Through transitional justice, victims and survivors will become the nation-builders of tomorrow: HURFOM’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2019 Statement

June 26, 2019

On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) stands in unity with all torture survivors across the globe, and recognizes that much work lays ahead if we are to truly end impunity for perpetrators of cruel, degrading, and inhuman acts, and eradicate in absolute terms such reprehensible rights violations.

Since last marking this international day, HURFOM has reported incidents of violent abuse, arbitrary arrest and detention, and the use of stress positions to force confessions by both police and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) in Mon State and other areas of southeastern Burma. Extending our view past Mon State, recent rights violations perpetrated on civilians in Rakhine State by the Burma/Myanmar military, including torture and unlawful attacks that killed 14 civilians and injured at least 29 more, serve as a stark reminder that the military continues to threaten the safety of civilian populations throughout Burma/Myanmar.

Torture is a crime under international law, yet for decades the military, the police, and EAOs in Burma/Myanmar have used torture against civilian populations, defying our common humanity in the process. The consequences of torture affect not only the individual but can generate intergenerational trauma and thus disrupt the health and well-being of entire communities. If left unaddressed, the anger, humiliation, and grievance that stem from acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment can also lead to cycles of violence when justice and reparations, monetary or otherwise, remain beyond the scope of possibility for victims and survivors.

Today, HURFOM calls on the Burma/Myanmar government to establish meaningful transitional justice mechanisms, for without which, national reconciliation can never be achieved, and the victims and survivors of torture will be left without the supports they need restore their lives and help build a Burma/Myanmar anchored in the principles of democracy, human rights, and genuine peace.

Recommendations

HURFOM recommends the Burma government to:

  • Sign, ratify and implement the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • Immediately cease all torture and other human rights violations perpetrated by the military and police.
  • Eliminate impunity for the military and past regimes, ensuring all perpetrators of human rights violations are held retroactively accountable for their actions.
  • Eliminate all forms of corruption in administrative and judicial systems and processes and ensure adherence to rule of law.
  • Abolish provisions in the 2008 Constitution which allow amnesty for past actions by members of the military and government.
  • Abolish oppressive laws such as 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law and 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act used to condemn and persecute critics of the current administration and military.
  • Establish meaningful transitional justice mechanisms that encourages trust building between communities and perpetrators through guarantees of non-repetition, truth-seeking commissions, reparations, compensation, and public apologies.

HURFOM recommends EAOs to:

  • Immediately cease all human rights violations.
  • Eliminate impunity, ensuring all perpetrators of human rights violations are held accountable for their actions.
  • Publicly acknowledge responsibility and publicly apologize for participation in past human rights violations.
  • Facilitate the safe, dignified, voluntary, and sustainable return of internally displaced people (IDP) and refugees.

HURFOM recommends the International Community to:

  • Continue to pressure the Burma/Myanmar government to acknowledge and address past human rights violations and cease all ongoing human rights violations.
  • Continue to support IDP and refugee communities until they voluntarily repatriate.
  • Pressure and support the Burma/Myanmar government to establish meaningful transitional justice mechanisms that include truth-seeking processes and reparation policies.

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