1. Together with the International Community, Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) would like to honour this historic International Human Rights Day which falls on 10 December 2015.
2. International Human Rights Day is of great significance to people all over the world and National Human Rights Institutions worldwide. This is the most opportune time for MNHRC to reflect upon the promotion and protection activities undertaken by the Commission during the course of the past year.
3. During 2015, the Commission conducted promotional activities at the grass root level in 31 townships of Yangon, Bago, Magway, Tanintharyi, Ayeyarwaddy, Mandalay, Sagaing Regions, Nay Pyi Taw Council and Chin State. Workshops on Human Rights for officials of the Government Departments were also conducted. In addition the Commission held human rights talks for officials of the President’s Office, the Office of the Union Government, the Office of the three Hluttaws, the Supreme Court of the Union and Union level Ministries and Organizations. The talks were conducted by teams comprising of the Chairman and Members.
4. During 2015, the Commission also conducted human right talks at the training courses held by the Central Institute of Civil Services (Phaung-Gyi) and Central Institute of Civil Services (Upper Myanmar) for the government officials. In addition, human rights talks were also conducted at the National Defence College. To raise human rights knowledge awareness extensively to the people, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was not only translated into the Myanmar language but also into Kachin, Mon and Shan languages and were widely distributed. A film script on article 26 of the UDHR (The right to education) was produced and screened during television programmes.
5. With regard to the protection of human rights, from 1 January 2015 to date a total of more than 1200 letters of complaint that were received at the Commission were examined and action taken in accordance with the procedures. Field visits were also conducted on some complaints.
6. During 2015, the Commission inspected Insein Central Prison, prisons and police lock-ups in Sittwe and Buthidaung townships, the prison in Maing Sat, the prison and labour camps in Mandalay, Naung Cho, Hsi Paw and Lashio, prison and police lock-ups in Myeik and Kaw Thaung townships. Statements regarding these visits were issued together with the recommendations of the Commission. In addition a team from the Commission visited the Thayawaddy prison to meet with the detained students and supporters and subsequently the Commission issued a statement with recommendations. The statement recommended that the conditions of the prison should be improved. Moreover the Commission also recommended to the authorities to leniently consider the cases of all those who had action taken against them under the Prison Act. Regarding the application of bail by the four- student demonstrators of Yadanarpon University in Mandalay to appear for the examination, the Commission issued a statement recommending that the application of bail of the students should be given due consideration by the Court to protect the right to education. With regard to the apprehension and detention of the demonstrators protesting for the reform of National Education Law at Letpadan on 10 March 2015, the Commission after investigation issued a statement recommending that action should be taken against those who failed to apply the riot suppression procedures.
7. The Commission issued a statement with regard to the Multi-Party Democracy General Elections in 2015 that was slated to be held in a few days time while the Union Election Commission was endeavouring to hold free and fair elections. In that statement it was mentioned that as a gesture of welcoming the General Elections, granting of pardon to the political prisoners who could peacefully take part in the democratic nation-building process, and sympathetic consideration for a pardon to the students and supporters detained for their part in the demonstration in connection with the amendment of the National Education Law would allow them to participate freely in the General Elections. In this regard, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission had submitted an appeal to the President to consider granting of pardon to the political prisoners and the detained students and supporters.
8. Holding of workshops and educational talks on the subject of human rights constitute an important aspect of the activities of the Commission. During 2015, among the workshops that were conducted, the workshops on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security were significant. The outcome statements that were issued after the workshops jointly held by the UN Women and the Commission in April and September in Nay Pyi Taw made recommendations containing promotion of women’s leadership in political processes and governance.
9. The role of the Commission has been greatly strengthened by engaging with regional Forums such as South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) and Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF). The Chairman of the Commission accompanied by one of the Members attended the 20th Annual Meeting of APF in Mongolia from 26 to 28 August 2015. During the course of the meeting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the MNHRC and the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia to enhance cooperation between the two Commissions. Moreover, the Chairman of the Commission and one of the Members attended the 12th Annual Meeting of the South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 29 to 30 September 2015. At the meeting, matters on establishment of a SEANF Permanent Secretariat and other items were discussed and the Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission took over the Chairmanship of SEANF for 2016 from the Chairman of National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.
10. The Commission is also cooperating with other National Human Rights Institutions. On 20 July 2015, a delegation comprising of 6 staff members from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea visited the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. From 11 to 24 October 2015, 15 staff members from the Office of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission visited the Republic of Korea to study human rights activities.
11. On this International Human Rights Day, the Commission pledges to fulfill its vision to create a society where human rights are respected and protected in line with the provisions of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Law in cooperation with the relevant organizations.
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
Dated: 10 December 2015