“The Republic of Korea can play a critical leadership role in denying Myanmar’s junta the resources to hold 54 million people hostage, while becoming a leader in delivering humanitarian aid to people in desperate need,” said Tom Andrews. , UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, in a statement Monday.
‘Setting a good example’
He urged the South Korean government to build on the positive steps it has taken, including publicly denouncing the coup, imposing an arms embargo and imposing a moratorium on forced returns from Myanmar nationals to their country.
“The ROK can lead by example to prevent Myanmar nationals from being forcibly returned to Myanmar from other countries,” the special rapporteur said, adding that given the junta’s brutal violence, “no country should force anyone back to return to Myanmar”.
“The ROK has established an unequivocal policy that protects people from being driven back to Myanmar. It should be seen as a model for all countries in the region.”
People under fire
Mr. Andrews emphasized ROK’s unique position to positively influence the situation in Myanmar.
“Not only is the ROK a strong regional power with a vibrant economy and a member of ASEAN+3, but as I have learned from my travels here, the people of the ROK can deeply identify with a people besieged yet challenging and committed to undoing the shackles of a military dictatorship,” he said.
“Now is the time for the ROK to build on the positive steps it has taken and turn its political support and empathy for Myanmar into even stronger action.”
Step up support
The Special Rapporteur also made several suggestions, including that the ROK “denounce the fraudulent elections” the junta is planning for next year, impose economic sanctions on key economic targets related to the junta, and its humane treatment of Myanmar nationals living in the region expands. ROK, while encouraging Myanmar’s neighbors to “do the same”.
While the humanitarian visa program allows Myanmar nationals with valid visas in the ROK to legally extend their stay and access employment, he urged the government to “deepen these efforts by ensuring that all persons from Myanmar who residing in the ROK, including irregular migrants, can regularize their status, to prevent exploitation and abuse”.
During his visit, Andrews met with government officials, civil society and human rights representatives, major Korean business leaders with operations in Myanmar and ethnic groups in the country.
The independent expert traveled to the city of Gwangju, where he visited memorial sites of the May 18 Revolution and met members of the Gwangju Myanmar Solidarity Movement.
Mr Andrews, like all Special Rapporteurs, was appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to investigate and report on a specific human rights issue or situation in a country. His position is honorary and he is not paid for his work.