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NGOs in Myanmar for promoting human rights
an article by MyanmarYouth

Human rights issue is a sensitive issue in Myanmar. People have not discussed about human rights openly in the public places because of the restriction of the military regime. Therefore, people do not have awareness about human rights and most people especially from the rural areas do not have any knowledge about human rights. It causes the military regime violate the human rights easily especially related to the child soldiers and political prisoners. The government had been trying to control the international NGOs and stopped them if they violated the rules. Therefore, international NGOs cannot work openly for the human rights education and raising awareness. Most international NGOs are focusing the humanitarian issue. International NGOs like Amnesty International cannot work inside Myanmar.

Local NGO Youth Capacity Building training in Myanmar

click on photo to enlarge

However, the government cannot control the civil society especially the local NGOs working for human rights. The government first tried to control the local NGOs through the regulations of illegal organizations and arresting the founders of the local organizations. However, after the Cyclone Nargis had hit the country, the role of the local NGOs and charities are stronger and more and more young people involved in setting up the local organizations informally. Many local informal organizations are founded by the educated youth who are open-minded and received international exposure. These young people start to work for charities and NGOs through volunteering and some of them started to form the human rights NGO.

The roles of human rights NGOs in Myanmar might be different from the roles of similar NGOs in other countries due to the political sensitivity of the issue. Their role might be very low profile due to their works and they need to take risk for implementing their projects. However, some local NGOs find another way to work for human rights. Their main objectives are focusing more on humanitarian issues but some of their projects are working for human rights especially projects working for capacity building training for youth and the training include human right education. These local NGOs are strong in grass roots level communities and they use different participatory methods to promote the human rights through the communities.

The other important factor for NGOs to promote human rights in Myanmar is the support from the international communities. The UN and international NGOs should promote the capacity building and empower the local young NGOs in terms of human rights approach and technical skills and financial supports. Most local NGOs are technically and financially weak comparing to the international NGOs and it is challenging for them to promote human rights even though they try hard through risks. Therefore, these local NGOs need to be empowered to promote the human rights.


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This report was posted on August 5, 2012.