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UN Commission of Inquiry in Burma Necessary to Prevent Further Abuses by the Military Regime as Escalation of Civil War Looms (click to view PDF)

Immediate Press Release
November 9, 2010
Media Contact: Jennifer Quigley at (202) 234 8022

(Washington, DC, November 9, 2010) As fierce fighting broke out between the military regime and some ethnic forces in Karen state recently, the possibility of an escalation of civil war looms in ethnic minority areas. The U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB) calls on the UN Security Council to take effective action to pressure the regime to pursue a peaceful solution through an all-inclusive political dialogue and the UN General Assembly to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma as a necessary preventative measure.

“The situation in Burma is now on the verge of chaos as the military regime completed its sham elections on Sunday with an aim to install a permanent military dictatorship in the country under the disguise of a so-called civilian government”, says Aung Din, former political prisoner and Executive Director of USCB, based in Washington, DC. Widespread fraud, voter intimidation, cheating, and irregularities were reported throughout the country. It is clear that the authorities, election commission and the regime’s party the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) worked together to secure victories for their USDP candidates. While the ‘official’ 
election results have not been announced, USDP leaders already claimed that their party won over 80% of the contested seats, about 60% of the total. Combined with 25% of the seats which will be appointed by the Commander in Chief, the military and its proxy party the USDP will control over 85% of the seats in the Parliaments (both national and state/regional levels), and they will crush any voices from the so-called opposition MPs.

As expected, Burma will be under the continued military rule and escalating violence. Those political parties, who had believed that they could bring about change in the country by participating in the election, have begun to say that they would not recognize the elections’ results. The people of Burma who were forced to polling stations and whose votes were manipulated by the regime continue to challenge military rule. Ethnic minorities whose fundamental rights were denied by the regime’s constitution and election are attempting to protect their population from the regime’s abuses. On Election Day, a Karen armed group, called the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which was allied with the regime in the past, attacked the regime’s troops in two important towns on the Thai-Burma border, “Myawaddy” and “Three Pagodas”, and seized these towns for two days. During the severe fighting, both sides used heavy artillery and forced tens of thousands of residents to flee to Thailand. Several bridges connecting these towns and other parts of Burma were destroyed by the DKBA soldiers, who attempted to block the regime’s troops marching toward the areas.

Other ethnic resistance groups, such as the Karen National Union (KNU), the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Karen Peace Council (KPC) also helped DKBA in fight the Burmese Army. Other powerful ethnic resistance armies operating on the China-Burma border, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and the Shan State Army (South) (SSA-South) are also putting their troops on alert and preparing to respond if they are attacked by the regime’s troops. They all have refused to participate in the elections and to put their troops under the direct command of the regime in the name of Border Guard Forces. They recently formed a military alliance.

“This is the time for members of the United Nations to adopt a resolution to establish a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma during the ongoing UN General Assembly. This is essential and urgent to prevent further crimes perpetrated by the military regime as an escalation of civil war is almost unavoidable,” said Aung Din. “I also call on the UN Security Council to take effective action to demand the 
regime stop its violence against the people and start negotiations with democracy forces led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and ethnic representatives for a peaceful solution in Burma,” Aung Din continues.