Activists celebrate international human rights day

Dec 10, 2007 (DVB), A ceremony to mark international human rights day was held today at the house of a prominent activist in Kyi Myint Taing township, under the watch of officials.

The event was held from 9am to 10.30am at the home of Human Rights Defenders and Protectors network leader U Myint Aye, and Bogalay township HRDP representative Saw Banku acted as master of ceremonies.

Nearly 100 people attended, including diplomats from the US Embassy, human rights activists and ordinary people with an interest in human rights issues, as well as Union Solidarity and Development Association members.

U Myint Aye condemned the abuses of human rights carried out by the Burmese regime.

"We've been through the saddest moment for our country because of the human rights violations," he said.

"It is so wrong to arrest people and throw them into prison on the pretext of national stability. We don't believe our national reconciliation can be built on this kind of situation."

U Myint Aye criticised the government's claim of victory over destructive elements after its suppression of demonstrations.

"A true national victory can only be achieved through just and balanced law," he said.

"Being able to hold a celebration like this like human rights day is a powerful thing for the HRDP itself and also for the Burmese government."

HRDP representatives from Arakan, Nattalin, Zegone, Bogalay and Bassein read out their annual human rights reports and an HRDP statement was released.

Letters from the Asian Human Rights Network and the 88 generation students were also read at the event.

Another HRDP member said that members of the activist network and other interested people from across Burma had attended the celebration, as well as some government supporters.

"About four Swan Arr Shin members who call themselves people as well attended the celebrations," he said.

He also said that two trucks holding government officials were parked across the road from U Myint Aye's house during the celebration.

U Myint Aye stressed the need for unity in addressing human rights issues in Burma.

"There are a lot of human rights violations in Burma, and we cannot achieve human rights in Burma alone. Everyone has to know it, understand it and ask for it," he said.

A number of other activists also spoke about their concerns for Burma on international human rights day.

Daw Myint Myint Aye, secretary of Meikhtila National League for Democracy, highlighted the repression of political activists in the country.

"Burma is at its worst state of human right violations now. Everyone in the country has their rights violated."

"Political activists suffer more of the violation of human rights in Burma. My family’s printing shop business have been shut down by authorities since 1996."

NLD spokesperson U Nyan Win also spoke about the severe limitations placed on human rights activists.

"In Burma, you can't even read out loud the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in public," he said.

Sai Leik, spokesperson for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, said that ethnic nationalities have faced severe abuses of human rights.

"Ethnic nationalities suffer the most of the violation of human rights in Burma. We have no freedom in promoting our own culture and literature so let alone in other issues."

Aung Myo Min, director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, complained about the lack of an independent system to protect human rights in Burma.

"Every other country apart from Burma has a non-governmental and independent human rights commission which is run by human rights experts who have no affiliation with the government." Aung Myo Min said.

"This system has been built to prevent human rights violations from any parties including the government itself," he said.

"But in Burma, it is the minister of home affairs general Maung Oo who acts as the chairman of the human rights commission. That’s the biggest evidence of how Burma’s human rights violations have got really bad."

International human rights day is observed every year on 10 December, the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly.

Reporting by Maung Too

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