1. On the auspicious occasion of the International Human Rights Day, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) joins the people of Myanmar and the international community in commemorating this historic day.
2. This is a significant year for the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission for the MNHRC Law was enacted by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on 28 March 2014 resulting in the establishment of a new Commission on 24 September 2014 composed of eleven members. One of the objectives of the Law is to create a society where human rights are respected and protected in recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations. In addition to promoting and protecting the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Law also envisions effective promoting and protecting of human rights contained in the international conventions, decisions, regional agreements and declarations accepted by Myanmar. The Commission shall faithfully carry out these objectives.
3. During 2014, the Commission continued its outreach activities to promote and protect human rights at various townships in Ayeyarwaddy, Magwe, Mandalay and Bago regions. Together with the outreach activities of last year, the Commission has been able to visit a total of forty townships in various States and Regions of Myanmar to disseminate human rights knowledge for the benefit of people living in those townships. This year the Commission initiated a new human rights education training programme for the government officials in the seven States of the country with the collaboration of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. The Commission has already conducted these training workshops in Mon, Kayah, Shan, Chin and Kayin States. This training programme will also be conducted in Rakhine and Kachin States before the end of the year. These training programmes will empower the government officials concerned with human rights knowledge which will become useful in seeking remedies to human rights violations.
4. In the area of human rights protection, the reconstituted Commission continued to give careful consideration to the complaints received at the Commission. On learning that the Thai police had arrested two Myanmar workers in connection with the alleged murder and rape of two British couple on 15 September 2014 in Koh Tao Island, Thailand, the MNHRC sent an appeal through the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand in order to give protection to the human rights of the two Myanmar workers in Thailand. In another case concerning the death case of Ko Aung Naing(a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi, under instructions from the President’s Office, the Commission investigatory team led by the Vice Chairperson made a special investigation into the case and had submitted a report to the President. It was also made available to the public through the Commission website.
5. Holding seminars and workshops on human rights subjects is an important function of the Commission. In order to fulfill this function the Commission held several workshops on the international core human rights treaties during 2014. In March 2014, a workshop on Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was held in Nay Pyi Taw attended by high officials from the relevant government Ministries, from the Parliament, and Judiciary. In July 2014, an Introductory Training Workshop on National Inquiries on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held at the Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon. Among the participants at the workshop were the disabled people themselves. In order to bring awareness on the importance of non-racial discrimination, a workshop on International Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), was held in Nay Pyi Taw in August 2014. One high profile event among the workshops held this year was the holding of the “ Training Workshop on Universal Periodic Review (UPR)_ Myanmar”, in Nay Pyi Taw in November 2014, actively participated by the parliamentarians, government officials, civil society representatives and the Commission Members. This workshop was held in preparation for the submission of a National Report under the second cycle of periodic review for Myanmar which is due in 2015.
6. With regard to regional activities, the Chairperson and a Member of the Commission attended the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions in New Delhi from 3-5 September 2014 and took active part in the deliberations of the meeting on APF Strategic Planning (2015-2020). Being a Member of the South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF), the Chairperson and a Member of the Commission attended the 11th Annual Meeting of SEANF held in Bali, Indonesia in November 2014, where the meeting discussed SEANF’s thematic matters including the status of the Strategic Plan of SEANF (2012-2016) and the establishment of a Permanent Secretariat for SEANF. Arranged by the RWI, a team of five Commissioners from MNHRC led by the Chairperson visited the Mongolian Human Rights Commission from 14-17 September 2014 to learn from Mongolian experience and to exchange best practices. During the trip, an agreement was reached for establishing an MOU of cooperation between the two Commissions. The Commission team also visited the China Society for Human Rights Studies, Beijing, from 18-21 September 2014 which is the largest national non-governmental organization in the field of human rights in China. Yangon was also a venue of the Sub-regional Workshops in Mekong Cluster on “EIU: Global Citizenship Education for a Culture of Peace and Sustainability” co-organized by Asia Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) and UNESCO, Bangkok, where the Chairperson of the MNHRC delivered a Keynote speech. The meeting transmitted the message on importance of global education for a culture of peace, human rights and sustainable development. Another noteworthy meeting of this year was the convening of the Workshop on Human Rights and Agribusiness by the MNHRC supported by the Forest Peoples Programme and RECOFTC, at the Kandawgyi Palace, Yangon. The meeting assessed progress made since the Bali Declaration on Human Rights and Agribusiness in Southeast Asia towards building regulatory capacity and standards in Southeast Asia and issued “Yangon Statement on Human Rights and Agribusiness in Southeast Asia”.
7. On this Human Rights Day, the Commission solemnly pledges its commitment to effectively carry out the mandate entrusted to it by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Law enacted by the Parliament on 28 March 2014. We hope to get full cooperation from all the stakeholders concerned in this endeavour.
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
Date: 10 December 2014