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Americans Demand President Obama Show Global Leadership in Ending Crimes against Humanity in Burma (click to view PDF)

For Immediate Release
September 26, 2011
Media Contact: Jennifer Quigley at (202) 234 8022
Note: Letter to Ambassador Stephen Rapp is attached.

(Washington DC September 26, 2011) Today the U.S. Campaign for Burma delivered 13,000 petition signatures from American citizens to the Obama administration, calling on them to provide stronger global leadership to end crimes against humanity in Burma. The petition signatures were delivered today to mark the 4th anniversary of Burma’s military regime’s violent suppression of the 2007 Saffron Revolution led by peacefully protesting Buddhist monks.

“A year ago President Obama finally declared his support for an UN Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity in Burma, but he has yet to turn his words into action. Civil war and human rights abuses are escalating in Burma and U.S. leadership is crucial to bringing justice to the country,” said Myra Dahgaypaw, Campaigns Coordinator at the U.S. Campaign for Burma. Dahgaypaw herself was an IDP/refugee for 20 years because of the military regime’s attacks against civilians in Karen State.

In the past seven months civil war has restarted in Northern Burma after decades old ceasefire agreements between the regime and ethnic groups was broken by the Burmese army. This has lead to the displacement of 70,000+ new people as well as an increase in human rights abuses such as sexual violence and forced labor. This is in addition to decades of attacks against ethnic minority civilians resulting in the displacement and destruction of over 3,700 villages. This increase in crimes continues despite the fact that Burma claims to have transitioned into a “civilian” government.

As the Burmese military’s offensives against ethnic troops have gone along with atrocities against innocent civilians in the war zones, Burmese soldiers are destroying ethnic villages; raping women and girls; forcing people into slave labor, leaving them no choice but to flee their homeland. As there is no chance the domestic legal system will protect the abused or prosecute the perpetrators, the calls by the people of Burma to the international community to help them to be free from atrocities have grown much louder.

Over the last few months, USCB members worked together with the band, U2 led by Bono, and organized their fans to sign onto this petition, calling for the United States government to take leadership in organizing other nations to support an UN Commission of Inquiry in Burma, during U2 concerts in several cities in the United States this summer.

“Justice is a crucial part of national reconciliation in any country. Burma cannot move forward until these attacks stop and the rule of law is realized. Four years ago peaceful monks were massacred, and yet the perpetrators of these atrocities have never been held accountable. How long will the Obama administration wait before taking real action to help find justice?” said Aung Din, Executive Director of U.S. Campaign for Burma. Aung Din personally hand delivered the petitions to Ambassador Stephen Rapp, U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for the Office of War Crime Issues at the State Department today.

The U.S. Campaign for Burma is a Washington, DC-based leading coalition of Burmese activists in exile and American human rights campaigners working to promote freedom, justice and democracy and to end crimes against humanity and the culture of impunity in the Southeast Asian country of Burma.

Photo Attached: U.S. Campaign for Burma Executive Director Aung Din with U.S. Ambassador Stephen Rapp

Read the letter to Ambassador Rapp here.