By Mohamed Sheriff
Information Attaché, Geneva, Switzerland
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr Lansana Gberie, joined dozens of other countries at the 29th special session of Human Rights Council calling on the military authorities in Myanmar to reverse their coup and restore the democratically elected government.
The Special Session of the Council was initiated by the European Union and the United Kingdom. “Sierra Leone believes that this Special Session is timely and consistent with the mandate of the Council in preventing human rights violations and responding promptly to human rights emergencies, as expressed in resolution 45/31 of 7 October 2020, which my delegation cosponsored,” Ambassador Gberie said.
Ambassador Gberie said that the General Election in Myanmar on 8 November 2020 marked an important milestone in the country’s democratic transition, with the people of Myanmar expressing their will and strong belief in democratic process. Against this background, Ambassador Gberie said, the military coup of 1st February 2021 was “against the principles of democracy and takes the country backward.”
Ambassador Gberie condemned the arbitrary detention of the democratically elected members of the Government, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung Sa Suu Kyi, other political leaders, human right defenders, journalists, media workers, foreign experts, and others.
He encouraged dialogue and reconciliation among all stakeholders in Myanmar and its immediate neighbourhood to ensure “the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of displaced persons, including the Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar.”
At the end of the Special Session on Friday, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for the “restoration of the legitimate civilian government.” The resolution also demanded “the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained and the lifting of the state of emergency, to protect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, religion or belief, association and assembly in accordance with international human rights law, and to ensure that members of civil society organizations, and the media operate freely and without fear of violence, harassment or intimidation.”
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is in the Western portion of mainland Southern Asia. It has been in thrall of its powerful military, which recently faced allegations at the International Criminal Court in The Hague of committing genocide against its Rohingya people, for decades.
Sierra Leone, which has emerged as a stable democracy in West Africa that conducts regular elections and orderly transitions of government, recently submitted its national human progress report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, marking a significant milestone in President Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to human rights issues.