NLD Will ‘Not Defend Any Human Rights Violators’

By Htet Naing Zaw 25 June 2018

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar State Counselor and chairperson of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would not defend any individual or organization in the country that violated human rights, said Monywa Aung Shin, secretary of the NLD’s information committee.

The Myanmar government’s granting of permission to the UN’s special envoy to set up an office in the administrative capital Naypyitaw shows that the country needs the international community’s recognition and support in solving the Rakhine crisis, he said.

Christine Schraner Burgener, who was appointed as the new special envoy on Myanmar on April 26 by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, visited Myanmar in the second week of June.

She met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and parliamentary speakers during her visit. She also visited Maungdaw in Rakhine State.

“As our leader (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) has said, we have no reason to defend anybody. If there are violations of human rights, the concerned perpetrators will be punished. We will not defend them. And our party will not be worried about it and neither will our leader,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The Myanmar government has been under pressure from the UN and the international community following widespread allegations that the Myanmar Army and security forces violated human rights in their counter-insurgency operation in northern Rakhine State last year.

On Thursday, the International Criminal Court asked Myanmar to reply by July 27 to a request made in April that the ICC should exercise jurisdiction over the alleged crimes in Rakhine State.

Last week, the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) urged the government to reconsider its decision to let the UN’s new special envoy on Myanmar set up an office in Naypyitaw, warning that it could leave the country vulnerable to international interference.

The office will open the way for the Rakhine issue to be brought to the ICC, said U Thein Tun Oo, a former USDP lawmaker of Amarapura Township in the Lower House of Parliament.

“Our party therefore has concerns about the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country. We want our territory to be peaceful and stable,” he said.

“I haven’t seen any country that can solve their problems peacefully after international bodies come and interfere as if they were their own internal affairs,” he added.

Rakhine affairs analyst U Maung Maung Soe said that although he welcomed Myanmar government’s cooperation with the UN, there was a need for caution when it came to interaction with UN agencies.

“It is important to make sure that their decisions and actions are not biased. You may notice that even the United States has resigned from the UNHRC,” he said.

An NLD lawmaker said on condition of anonymity that Scharner Burgener’s attitude towards the Rakhine issue is different from that of former UN special envoy Ms. Yanhee Lee.

“She (Scharner Burgener) can’t overstep existing laws in Myanmar,” said the lawmaker.

The mandate of the UN special envoy is to investigate alleged human rights violations in Myanmar and to report to the UN secretary general, said U Thein Tun Oo, spokesperson of the USDP. She is not authorized to give orders to the Myanmar government, he added.

“Most of the countries that allowed interference by such [international] persons have ended up breaking up or losing territory.”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.