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Submission to UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar — Gendered Impacts of the Coup

The following responds specifically to question 1 regarding discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality through laws, policies, directives, and requirements that target the rights of women and people with diverse gender identities, including members of Myanmar’s LGBTQ community.

Gender-discriminatory laws and policies, and impunity for sexual and gender-based crimes, have long been the norm in Myanmar. Since independence in 1948, successive military regimes have perpetuated systemic discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The 2021 military coup greatly exacerbated gender-based discrimination and violence against women and people with diverse gender identities, and put an immediate end to any attempts to reform or eliminate these structural barriers to equality.

The 2008 Constitution

At the heart of Myanmar’s discriminatory laws and policies is the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. The same document that laid the groundwork for the February 2021 coup through its broad emergency powers provision has also enabled a culture of complete impunity for military-perpetrated crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence. Though the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) voted shortly after the coup to abolish the 2008 Constitution, it remains the law of the land in the parts of the country under junta control, and the junta regularly cites the Constitution’s authority.

Even before the coup, the military faced no civilian oversight or accountability. The Constitution grants the military “the right to independently administer and adjudicate all affairs of the armed forces,” leaving it to hold itself accountable. This has created a culture of complete impunity for serious human rights violations, with a very small number of exceptions aimed at appeasing the international community.

Furthermore, the Constitution grants amnesty for any crimes committed by the military under current or previous administrations, stating that no “proceeding” can be initiated against a member of the military “in respect of any act done in the execution of their respective duties.” The Constitution also exempts the Commander-in-Chief from all legal constraints, stating that his decision in the adjudication of military justice “is final and conclusive.” This provision has allowed the Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing, to issue pardons to members of the military without oversight.

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