HUMAN RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTATION AND TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE TRAINING
What are they?
AAPP provides training on human rights and transitional justice to former political prisoners, members of political parties including the NLD, USDP, and regional parliaments, activists and other stakeholders in the human rights arena to protect and promote human rights. It is our firm belief that a strong knowledge of human rights is necessary for protecting human rights. The training’s provide participants with a firm knowledge of human rights, citizenship rights and responsibilities. One major benefit of the training is that it creates an oversight body among civil society, as they are able to monitor human rights violations in their area. Furthermore, increasing lawmaker’s knowledge of human rights will facilitate the amendment and review of legislation in line with international human rights standards.
Originally, the intent of these training sessions was to provide former political prisoners with the skills they require to get back into the political life they had prior to imprisonment. The success of our trainings has resulted in their expansion to new groups of participants including ethnic youths, activists, human right defenders, political party members, local intelligence personnel, activists and other stakeholders in the human rights arena in order to protect and promote human rights. It provides these people with skills and expertise to allow them to reintegrate back into society and be valued and confident members of the community once again. The training further aims to educate MP’s and influential individuals in human rights, human rights documentation, and transitional justice in order to ensure history does not repeat itself.
How do they work?
Each training lasts for 11 days, six days on human rights and five on transitional justice. The main aim of the human rights training is raising awareness of human rights issues. At the beginning of the training, participants are asked for their expectations of the training and their understanding of human rights. Next, they are taught about basic human rights concepts including the UDHR and the history of human rights. They analyze human rights violations, particularly those perpetrated by the Burma government, and how to monitor and prevent them. Group discussions give participants the chance to actively take part and reflect upon their own knowledge and understanding of human rights concepts. Participants also get the opportunity to familiarize themselves with civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in comparison to the UDHR. All of the training is taught in relation to the Burma context, the 2008 Constitution and its National Human Rights Commission Law so participants can develop ideas on how to improve the human right situation in Burma.
The transitional justice training helps attendees gain an understanding of the theory and concepts behind transitional justice. They are taught that transitional justice is not about revenge, but about reparations, truth, justice and institutional reform. Additionally, they learn about the importance of the documentation process and the need for practical and systematic information gathering. Case studies and lessons learned from transitional justice mechanisms in other contexts are provided to illustrate the application of these theories.
What have we learnt?
It is clear that the training has had an immense impact on participants. Participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Many participants expressed the need for more training like this in their area. Further testament to the impact of the training was an invite from the Parliament Chair Person of Irrawaddy Regional Parliament, asking AAPP to come and conduct a workshop in the Regional Parliament in Pathein, Irrawaddy Division. This was the first opportunity AAPP has had to work with the Regional Parliament. Over the three days of training, the participants learnt about human rights, the UDHR and other conventions, democracy, the role of government, and how to apply these ideas in the context of Burma.
Aside from providing participants with valuable skills and knowledge about human rights and transitional justice, the training programs provide insight into the different human rights violations affecting the different regions of Burma, provide training and advice to Human Rights Defenders on how they can be documented and adequately addressed.
The sessions are particularly valuable in helping to reform the political environment in Burma. Not only do/will they allow for more comprehensive documentation of human rights violations throughout the country, but they will also allow civil society to better engage in discussions involving transitional justice mechanisms and facilitate their engagement in the national reconciliation process.
Figure 1: Map of AAPP Training Locations