Archive for the 'Burma (Myanmar)' Category

Released Burma Dissident: We’re On a Leash

Two Burmese dissident journalists spotlighted during UN Watch’s September human rights summit in New York are among political prisoners just released by the Burmese government.

The plights of Sithu Zeya, 21, and Hla Hla Win, 27, featured in the We Have a Dream presentation of Dr. Thaung Htun, United Nations representative of the opposition-in-exile National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.

They were serving lengthy prison terms – 18 years for Sithu Zeya; 27 years for Hla Hla Win – for dispatching news video to the exiled Democratic Voice of Burma news service (DVB).

The freeing Friday of more than 300 political prisoners prompted the United States to pledge it would restore full diplomatic ties with Burma as U.S President Barack Obama called the move a “substantial step” towards democracy. Continue reading ‘Released Burma Dissident: We’re On a Leash’

Burma Receives High-Level Visitors, but Reforms Slow

Burma’s government is getting a lot of attention for being a so-called “reformist dictatorship,” but activists are warning there is a disconnect between what is being promised, and what is happening on the ground.

An order to cut jail terms and release some prisoners has been slammed as focusing too much on “common criminals.”

The League for Democracy Party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, highlighted that only about a dozen of up to 1,700 political detainees were among 900 prisoners the nominally civilian, but military-sanctioned government released Tuesday as it seeks an end to decades of economic sanctions. Continue reading ‘Burma Receives High-Level Visitors, but Reforms Slow’

UN Member States Denounce Burma Rights Record – With Exceptions

Twenty countries voted with Burma Dec. 24 in opposing the UN General Assembly’s majority support for a resolution denouncing the  human rights record of the Burmese government. The resolution, titled Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar (Burma), expresses the assembly’s “grave concern about the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar.”

As 83 countries endorsed the measure, 39 abstained from the vote, and 50 were absent, the 20 backing Burma’s opposition were:

Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nicaragua, Oman, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

GA condemns Burma, DPRK, Iran

On Thursday, November 19, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted a resolution that “strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar,” with 92 countries voting in favor, 26 voting against, and 65 abstaining.  Sweden, representing the European Union, as the main sponsor of this resolution, explained “there are still over 2,000 prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains in house arrest.  Fundamental freedoms in Myanmar, including the freedom of assembly and expression, remain severely restricted.”

The Third Committee also approved a resolution expressing “very serious concern at the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”  97 nations voted in favor of the resolution, 19 voted against, and 65 abstained.  Sweden, for the European Union, was also this resolution’s main sponsor.  In its statement, it criticized the government of the DPRK for “the grave, widespread, and systematic violations of human rights” and noted that “the DPRK has made no substantial effort to meet earlier requests made by the international community.”

On Friday, November 20, a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Iran was approved by a vote of 74 in favor to 48 against, with 59 abstentions.  Before voting on the resolution, Canada, as the main sponsor, explained:

“What is routine is Iran’s consistent failure to live up to its international human rights obligations.  These failings were only made all the more evident following the June 12th presidential election when the use of force by Iranian security forces resulted in the death, injury and arrest of many individuals, when many of those who were detained were subject to torture and denied access to legal representation, when freedom of association, assembly and expression were drastically curtailed.”

Iran, however, argued that the draft text represented an example of an “unhealthy and dangerous trend” of politicization and abuse of human rights mechanisms.  After the vote, Iran considered the abstentions and absences to represent, alongside the “no” votes, support for Iran. 

Additionally, on November 19, the representative of Zambia, on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft decision on the Report of the Human Rights Council.  The Committee will likely be taking action on this resolution within the next few days.

UN Human Rights Council’s “Pretty Packed Schedule” Has No Time for Myanmar’s Starving Victims

At the initiative of the Cuban government, the UN Human Rights Council will convene on May 23, 2008 for an emergency “special session” to address rising food prices. Several EU states also added their names to the Cuban request.

The world food crisis is certainly an urgent issue, but few expect this meeting to achieve anything other than provide a platform for attacks against the West and free markets. All of which will distract the council from matters it could more suitably address, starting with violations that have a clear victim, perpetrator and remedy. But the countries that lock people up without fair trials prefer to change the subject.

And if “the right to food” were really their concern, why are council members failing to hold an emergency session on Myanmar’s unconscionable denial of that right for millions of its starving, post-cyclone citizens?

When this question was posed yesterday to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the reply was that “the Council had a very full programme. . .so it was a pretty packed schedule at the moment and it would be difficult to fit it in.”

Russia says Burma situation is “far from being dramatic”

The UN Human Rights Council today debated Burma and North Korea, hearing reports from P. Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Myanmar and V. Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Myanmar’s “lack of cooperation”

The Special Rapporteur on Myanamar highlighted the deterioration of the human rights situation there and deplored an increased militarization. He further regretted “the lack of cooperation from the Burmese government,” which has denied him entry.

Pinheiro said freedom of association and expression was severely curtailed in Myanamar, with ongoing arrests of monks and others. The UN expert called on the Council to hold Myanmar accountable for its actions.

Myanmar, however, said it has made “significant progress towards political liberalization.” Its representative criticized the Special Rapporteur’s report for “lack[ing] objectivity and impartiality.”  He said “there are no political prisoners in Myanmar… we are trying to transform Myanmar into a democratic country.”

China and Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic bloc welcomed “positive steps” taken by Myanmar, such as cooperation with the UN and the holding of a referendum in May.

The US, Canada and the EU, however, expressed deep concerns about the legitimacy of the upcoming referendum. The US recalled that “the referendum excludes opposition forces and/or minority groups.”   Western countries also deeply regretted Myanmar’s refusal to accept a follow-up visit by the UN expert.

Russia condemned the critical tone of the Special Rapporteur’s report that “[did] not focus on the positive steps.”  According to Russia, the situation in Myanmar is “far from being dramatic.” The Russian representative recommended the Council’s members and observers to be “polite” by using Burma’s official name, “Myanmar.”

Special rapporteur Pinheiro concluded by expressing strong doubts about the democratic nature of the upcoming referendum, to take place only months after massive government repression.

“Visible, substantial and exponential violations of human rights” in North Korea

The Special Rapporteur on North Korea concluded that overall demilitarization was unsuccessful and that civil and political rights were severely curtailed. The UN expert urged the international community to address impunity in the country.

“Human rights violations are visible, substantial and exponential,” said Muntarbhorn. There were massive violations of civil and political rights, collective punishment, torture and guilt by association including on women, public executions, non-respect of the rights of the child and the elderly, and considerable violence.

North Korea’s representative then took the floor to call for immediate termination of the expert’s mandate. “The report of the Special Rapporteur represents Western forces seeking to overthrow the social system,” he said.  “The report has no relevance with human rights.”

Cuba said the mandate was “part of the Axis of Evil reference of the Bush administration” and urged the council to end it. 

Syria called for ending all country mandates, including the one for North Korea. “This naming and shaming does not help to promote human rights.” (This has not prevented Syria from introducing or supporting several name-and-shame resolutions against Israel during this session.)

The U.S. said North Korea and Myanmar remain among the “world’s worst” regimes, and urged the Council to renew the mandate to improve the lives of North Koreans.

Similarly, Japan, which is co-sponsoring the resolution on the situation in North Korea together with the EU, asked Pyongyang to address the underlying causes for the exodus of its people. The Council will vote on whether to renew the at the end of the month.

To read the official UN meeting summary, click here.

To watch the live webcast of the Council, click here.

Human Rights Council abolishes expert group monitoring Darfur

The UN Human Rights Council concluded its final session of 2007 by abolishing a group of experts who had reported on Sudan’s massive human rights abuses in the province of Darfur. By turning its back on the victims of Darfur, the council — which is controlled by powerful regional blocs that include many repressive regimes allied to Sudan — is failing to respect its basic mandate. The dream of Kofi Annan’s reform plan has been turned into a nightmare.

Resolution Sacked Darfur Experts

The council did extend the mandate of Sima Sumar, special rapporteur on Sudan, but the far stronger and more influential expert group was eliminated. The resolution on the Darfur expert group (A/HRC/6/L.51) was adopted by consensus, co-sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the African Group, and Portugal on behalf of the European Union. While the resolution “welcome[d] the report submitted by the Group of Experts” and called on the government of Sudan to take action against “serious violations of human rights,” the resolution quietly omitted any reference to their future work, effectively canceling their mandate.

Once again, the European Union has sought to hide the failures of the council, and failed to call a vote on the resolution. It would have lost — but at least the world would know the truth. As was the case when the council sacked the monitors on Cuba and Belarus, the best way to find out about the failures of the Council is to see the latest victory trumpeted in the press of the abusers. Here’s what Sudan’s media had to say:

The European Group and the African Group in the Human Rights Council have reached a consensual decision to end the mission of the committee of the Seven Thematic Rapporteurs on Human Rights in the Sudan and decided to extend the mission of the Human Rights Commissioner Sima Samar for another year provide that she would provide the Council with a report by coming September.

We even learn how the EU diplomats congratulated Sudan:

The Chairman of the European Group in the Council, who is the ambassador of Portugal, contacted the Sudanese Permanent Mission in Geneva to express his congratulations at the end of the meeting that included the European and the African Groups. The decision will be tabled before the Human Rights Council’s closing session to approve it in its final form.

According to Sudan, the matter of the atrocities could be solved easily if only Sudan was given more money:

Dr Ibrahim Mirghani, Sudan’s Representative in Geneva told the Sudan News Agency that the decision reflects the cooperation the rapporteurs have found from the government of Sudan and said the implementation of a number of recommendations that have been agreed upon and to continue with the implementation of the recommendations that have not been implemented due to lack of assistance from the international community, stressing the need to continue providing assistance to the Sudan so that it could continue with the implementation of the remainder of the recommendations. He said it also calls on the rebels in Darfur to respond to the peace call and to join the Darfur Peace Agreement, urging all parties to protect civilians, particularly women and children. Ambassador Ibrahim said he considers the decision an excellent one and that it reflects the strong stance of the African groups and its full backing for the Sudan. He said he expects the Council to commend the cooperation of the government of Sudan with the human rights mechanisms. He said the negotiations were led on behalf of the African Group by the ambassador of Egypt with the full support of the group of Organization of the Islamic Conference in the Council. He said a number of countries have taken the lead to congratulate Sudan on this decision including the ambassadors of China, Russia and Cuba.

The Swiss seem to agree:

He said Switzerland has today announced a donation of 700,000 Swiss Francs as a technical assistance to the Sudan in the human rights domain. He said some other five Western states have also expressed readiness to provide similar assistance to the Sudan. He said the international community has in brief commended the cooperation the Sudanese government has shown with the human rights mechanisms and call on the Sudanese government to continue with this positive attitude. It is to be recalled that the Sudanese delegation to the meetings of the council has included the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Justice Abdul Moneim Zumrawi, and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Assistance, Hassabou Mohamed Abdul Rahaman as well as the Rapporteur of the Sudanese Council for Human Rights, Dr Abdul Moneim Osman Mohamed Taha.

Once again, the Council sends a green light to Sudan. Despite this glaring failure of the Council, most countries were busy congratulating each other on reaching consensus. Declaring victory is always the message from diplomats at the UN, as former US Ambassador John Bolton correctly explains in his latest book. Genuine action is not the goal, but consensus.

In addition, the other Sudan resolution — to renew the mandate of special rapporteur Sima Sumar expert on Sudan — also had its share of disappointments. Rather than holding Sudan accountable, the resolution said the expert’s new role will be to “assess the needs of Sudan…and to mobilize the necessary international technical and financial support for Sudan…”

In other words, the UN expert on Sudan is now a global fundraiser and cheerleader for the government of Sudan, rather than an objective and independent voice for the victims of government-sponsored violence and rape. UN Watch spoke out last week for real scrutiny, but our call fell on deaf ears.

Expert on Freedom of Religion Renewed

There were, however, two rays of light on Friday. The resolution on religious discrimination passed over the objections of Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic group, China and South Africa. While the resolution explicitly condemned “all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief,” Pakistan and others argued that such a resolution did not consider the “need to respect all religions” — a reference to the Islamic attempt to limit freedom of speech in name of combating “defamation of Islam.” The Islamic group also attacked a reference in the text that protected individuals who convert from one faith to another, which, Saudi Arabia said, was “against Sharia.”

In the end, the Islamic states and their supporters abstained rather than voted against the resolution, which can be explained only by the murky game of UN vote-trading (see how they voted).

In a rare victory for human rights defenders, a resolution to maintain the UN expert on the situation in Myanmar was adopted by consensus. Burma rejected the renewed mandate, saying that it represented “pressure from influential and powerful countries.”

Other resolutions that were adopted by consensus without any major debate or discussion included issues related to an “alliance of civilizations,” adequate housing, internally displaced persons, the right to health, the promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, technical assistance to Liberia, and indigenous peoples’ rights.

The Council will reconvene for its major session of the year on March 3–28, 2008.

UN expert: Burmese junta guilty of “excessive and lethal force”

There was debate today in wake of yesterday’s presentation by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who reported to the Human Rights Council on his recent visit to Burma. After expressing gratitude to the Burmese government for allowing his visit, Pinheiro painted a nightmarish picture of life in Burma during and after the wave of peaceful protests, including “excessive [and] lethal force,” arbitrary arrest, “appalling detention conditions,” and “persecution of political parties.” He found no signs that Myanmar was implementing the Human Rights Council’s October resolution, S-5/1, which called for easing of the repression. Today countries and NGOs debated the report.

UN Watch spoke out on behalf of Burma’s victims, calling on the Council not to let the “brutal repression…crush the spirit of the Burmese people.” (Click for video.)

Reaction to the report was divided. Portugal on behalf of the EU, the United States, and a few other democracies voiced serious concern with the situation in Burma and the lack of progress since protests ended, and supported continued attention by the Council and other UN mechanisms. The U.S. called the Burmese junta “callous.” Other countries expressed horror and shock at recent reports of ongoing human rights violations. To support the victims, the EU announced that it would present a new resolution to ensure that the UN human rights machinery remains actively involved in the situation in Burma. Canada discussed the idea of new sanctions against Burma.

On the other side stood Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic states, as well as Thailand, China, and Laos, who welcomed Burma’s cooperation, stressed the important role that the regional group ASEAN was playing, and encouraged “social harmony.” These countries objected to an additional Council resolution on Burma. Behind-the-scene negotiations are underway before the voting on Friday.

Two additional reports were presented – one by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People, and the other by Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in counterterrorism. Scheinin discussed his recent visits to South Africa, the United States, and the Palestinian territories. He expressed serious concerns about the US detainment of suspects at Guantanamo Bay, as well as interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Scheinin’s report on his recent trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories gave a mixed review of Israel’s anti-terrorism policies and practices. He acknowledged Israel’s extraordinarily complex security situation and welcomed the Jewish state’s cooperation as it drafts a constitution and more formal anti-terrorism legislation. Nevertheless, he found “serious incompatibility between Israel’s counterterrorism practices and laws” with human rights and international humanitarian law principles.

The US criticized Scheinin’s report for “unfairly oversimplifying” the complexities faced by the United States. Israel said that it struggles on a daily basis between security and respect for human rights. Israeli Ambassador Levanon said that it would be unjust to ignore the humanitarian concerns of the residents of Sderot, an Israeli city that often finds itself the target of indiscriminate Palestinian Qassam rocket fire.

Egypt and Pakistan slammed Israel’s security barrier, and Algeria called for a global convention on the fight against terrorism that also takes into account people under foreign occupation who are striving for self-determination — i.e, so that Palestinian terrorism would still be allowed.

“We Palestinians [are] like our brethren in South Africa – we will overcome – like those in Soweto,” said Palestinian representative Mohammad Abu-Koash, in a Human Rights Council debate concerning Israel. “The victims of Arian purity have been transformed into the proponents of Jewish purity…Those who suffered in Europe, those who came from concentration camps, those who came from the ghettos, they should not act as our masters, they should know the meaning of suffering.” Abu-Koash also denied any historical Jewish claim to Jerusalem, saying that the existence of the Dome of the Rock and the Holy Sepulchre “negate the Israeli claim to the holy town of Jerusalem.” The Israeli ambassador declined to reply, saying, “I will not denigrate myself to that level.”

South Africa Opposes UN Human Rights Resolutions

The following op-ed appeared in today’s Sunday Times of South Africa.

South Africa at the UN: Your Freedom and Mine

Hillel Neuer

At the United Nations recently, South Africa outdid even Saudi Arabia in opposing or refusing to support resolutions for victims of human rights violations in Belarus, Burma, Iran, and North Korea. When questions arose over this policy, criticised in March by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “a betrayal of our noble past”, the government’s reaction was to lash out. It would do far better to simply respond to the legitimate concerns of its citizens.

The current debate emerged in local newspapers and on national radio after an exposé in a recent issue of the Sunday Times, citing data from non- governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Switzerland-based UN Watch. But for observers of the world body the government’s latest votes were all too familiar, part of an increasingly long line of decisions in 2007 that have seen South Africa stand with the perpetrators instead of the victims.

In January this year, shortly after assuming its two-year seat on the Security Council, South Africa joined China and Russia as the sole members to oppose a resolution urging Burma to free political detainees and end sexual violence by the military. South Africa has often dismissed such initiatives as campaigns by the wealthy North. Yet if Ghana, Panama and Peru could support the text — and Congo, Indonesia and Qatar could quietly abstain — why did Pretoria help hardliners Moscow and Beijing to kill the text, shielding the generals of Rangoon?

Here, as elsewhere, South Africa gave technical reasons. The resolution, said UN ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, treated issues “best left to the Human Rights Council.”

To call this disingenuous would be an understatement. Not only had the majority of the new council proclaimed a strict policy of blocking consideration of country situations, but South Africa was a vocal proponent. It actively voted in March to discontinue scrutiny of violations by Iran and Uzbekistan. On June 12, it urged members to “terminate all country mandates.” The result? A week later, the independent experts into abuses in Cuba and Belarus saw their mandates permanently scrapped.

In an October study by the Democracy Coalition Project, countries were measured by their support for mechanisms addressing violations in specific countries (like Burma), ensuring the much-touted universal review of all states would be more than a toothless exercise and protecting the independence of country and thematic investigators. In all cases, South Africa was found to be on the wrong side, among those acting to eviscerate Kofi Annan’s original plan for an effective council.

It is time for Pretoria to answer some basic questions:

  • Was Burma’s suffering really “best left to the Human Rights Council”? After the Security Council resolution was blocked, the Human Rights Council predictably said and did absolutely nothing, until long after it was too late. If either body had demonstrated timely resolve, would that have helped to prevent Burma’s bloody arrest of thousands of peacefully demonstrating monks last month — and the killings?
  • The government claims human rights victims are better helped by “quiet diplomacy”. Yet the victims implore the international community to shine a spotlight on abuses their governments seek to hide. From Burma it was Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy who urged the Security Council to speak out. Similarly, from Darfur to Cuba, dissidents and victims come to the Human Rights Council pleading for public action. Does South Africa know something the victims do not?
  • Why, in July, did South Africa join a minority of 13 countries in opposing UN accreditation of a Canadian gay rights NGO?
    Ambassador Kumalo insists his policy is to defend “the rules”. Yet when the Human Rights Council rammed through a set of changes in its midnight manoeuvre on June 19 — famously denying Canada its right to vote and then pretending there was “a consensus”— why was South Africa complicit in this unprecedented trampling of basic procedures?
  • As the greatest beneficiary of UN human rights action to help end apartheid, can South Africa now deny help to others?
  • Why did Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad try to tarnish independent NGOs, falsely claiming they were funded by “major Western powers” and behind a “campaign” against South Africa?

The truth is that the activists for political prisoners in Havana, Minsk and Pyongyang are of the same movement that fought for Nelson Mandela.

South Africa should not forget his famous words: “Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.”

Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva.

UN Ends Scrutiny of Cuba and Belarus, Indicts Israel

By a vote of 165 to 7, a UN General Assembly committee last Friday approved “institution-building” changes to the Human Rights Council that actually weaken or eliminate several of its key institutions. The package scraps the independent investigators of abuses in Cuba and Belarus, makes it harder to criticize specific countries for violations, and institutes the permanent censure of Israel as a fixed agenda item, an initiative pushed by the group of Islamic states.

The U.S., Canada, Australia, Israel and three Pacific Island states voted in opposition. The European Union countries supported the package, arguing it was the best possible compromise to preserve a functioning council.

The changes were first adopted on June 19, 2007 by the Human Rights Council in Geneva under dubious circumstances. As documented by a UN Watch photo timeline, “How the Human Rights Council Was Born” — an eye-opener into the dark side of international law and diplomacy — the package was rammed through in middle of the night, with Canada denied its right to vote. Continue reading ‘UN Ends Scrutiny of Cuba and Belarus, Indicts Israel’

What This Council Can Do For the People of Burma

What This Council Can Do For the People of Burma

UN Watch Speech before UN Human Rights Council
Special Session on Human Rights Situation in Burma
2 October 2007

Delivered by Leon Saltiel, Director of Communications, UN Watch

_______________

            Thank you, Mr. President.

            We gather here today to discuss the emergency situation in Burma.  The military regime cloaks its acts — and its shame — behind an iron curtain, and so we have no exact numbers of what has gone on in the past week.  But all of the smuggled reports confirm one thing:  a great many have been arrested, a great many have been killed.  We know that we are dealing with crimes against innocent civilians on a massive scale.

            But what can this Human Rights Council do?  This body has no power to send boots on the ground. It has no physical power whatsoever. One is reminded of the famous story told about Joseph Stalin.  On being warned that persecution of Catholics would anger the Pope, the Soviet dictator reportedly replied: “The Pope? And how many divisions does he have?” Continue reading ‘What This Council Can Do For the People of Burma’

UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Burma

See UN Watch’s powerful speech, delivered by director of communications Leon Saltiel. 

The Human Rights Council special session on Burma went relatively well. Most of the countries taking the floor condemned the recent violence and urged democratic reforms in Burma.

The most outrageous statement was made by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Ambassador Masood Khan said that “more innocent civilians have died in Palestine a few days ago in twenty four hours as a result of Israeli military action than in the whole of Myanmar” but this ”has not received the same degree of attention from the media or this Council.”  See full text: Pakistan on Burma

Observers reported seeing the British ambassador approach the Palestinian representative to question him on the absurdity of this statement.

Russia said that the events in Burma are not a direct threat to international peace and security and should not be used as an excuse to interfere in internal affairs. The humanitarian situation is far from urgent and needs no special measures.

Myanmar (Burma) said the international media “blew the situation out of proportion” and accused the West of manipulating events in order to intervene. Click for full text:  Myanmar speech.

EU Consultations on Draft UNHRC Resolution on Burma

Below is a summary from consultations held by the European Union on a draft text on Burma (Myanmar) to be presented at today’s Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

  • The EU has proposed a strong text and they are striving for consensus. In order to achieve this, they may need to water down the text considerably.
  • Russia opposed the fact that NGOs could participate in the consultations and submit proposals. The Ambassador of Portugal (current EU president) said that these were open consultations and all could participate.
  • India, China, Cuba, Brazil, Pakistan and Russia called for a balanced, forward-looking, concise, focused, action-oriented, constructive text, that would not contain controversial or inflammatory language, that would call for the engagement of the government of Myanmar and that would only focus on the recent events. In contrast, the US, Canada, Japan and Australia praised the text.
  • Cuba asked for the resolution to call for restraint from “all parties.” Australia responded that there was only one party that needed to show restraint.
  • Russia offered a number of amendments to water-down the text. One of the most important was changing “strongly condemns” to “gravely concerned.”
  • Russia also wanted to delete a paragraph on the humanitarian situation, as being not in the scope of the HRC. Canada said that it is relevant as it affects the fulfillment of human rights, such as the right to food.
  • Cuba asked to insert a mention that freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly are not absolute and can be limited with national legislation. Portugal responded that this is language directly from the UDHR.