the alarming result was that almost three quarters of the political parties refused to support the amendment of the 1982 Citizenship Law to give Muslim Rohingya equal access to citizenship rights. In addition, responses in favor of the repeal of recently enacted legislation, misleadingly labeled 'Race and Religion Protection Laws,’ garnered little support among the political parties. The report provides numerous recommendations to MPs, based on statements and reports issued by various UN special procedures as well as resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the UN General Assembly (UNGA). These recommendations provide a clear agenda for parliamentary action to deal with important human rights issues that, if left unaddressed by the newly elected MPs, risk seriously undermining the country’s reform process."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Format/size: pdf (731K-reduced version; 4.55MB-original)
Alternate URLs: https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/burma-bat-5_report.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 November 2015