Speech by APHR Board Member Teddy Baguilat on the occasion of Myanmar’s “Martyrs’ Day”


Speech by APHR Board Member Teddy Baguilat on the occasion of Myanmar’s “Martyrs’ Day”

Speech pronounced on 19 July 2022 by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Board Member, Teddy Baguilat, on the occasion of “Martyrs’ Day” in Myanmar, at an online event organized by the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group founded after the coup d’état of 1 February 2022 by elected lawmakers. “Martyrs’ Day,” also known as “Arzani Day,” commemorates the assassination in 1947 of Aung San, the hero of Myanmar’s independence, and several other members of his cabinet.

By Teddy Baguilat.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends, I am Teddy Baguilat, Board Member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and overseeing our advocacy work on Myanmar. Thank you to the National Unity Government and the CRPH for inviting me to speak today. It is a great honour to stand here before the courageous people of Myanmar to express our solidarity and support on a day of such significance to your people.

It has been the hardest of times for Myanmar since the illegal coup more than a year ago. Martyrs Day was established to honour the heroes of the fight for independence who paid the ultimate price for their courage to act on their beliefs and their faith in the Myanmar people.

It is one of the most grotesque outcomes of Myanmar’s history that the military terrorists, who were supposed to carry the legacy of those heroes of independence, are now carrying out atrocities against the brave Myanmar people. Aung San, whose assassination is remembered today and who founded the modern Myanmar military, was adamant that soldiers should be put under the authority of the civilian government. When he founded the Myanmar military to free the Myanmar people from the yoke of imperialism, he surely did not foresee what it would become: the enemy of this very same Myanmar people.

Indeed, his daughter is languishing in jail, charged as a criminal. She and more than 90 other elected parliamentarians are being kept in jail just for being elected.

The military that is supposed to protect the people of Myanmar have instead been committing atrocities of the most brutal and cruel kind on a daily basis all because of the ambitions of a small clique led by Min Aung Hlaing. His military and security forces have shown flagrant disregard for human life, bombarding populated areas with airstrikes and heavy weapons, and deliberately targeting civilians.

The international community including ASEAN has not done enough to prevent these and other atrocities and bring the junta to account for their crimes. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights herself has said: “the military has engaged in systematic and widespread human rights violations and abuses – some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.” But still the atrocities, the torture, the detentions, destruction of homes and livelihoods continue. The world is standing idly by. Even the UN has said the appalling breadth and scale of violations of international law suffered by the people of Myanmar demand a firm, unified, and resolute international response.

While we mourn for the loss of the lives of thousands of Myanmar people under the jackboot of the military, we believe that we must also take action to alleviate the suffering of the Myanmar people so that the sacrifices made by these martyrs are not for nothing. That is why APHR has undertaken an International Parliamentary Inquiry into the international failures to respond to the Myanmar crisis. Our findings will result in recommendations which will be the basis for advocacy for urgent and effective action by governments throughout the world, ASEAN and the United Nations.

We, at APHR, want the people of Myanmar to know you are not alone. We stand with you in your grief today, we too recognise your suffering. All through the extreme violence and turmoil since the coup, it is clear that the will of the Myanmar people has not been broken. You remain committed to seeing a return to the path of democracy and to institutions that truly reflect the diversity, will and aspirations of your beautiful country. We support and stand in solidarity with your courage to take up the fight of the martyrs of Myanmar. For today, we recognise the new martyrs who fight for a new Myanmar that is at peace, inclusive, democratic and prosperous.

Teddy Baguilat is a board member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), and a former member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines.

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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