Intervention made by Ms. Rishfa Rasheed, Assistant Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, at the Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Third Committee of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, 19 October 2011


Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Let me first take this opportunity to thank the Special Rapporteur for his informative report, which clearly illustrates the hard work he has done in his capacity for the betterment of the human rights situation in Myanmar. We would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, and take note of his good offices’ attempts and efforts regarding human rights, as well as the political, social, and economic challenges faced by the country.

Through our own recent experience of shifting to a democratic system of government, we intimately understand the need for strong support from the international community. We, therefore, urge all nations to join us in offering our assistance to Myanmar during their process of reform, as was offered to us during ours. We believe this is a potentially historic moment for Myanmar, and both Myanmar and the international community must grasp it to further pursue the universal recognition of human rights.

Mr. Chairman,

The Maldives is optimistic on the human rights situation of Myanmar. Over the past year, the new government of Myanmar has shown a number of positive first steps to improve the situation for its citizens. Myanmar held national elections for the first time in decades, established a National Human Rights Commission, reduced restrictions on freedom of expression, and allowed labour unions to form. We are extremely pleased by the release of Daw Awn Sahn Sue Chee and over 200 other political prisoners as a goodwill gesture from the government. It is our hope that the actions continue along the lines of the reform roadmap towards democracy. Maldives recognizes the Special Rapporteur as a vital conduit through which Myanmar and the international community can begin cooperation in moving forward. We, therefore, commend Myanmar for inviting the Special Rapporteur to visit the country and allow him offer his assistance and assess the situation first-hand.

Mr. Chairman,

The Maldives does of course recognize that Myanmar must still take many steps to further improve the human rights situation in the country. The Maldives is particularly disappointed to note the deteriorating education system, discriminations faced by many, and the dire conditions under which the elections took place as mentioned in the Special Rapporteurs report, and we fully support the recommendations made on these matters. The Maldives, joins the other nations today, in calling the Government of Myanmar to release the remaining prisoners of conscience in the country and allow them to carry on their peaceful activities, and enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and basic rights. We stand with the Secretary-General in welcoming President Thein Sein to undertake the political and economic reforms proposed.

We would be pleased if the Special Rapporteur could share his thoughts on the progress Myanmar has made, in pursuing the reform roadmap.

Mr. Chairman,

The resumption of political activities in the country, after over a half-century of restriction, clearly shows a willingness by the Government to engage in real reform and national reconciliation. The Maldives remains committed to working along with the international community in assisting the new Government of Myanmar to bring necessary reforms in the spheres of democracy, good governance and human rights.

We are confident that the Government will work together with the assistance of the international community to resolve the political situation in the country.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman