The same day that Myanmar’s parliament voted in the first president without a military background in more than half a century, the United Nations held an open dialogue on the latest report submitted by its human rights envoy to the country, which noted that the new government faces a slew of problems from ending civil wars to granting basic rights to the Rohingya minority group.
Yanghan Lee, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, also called for the release of political prisoners in Myanmar, during the interactive dialogue held by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, based on her report dated March 8.
Representatives from other countries attended the session along with Myanmar government representatives, human rights activists, religious organizations and women’s organizations.
“Yanghee Lee pointed out several major problems, such as the military’s involvement in the country’s reform process, the military’s control of important ministries, challenges for new government to reform the judicial system, and human rights violations,” said Aung Myo Min, director of Equality Myanmar, a Myanmar-based nongovernmental organization that focuses on human rights education and advocacy programs.
She also noted the use of hate speech in Rakhine state and an increase in the number of internally displaced persons in northern Shan and Kachin states due to ongoing fighting, Aung Myo Min told RFA's Myanmar Service.
During the dialogue, the United States said it was concerned about continuing military influence over parliament.
Myanmar’s military has considerable influence in the country because it is guaranteed a quarter of the seats in both houses of parliament, giving it an effective veto over proposed constitutional changes. It also controls three key security-related ministries.