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Ban Ki-moon Fails to Obtain Aung San Suu Kyi’s Release, Focus Shifts Back to UN Security Council, President Obama Urged to Seek Security Council Action on Burma by U.S. Members of Congress (click to view PDF)

U.S. Campaign for Burma- Press Release
July 6, 2009, Monday
Washington, D.C. 

(Note: Letter to President Obama by 55 Members of U.S. House of Representatives Attached)

(July 6, 2009, Washington, DC) Two days after the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon not only failed to obtain the release of the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi or even a single political prisoner (out of the country’s 2,100) in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, but he also failed to even secure a meeting with her, a leading human rights organization declared the United Nations strategy for promoting change in Burma “fundamentally flawed” and urged immediate action by the UN Security Council.

Said Aung Din, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma: “For over a decade, the UN Secretary-General has sent envoys to Burma seeking changes in the country, a policy used by China and Russia as an excuse to avoid action on Burma at the UN Security Council. Finally, the world can see how this process is fundamentally flawed — without strong action by the UN Security Council, even the UN Secretary-General himself has failed.”

Ban Ki-moon, the most powerful executive in the United Nations system, spent two days in Burma pleading with the country’s military dictator Than Shwe to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in the country. Not only did Than Shwe refuse — but he even refused to allow the UN chief to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.

“The United Nations must not allow its credibility to be destroyed by a two-bit dictator like Than Shwe,” added Aung Din. “It is time for Ban Ki-moon to ask the UN Security Council to pass a global arms embargo against Burma’s military regime while at the same time initiating an inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Than Shwe’s regime.

The United Nations has used arms embargoes in numerous cases to press for change in particular countries, notably against apartheid-era South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. At the same time, a recent report commissioned by 5 of the world’s leading judges and jurists found widespread evidence suggesting that Burma’s military regime has been carrying out crimes against humanity and war crimes against its own civilians. Two weeks ago, nearly 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to President Obama urging him to take action on crimes against humanity in Burma at the UN Security Council.

“We urge you to urgently seek support at the UN Security Council for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Burmese regime’s war crimes, crimes against humanity and system of impunity. The regime must be held accountable, on behalf of the millions of people of Burma who have no other course for redress,” said U.S. Representatives, led by Congressmen Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL) in the letter to President Obama. (Please see the letter attached) In October 2007 the Security Council issued its first-ever Presidential Statement on Burma, which called for the release of all political prisoners in the country. Yet, a previous, stronger move in the form of a resolution was jointly vetoed by Russia and China. In recent weeks, news has leaked out of Burma that the country’s military regime is seeking nuclear weapons technology from North Korea — possibly setting up a scenario in which two of China’s close allies and immediate neighbors would be armed with nuclear weapons.

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