Episode #166: Han Gyi, a coordinator at the Network for Human Rights Documentation, also known as ND-Burma, joins us today to talk about the organization’s work, which focuses on human rights documentation; accountability and the utilization of data to seek justice, truth, and reparations.
ND-Burma’s work emphasizes what is called “transitional justice,” which Han Gyi c defines as the “myriad of ways a country tries to deal with mass human rights violations that have been committed on its soil. It aims to deliver justice to the victims through accountability and redress, which in turn can contribute to building a society that respects the rule of law and guards against the same abuses happening again.” One key aspect of transitional justice is reparations. Interestingly, he notes how just “symbolic satisfaction” can often a critical step for victims in healing psychological wounds and for rebuilding their lives. Victims also routinely express a wish to receive a guarantee that such violations will not occur again. But Han Gyi notes that ensuring non-recurrence is only possible through institutional reform, which has proven impossible for decades in Myanmar, and is certainly not a likelihood now.
Han Gyi sadly acknowledges that following the coup, the domestic judicial system has become completely unreliable, used subject to the whims of the military regime. As a result, ND-Burma has sought to work for international accountability, such as taking violations to the International Criminal Court. Still, rights violations will only continue to occur if there are no changes to the system.
Although transitional justice remains an urgent priority for the country, Han Gyi says that there first must be an end to violence. The establishment of military rule has led to a “collapse of sociopolitical economic rights, numerous violations by junta troops, the killing, detainment, and arrest of thousands of civilians, and millions of people internally displaced due in part due to the destruction and arson of civilian structures.”