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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights in Southeast Asia and Burma: An exchange with ASEAN Parliamentarians

Date: 
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 4:00pm
Location: 
441 Cannon House Office Building

Announcement

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing and dialogue with members of parliament from Southeast Asia, who will share their insights and concerns about the state of democracy and human rights in the region, with a focus on the current situation in Burma (Myanmar).

The five MPs belong to ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), a membership-based organization working to strengthen human rights and democracy in Southeast Asia. Having recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Burma, they will discuss their newly released report on human rights issues related to the country’s fragile democratic transition ahead of the November 8 elections; the peace process, with particular focus on the ongoing conflict in Kachin State; and the persecution of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

The MPs share a general perception that democracy and rule of law are back-sliding throughout the region, and have particular concerns about Burma. These include the risk that another mass exodus of people could occur in the coming weeks -- the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for “urgent action before the end of the monsoon season unleashes a new wave of people leaving on boat from the Bay of Bengal.” The UN estimates that over 1,100 people have died at sea in Southeast Asia since 2014.

Increasing ethnic and religious discrimination in Burma is another concern. The MPs will discuss the passage of four “Protection of Race and Religion Laws” designed to regulate interfaith marriage, religious conversion and birthrates, as well as the mass disenfranchisement of the Rohingya population. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been struck from the electoral roles in advance of the November elections. The delegation includes U Shwe Maung, a Rohingya member of the governing party elected in 2010 who has just been ruled a non-citizen and thus ineligible to run for re-election. Our distinguished visitors will also offer recommendations for the U.S. government and Congress.

For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or Kimberly.Stanton@mail.house.gov or Carson Middleton (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or Carson.Middleton@mail.house.gov

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Participants

Panelists

  • U Shwe Maung, Member of Parliament, Myanmar
  • Daw Doi Bu, Member of Parliament, Myanmar
  • Son Chhay, Member of Parliament, Cambodia
  • Mu Sochua, Member of Parliament, Cambodia
  • Charles Santiago, Member of Parliament, Malaysia

Moderator

  • Hon. Thomas H. Andrews, President and CEO, United to End Genocide

Opening Remarks

  • Congressman James P. McGovern, Co-Chair, TLHRC
  • Congressman Joseph R. Pitts, Co-Chair, TLHRC

Bios [PDF]

114th Congress