Media Statement – 10 May 2021
APF Chairperson’s statement on the situation in Myanmar
The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) strongly condemns the military coup in Myanmar of 1 February 2021 and the subsequent assumption of power by the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing.
As a coalition of 25 national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific region, we are deeply concerned about the continuing violence in Myanmar, where more than 765 civilian protesters have reportedly been killed, and at least 3,500 people imprisoned, since the events of 1 February.
We call on the Myanmar military to immediately cease all forms of violence against protesters and to release all political prisoners. We encourage the military to adopt ASEAN’s five-point consensus plan and to work towards a peaceful political solution to the current situation, including a return to democracy and respect for the rule of law.
The people of Myanmar should be able to depend on a robust and vigilant NHRI to effectively monitor and take action on the alleged human rights violations taking place during the current state of emergency.
We therefore are deeply concerned about the current inability of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) to perform its mandated functions in line with the Paris Principles, the standards by which all NHRIs must operate to be legitimate, credible and effective in promoting and protecting human rights. The Chairperson, Commissioners and staff of the Commission should also face no reprisals for performing their role.
The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions’ (GANHRI’s) General Observation 2.5 highlights the role an NHRI should play during a coup d’état or state of emergency. It is expected that an NHRI will conduct itself with a heightened level of vigilance and independence, and in strict accordance with its mandate.
NHRIs are expected to promote and ensure respect for human rights, democratic principles and the strengthening of the rule of law in all circumstances and without exception. In situations of conflict or a state of emergency, this may include monitoring, documenting, issuing public statements and releasing regular and detailed reports through the media in a timely manner to address urgent human rights violations.
The APF remains committed to providing support to the MNHRC to assist it to meet these expectations.
~ Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, APF Chairperson