GENEVA (18 March 2021) – UN human rights experts* today deplored allegations of forced evictions, arbitrary detention and killings of pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar, saying States should consider applying the principle of universal jurisdiction to prosecute those responsible for acts that may amount to crimes against humanity.
Since last Friday at least 121 people have been killed by security forces. More than 2,400 people have been detained and the whereabouts of hundreds are unknown, since the military rulers ousted the democratically elected Government on 1 February 2021.
Among the actions reported to UN experts was a police and military raid last week lasting several hours in the Mingalar Taung Nyunt neighbourhood of Yangon, a compound housing around 960 employees of Myanmar Railways and their families. Many of the railway staff and their families were forcibly evicted at gunpoint as punishment for their participation in a nation-wide general strike.
“Forced evictions constitute a gross violation of the right to adequate housing and several other human rights. These actions must stop immediately,” the experts said. “Those affected must be allowed to return to their homes and property, and those responsible brought to justice.”
There have also been reports of forced evictions in other parts of the country, including in Chin State (Hakka and Falam), Sagaing State (Homalin) and Shan State (Taungyyi).
The experts deplored the persecution and intimidation of pro-democracy protesters, including alleged arbitrary detentions, summary executions and killings of protesters. Live rounds have also been fired randomly at private homes.
“The response of the security forces to the protests is getting more and more violent. We are very troubled by the excessive and deadly use of force and the imposition of martial law in parts of Myanmar. We call on the security forces to cease all violence against peaceful protests, and respect their right to peaceful protest,” the experts said.
“These incidents form part of a disturbing emerging pattern of systematic and widespread attacks against the civilian population of Myanmar, and those responsible should be held criminally responsible under international law. States may therefore investigate and prosecute any commander or perpetrator responsible for these acts, including under the principle of universal jurisdiction.”
The UN human rights experts have previously raised their concerns with Myanmar.
*The experts: Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution; Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Ms. Miriam Estrada-Castillo, Mr. Mumba Malila and Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page – Myanmar
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