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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

European External Action Service (EEAS)

Myanmar: Speech on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate on the repression of media freedom

European External Action Service (EEAS)

EEAS Press Team

Closing remarks delivered by Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski

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Thank you Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

The European Union maintains its efforts to ensure the gross [violations] of human rights in Myanmar remain high on the agenda of the international community.

The shrinking media freedom is, amongst others, an issue of serious concern given the systematic and sustained crackdown on journalists since the coup. Nyein Nyein Aye and Htet Htet Khine were the 24th and 25th journalists to receive a prison sentence. These sentencings have the potential to deter other journalists and bloggers, and is another step towards restricting media freedom and freedom of expression in Myanmar.

To date, 67 journalists have been imprisoned in Myanmar according to Reporters Sans Frontières' press freedom index. Other sources, such as Detained Journalists Information Myanmar, mention 142 journalists. This said, the regime has also targeted civil society organisations and human rights [activists]. Many have had to flee or have seen their bank accounts frozen and offices raided.

Overall, the situation on Human Rights in Myanmar is in freefall since the coup. However, the recent executions of the four civil society activists in August and the further verdicts against former State Councillor Aung Sang Su Kyi, as well as three former Ministers are further signs of the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation in Myanmar.

Since the coup, the European Union has stepped up its diplomatic engagement, with key regional countries and organisations - for example, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations (UN) - and continued supporting ASEAN's Five Point Consensus. However, we are concerned about the lack of progress in working towards a solution to the crisis in Myanmar.

At the multilateral level, in coordination with likeminded partners, we regularly present resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly Third Committee.

Following the recent executions which constitute another escalation of violence in Myanmar, we stepped up monitoring the situation together with the EU Member States and are maintaining our sanctions regime under constant review.

We will continue to support Myanmar human rights activists, journalists and civil society as we do worldwide, as a fundamental principle of the European Union. We hear from those activists and opponents that our support is important, be it public statements, financial support or meeting with them. It all matters. We will keep monitoring developments in Myanmar, calling the authorities to account when they do not respect fundamental rights.

Thank you.

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