03 October 2022
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN MYANMAR
A former member of the US Congress from Maine, Tom Andrews is a Robina Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale University Law School, an Associate of Harvard University’s Asia Center and has a Washington DC based consulting practice, Andrews Strategic Services. He has worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and parliamentarians, NGOs and political parties in several countries including Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and Yemen.
Andrews served as General Secretary of “The Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma” in 2001 and was a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network. He has run advocacy NGOs including Win Without War and United to End Genocide, led an education institute at the University of Maine and served in the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate. He lives with his wife and son in Fairfax, Virginia outside of Washington DC.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar was first established in 1992 under the Commission on Human Rights Resolution 58 and extended annually. Human Rights Resolution 25/26 adopted 15 April 2014 broadened the mandate to report on the progress in the electoral process and reform in the run-up to the 2015 election. Human Rights Resolution 31/24 adopted 24 March 2016 broadened the mandate to include identifying benchmarks for progress and priority areas for technical assistance and capacity-building.
In July 2022, the military junta of Myanmar executed four political prisoners, including a prominent pro – democracy activist and a former member of parliament.
These unconscionable acts are consistent with the junta’s unflinching embrace of violence against the people of Myanmar. In recent months, military forces have systematically bombed and burned villages and massacred innocent civilians, including 11 children in Sagaing Region who were shot and killed when junta forces attacked their school in September. The forces have killed thousands and displaced nearly 1 million people since the coup. Many of the more than 12,000 political prisoners have been tortured and an unknown number have died in custody.
In the midst of this darkness, however, civil society in Myanmar is a shining light and inspiration. Activists, human rights defenders, aid workers, community leaders, journalists, health – care professionals and educators are among those who are taking great personal risks to document atrocities, deliver humanitarian assistance and respond to the needs of displaced and traumatized communities. Human rights organizations, women’s associations, professional networks, trade unions and labour activists, and grass – roots groups are adopting strategies to remain safe and effective in a deadly environment. In many cases, individuals and organizations are operating with little international support and few opportunities to communicate with the outside world.
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur outlines the human rights and humanitarian catastrophe in Myanmar. He also describes the essential and aweinspiring work being done by Myanmar civil society in the most challenging of circumstances. He calls on the international community to view civil society in Myanmar as a vital partner in addressing the crisis in the country, working with grassroots networks to deliver aid and increasing financial and technical support to civil society organizations.
The fate of Myanmar depends on the activists, organizations and networks that have risen to defy military rule, defend human rights and prepare for a free and democratic future. They need and deserve a significant increase in support from the international community.
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar
General Assembly, Seventy-seventh session