Burma: Two steps backward for one step forward

Oral intervention to be given by the Next Century Foundation at the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Item 4 Clustered Interactive Dialogue on 12th March 2018, the Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar:

Mr. President. The Next Century Foundation regards the Republic of the Union of Myanmar as having made great progress in terms of the democratic empowerment of its people and in terms of access given to the wider world. The Government of Myanmar is to be commended in this regard.

However, the rights of minorities still leave something to be desired.

Non-Buddhist minorities such as the Christians and others make up a total of some 13 percent of the population, but are often not allowed promotion to the higher levels of employment, particularly in government offices.

There are also concerns about the treatment of the people from Karen state who though predominantly Buddhist are ethnolinguistically different from the majority. When military posted to predominantly minority areas are underpaid they have a tendency to take their grievance out on the indigenous minorities.

Contrast other nations with multicultural societies. The Kingdom of Bahrain for example formerly had a Christian ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and currently has a Jewish ambassador to0 the United States of America. Minorities deserve our special concern.

Myanmar could be more tolerant of its minorities. Most particularly of its Muslim minority. The treatment of Rohingyas is a case in point. But there are other areas of historic concern such as the pockets of predominantly Muslim communities South of Mandalay.

If Myanmar fails to adopt more inclusive policies we may see the emergence of more radical ISIS style insurgencies as a force in Myanmar.

We call upon Myanmar to embrace an approach that promotes greater inclusivity. Thank you.