Standing for the Oppressor , Sharing the Shame (click to view PDF)

China, Russia and South Africa Encourage Burmese Military Junta to Continue Its Crimes Against Humanity in Burma by Preventing UN Security Council Intervention

For Immediate Release

January 12th, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum: (202) 234-8022

(Washington, DC, January 12, 2007) As celebrities, musicians, Nobel Peace Prize recipients, international NGOs and governments, and moreover the people of the Southeast Asian country of Burma, watched, the governments of China, Russia, and South Africa today effectively blocked action at the UN Security council on Burma. The Security Council was presented with a draft resolution on Burma by the United States. The draft resolution was designed to encourage national reconciliation and democratization in Burma, the release of all political prisoners (including the1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi), an end to human-rights abuses in the country, and inclusion of the opposition and ethnic minorities in dialogue leading to a genuine democratic transition. The resolution also prescribed active involvement by the good offices of the Secretary General, and most notably did not include punitive measures such as sanctions. While majority of the Council, United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Italy, Slovak, Peru, Panama and Ghana supported the resolution, China and Russia exercised their veto powers to reject it. South Africa also opposed the resolution, while Qatar, Indonesia, and Congo abstained. This is the first time in history that a resolution on Burma was presented to the UN Security Council.

“I am very disappointed by the actions of these governments. By rejecting the proposed resolution, they effectively signal to the Burmese military junta to continue its crimes against humanity and its war on its own citizens,” said Aung Din, a former political prisoner and Policy Director of the US Campaign for Burma. In response to China, Russia, Indonesia, and South Africa’s opposition to a recent UN General Assembly resolution on Burma, Aung Din said, “They say that the Security Council is not the proper venue for discussing Burma, but they voted against Burma resolution at the UN General Assembly as well. Their actions indicate they don’t want to give us any possible venue to highlight the Burmese regime’s atrocious abuses and seek an end to these attacks and abuses. They are giving the regime a license to kill.”

In the last months, renowned celebrities and musicians including Tim Robbins, Peter Gabriel, Suzanne Vega, and Damien Rice have called for the UN Security Council to take urgent action on Burma’s increasing threat to international peace and security. Thirteen Nobel Peace Prize recipients, including South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, have also recently urged the Security Council to take action. Major refugee and humanitarian organizations, such as Church World Service, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have pressed for the Security Council to act. Action at the UN Security Council has been strongly supported by groups working inside Burma and leading the non-violent pro-democracy movement. The National League for Democracy, the political party led by Aung San Suu Kyi that overwhelmingly won 1990 elections, issued a statement yesterday, calling on members of the Security Council to support the resolution. The Committee Representing the People Parliament (CRPP), United Nationalities Alliance (UNA),United Nationality League for Democracy (UNLD), The 88-Generation Students, Association of Veteran Politicians have all called for the Council to address the situation in Burma. Two members of Parliament-elect, who are still living in Burma, risked their lives by writing an opinion piece, entitled “A Cry for UN Help” in the Washington Post in October.

The push for a UN Security Council resolution comes after 10 years of failed UN efforts and 18
 years of current military junta took over power by killing as many as ten thousands democracy activists in the 1988 nationwide popular democracy uprising. The UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights have passed a total of 29 consecutive resolutions calling for change in Burma and sent envoys on dozens of trips to the country, all of which have been ignored by the military regime. Unlike these other UN bodies, however, decisions by the Security Council are binding. The United States and its allies successfully placed Burma on the Council’s permanent agenda for the first time in history in September 2006.

Burma is ruled by one of the world’s most brutal military dictatorships, led by General Than Shwe. Besides locking up Suu Kyi and over 1,200 other political prisoners, Than Shwe’s regime has destroyed over 3,000 ethnic minority villages in a scorched earth policy designed to root out all opposition to its rule. Over one million refugees have fled the country, while an additional ½ million remain internal refugees, where many are hunted down and killed like animals. The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, has called on countries around the world to impose sanctions on Burma for its use of modern-day slave labor. Many people continue to die and flee as a result of the regime’s policies, and the Associated Press reported on the slaughter, calling Burma “Southeast Asia’s Darfur”. “The UN Security Council has passed numerous resolutions on similar situations, intervening in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Rwanda, Liberia and Cambodia. It is a shocking double standard that they refused to protect the people of Burma,” said Aung Din.

Aung San Suu Kyi is often referred to as “Asia’s Nelson Mandela” for her work to peacefully bring democracy and human rights to Burma. She won the Nobel Peace Prize after leading her political party, the National League for Democracy, to a landslide 82% victory in Burma’s last democratic election. The regime refused to recognize the results, and has kept her locked up for 11 of the past 18 years.

“We still believe that the UN Security Council intervention is essential and important to make national reconciliation and democratization possible in Burma and we believe that the United States and its allies will continue to push the UN Security Council to address the situation in Burma,” Aung Din said.