Head of HR Commission Rules Out Conflict-zone Inquiry
covering burma and southeast asia
Friday, May 29, 2020

Head of HR Commission Rules Out Conflict-zone Inquiry

By SIMON ROUGHNEEN / THE IRRAWADDY Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Kachin child at a temporary shelter for refugees in Laiza, Kachin State. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

BANGKOK — The chairman of Burma's National Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday that it was premature for the newly established body to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in ethnic minority areas.

“The national reconciliation process is political,” said Win Mra, the chairman of the NHRC, speaking at a press conference at Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday afternoon. He added that “to investigate into conflict areas would not be appropriate at this time.”

The NHRC recently visited war-torn Kachin State in Burma's north and urged both the government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) “to engage in a dialogue process.”

Fighting has raged in Kachin State since June 2011, driving around 50,000 people from their homes.

The London-based NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which visited the conflict zone recently, reported that “accounts of torture and other abuses are a cause for very grave concern, and the humanitarian challenges facing the internally displaced people require an urgent and sustained response from the international community.”

Ongoing human rights abuses have plagued Burma over the past five decades of military rule, particularly in border regions close to Bangladesh, India, China and Thailand, which are home to many of the country's more than 130 ethnic minorities.

To many observers, the idea of a government-backed human rights body in Burma sounds like a case of poacher-turned-gamekeeper, and Win Mra acknowledged that in the past, it would have been unthinkable.

“Before now, the idea of human rights was anathema to the authorities in Myanmar,” he said, using the official name for the country.

The NHRC was established in September 2011 as one of a number of reforms introduced by the  government of President Thein Sein, who took office last March. The reforms gathered momentum after what observers have described as a landmark meeting between Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in July.

In other changes, the government has amnestied around 500 political prisoners, with the latest mass release taking place on Jan. 13.

Asked by The Irrawaddy about how many political prisoners remain in detention in Burma, Win Mra said that “the picture is confusing, and the numbers are confusing, and it is difficult to estimate the numbers at this stage.”

While pointing to the government line that remaining prisoners are people accused of criminal acts, such as alleged bombings, the NHRC chairman acknowledged that there may be some prisoners of conscience remaining in jails in Burma, referencing numbers given to him by the United Nations human rights point man on Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, during the latter's recent visit to Burma.

“I learned from Mr Quintana that there are 128 prisoners of conscience still in jail,” said Win Mra, without saying whether the NHRC would press the government to free the remaining prisoners.

Win Mra said that Quintana did not raise the issue of a proposed Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into human rights abuses in Burma during his recent visit.

“I was surprised by this,” said Win Mra, before adding that “Myanmar's transition to democracy is not like other countries where a CoI was initiated. In our country the transition has been smooth.”

Pointing to what he termed “a changed situation” in Burma, Win Mra said that “some Western governments who had a stronger view on this [the CoI] have changed.”

Quintana first raised the possibility of a CoI for Burma in early 2010, based on accounts of abuses in war-wracked ethnic minority regions, in some cases similar to those said to have been carried out in Kachin State in recent months.

Despite its unpromising genesis, Win Mra said he believed that the NHRC is already raising awareness of human rights issues in Burma, saying that between 20 and 30 letters of complaint per day are sent to the commission.

“Protecting and promoting human rights is enshrined in the Constitution” he said.

Asked by The Irrawaddy about the content of the complaints, he said that the letters were “mainly about general issues with regard to land, such as confiscation by government or private companies.”

The commission reviews the complaints and forwards its recommendations on action to be taken to the relevant ministries, said Win Mra, who added that this was in keeping with the commission's mandate and with the Paris Principles, the international benchmark for statutory human rights agencies.

1  |  2  next page »

Please read our policy before you post comments. Click here
E-mail:   (Your e-mail will not be published.)
You have characters left.
Word Verification: captcha Type the characters you see in the picture.

Min Naing Wrote:
Win Mra is a right person to chair National Human Wrong Commission. He is officially appointed by the regime to do the wrong things with his trained stupidity.

Oo Maung Gyi Wrote:
Win Mra is the son of ICS U Shwe Mra. His father had served under British administartion in Burma as master voices so he has to follow his father's step to say present his master voices. He he has no Arakanese spirit. He belongs to Arakanese
aistocrat family, but he learnt how to speak lies as a diplomat and also a polish liar. He hiwll never ever stakes side with majority Burmese peoples because he was brain washed by BSP|P party dueing New Win regime and asign to follow work with present regime and chosen by General Khin Nyunt to work in Foreign Service in Burma. Therefore he has no other way just to tell every things lies.

KML Wrote:
“In our country the transition has been smooth” said Win Mra.

In deed vely vely smooth generalization. Transition happened in 1963, bloodbath in 1988, Blood bath in 2007.

The segments must be credible enough now. Even the President and VP Dr Sai are now able to make logical statements.

But how come Win Mra still keeping the habit of BSPP style "smooth statements" with white lies?? probably most expensive brain in the world that has never been used at all!
Bravo!! National Human Wrong Commission Chairman. You do not even deserve the job of rubbish collector elsewhere other than Burma.

KML Wrote:
It is reasonable that National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC) of Burma is not competent enough to handle the human rights abuses in ethnic minority areas. It seems like a newly graduated doctor willing to treat only cough and cold patients while referring patients with appendicitis or fractures to the specialist (perhaps nowhere!).

However NHRC Chairman’s fact finding mission to Malaysia, Indonesia and India may only result wasting public money as if going fishing trip to the hilltop! Instead he could learn more from the following website without stepping outside.

The Australian Human Rights Commission http://www.hreoc.gov.au/

Myint Myat Twe Wrote:


Win Mra was trained to lie, he wasn't trained to die for the truth.

more articles in this section