Ministry of State Counsellor’s Office Director General U Zaw Htay held a press conference in Presidential Palace, Nay Pyi Taw yesterday afternoon and briefed on the Child’s Rights Bill and action taken on a case that occured at Wisdom Hill Preschool.
Director-General U Zaw Htay said the day’s event was a regular Press Briefing and special guests Myanmar Police Force Deputy Police Chief Police Maj-Gen Aung Naing Thu and Social Welfare Department Deputy Director-General Daw Rupa Mya were invited.
First point to be briefed is the matter of Wisdom Hill Preschool. Everyone now knew about the incident and the President and the State Counsellor were not ignoring the matter. Instructions were given to Ministry of Home Affairs and Myanmar Police Force to expose the truth. Some matters were also explained in Facebook too.
Second point is the matter of the Child’s Rights Bill. There’s been some recent demonstration against this bill. The bill was sent to the President by Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on 7 June for the President to sign and enact it into a law. The President reviewed the bill and obtained the legal advice of Union Attorney General. On 18 June it was returned to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw with three comments. The first comment was on including or omitting the word ministry in the definition of temporary care center. The second comment was whether to change or not the words physical and mental to physical abuse and mental abuse. The third comment was whether to change or not the writing style in clause 76 of the bill. There had been many criticism on the bill and some of those will be answered in detail during the question and answer session.
On the matter of peace process there are plans to discuss with groups that had signed the NCA. RCSS and NRPC will meet in Nay Pyi Taw on 11 July. On 12 July RCSS and Tatmadaw will meet. Another matter is KNPP that hadn’t signed the KNPP. KNPP and NRPC will meet in Nay Pyi Taw on 17 July. On 18 July KNPP and Tatmadaw will meet. During the coming few weeks there’ll be an unofficial meeting with KNU in Yangon.
The other matter is the four groups from the northern alliance. Government representatives led by Peace Commission Vice Chairman U Thein Zaw and secretary Lt-Gen (retired) U Khin Zaw Oo met with the four groups in Mongla. After the meeting the government side had sent a draft Bilateral Ceasefire Agreement which the four groups were reviewing. They’ll reply at the earliest on 14 and 15 July or at the latest on end July and discussion were ongoing to designate the date and place for the next meeting.
Next, Myanmar Police Force Deputy Police Chief Police Maj-Gen Aung Naing Thu and Social Welfare Department Deputy Director-General Daw Rupa Mya explained about status of actions taken on the case that occurs at Wisdom Hill Preschool.
Director-General U Zaw Htay, Deputy Police Chief Police Maj-Gen Aung Naing Thu and Deputy Director-General Daw Rupa Mya responded and explained to the questions raised.
Replying to questions of Myanmar government responding to a statement by a member of United States House of Representatives on Rakhine State affair and the matter of birth, birth registration, citizenship in the Child’s Rights Bill, Director General U Zaw Htay said the statement was made by a member of US House of Representatives and was not a statement of the US government. At a policy discussion on south and central Asia held at US States Department, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs had explained that the US stand was to support the territorial sovereignty of a country. The view of US government was made at that discussion.
The statement of the member of the US House of Representative was believed to be based on an exaggerated news and information. The government’s official stand is not accepting any act that affects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. The government’s stand will always remain the same.
The demonstrators staged protests against the bill without understanding the clauses in the bill.
On the birth certificate, it was written in red letter that this is not a certificate of citizenship. The meaning is that the certificate is just an evidence of birth only. Clause 22 of the Child’s Rights Bill stated that child registered at birth will have the right to citizenship as enacted in the laws. Whether the child registered at birth was adopted or is elsewhere, the child’s citizenship will be determined by 1982 Citizenship Law. Adopting a child doesn’t make that child a citizen automatically. Whether the child was adopted by a citizen, associate citizen or naturalized citizen, a non-citizen child will not become a citizen. A registration of a birth would not make the registered child a citizen.
Clause 32 (b) of the Child’s Rights Bill stated that adopted child will have equal rights as a biological child including inheritance right and other rights. Adoption is a family matter and birth certificate is the matter of a child’s right. Citizenship is the matter of the State. However the parents in the birth certificate of the child adopted the child, the child will not become a citizen. Citizenship is according to 1982 Citizenship Law.
Section 22 of the 1982 the Citizenship Law states that a child registered at birth will have citizenship rights according to the enacted laws. On adopted child, Section 73 of 1982 Citizenship Law states that an adopted foreign child of a citizen or associate citizen or naturalized citizen is not a citizen or association citizen or naturalized citizen. Parents being a citizen or associate citizen or naturalized citizen didn’t automatically make a child a citizen or associate citizen or naturalized citizen.
Whether an adopted child is a citizen or not is decided by 1982 Citizenship Law. There had been demonstration and complaints mixing up birth registration, adoption and citizenship. The demonstrators staged protests against the bill without understanding the clauses in the bill. The main point is the statement “according to enacted law” and the enacted law is the 1982 the Citizenship Law said the Director General.
Violence against child at Wisdom Hill Preschool
On the questions regarding Wisdom Hill Preschool matter Director General U Zaw Htay said the President and the State Counsellor were aware of it and had given instructions to officials while closely monitoring it.
Afterwards Myanmar Police Force Deputy Police Chief Police Maj-Gen Aung Naing Thu and Social Welfare Department Deputy Director General Daw Rupa Mya explained about the case in Wisdom Hill Preschool, rumors circulating in social networks about it, findings from investigating witnesses and status of actions taken.
Director General U Zaw Htay then said Wisdom Hill Preschool was temporarily closed by Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. As this incident has occurred permission will not be granted to Wisdom Hill Preschool. In addition to Wisdom Hill there are also some preschool, primary, middle and high schools.
The President had instructed Ministry of Education to review and evaluate all and to take action for any inconsistency with rules and regulations. Effective action will be taken. Children were enrolled in such schools and some similar cases were found to have occurred. Cases were filed at courts and courts will handle it. Wisdom Hill was opened without official permission. Action will be taken for this. Action will also be taken against officials who turned a blind eye on such unauthorized schools being opened, said the Director General.
On the questions of armed conflicts in Rakhine State, plan to cease fighting, plan to reconnect the cut internet lines in Rakhine State, plan for Tatmadaw and AA to hold discussion and negotiation, Director General U Zaw Htay said there was a need to come to the discussion table for fighting to cease. NRPC and Peace Commission is arranging to sign a Bilateral Ceasefire with four members of the northern alliance. For fighting to cease in Rakhine State, it is important to come to the negotiation table. Fighting will continue for long on the ground if they didn’t come to the negotiation table.
Internet shut down in Rakhine State is temporary. But there was not limitation set on how many days it’ll be. This was being reviewed and could not be answered in detail. However, it is a temporary measure.
As announced by Tatmadaw a ceasefire was announced in five military commands. Tatmadaw has stated that Rakhine State was not included so it is not necessary to say about this here. There also is no plan for a tripartite meeting between the government, Tatmadaw and AA said the Director General.
On the question of civilian casualties in the Rakhine State conflict Director General U Zaw Htay said the armed engagements in Rakhine State were conducted according to the law and casualties are the outcomes of armed engagements. There had been similar incidences in other states and regions too. The main points are: one to be in accordance with the law, two to have no human rights violation and three of the possibility of criticisms. Care had been taken and was mentioned earlier that there can be accusations toward both sides. The stand will be for the armed engagements to be according to law.
On the question of whether there are Union Ministers accused of corruption, Director General U Zaw Htay said this had to be answered by Anti-Corruption Commission. Some matters were being handled by the government. There’ll be detailed explanation later but for now there’ll be no comment on this he said.
On the question of plan to open more preschools, U Zaw Htay replied that this will depend on budget for Department of Social Welfare.
Commenting further on the preschool case in Nay Pyi Taw, U Zaw Htay said guideline and instruction of the President and the State Counsellor was explained in detail. The main issue when a case occurs is to expose the truth. The exposures were now at the court and the court will make a decision. Suspects are suspects until a court made a decision or judgment and that was why the word suspect was used. Any matters concerning child should be handled with care and restraint in social media or else it will adversely affect the future of the child said U Zaw Htay.
Director General U Zaw Htay then said there had been over 20 demonstrations against Child’s Rights Bill. Some groups had even issued statements. What they are stating and the statements in the bill are different. Earlier a request to the public for legal suggestions and advice was made in the newspaper. The matters for which the public’s suggestions and advices were requested were no longer the same when it becomes a bill. People were concerned that citizenship was not covered in the enacted laws. But enacted laws already covered citizenship. Especially people were worried about adoption. It is not true that adopting a child automatically make the children a citizen.
Organizations and entities are requested to understand clearly adoption and citizenship. The people are also requested to not to worry about adoption and citizenship. The government had reviewed this thoroughly. Just as the people are worried, the leaders are also concerned especially about citizenship and we are taking great care in conducting this matter said the Director General. — MNA