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U.S. Supports UN Investigation on Crimes against Humanity in Burma (click to view PDF)

Activists Demand Canada and EU to Join the U.S and Call for UN Resolutions to Establish Commission of Inquiry War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Burma Should Be Stopped and the Generals Be Held Accountable

August 18, 2010
Washington, DC
Media Contact: Mike Haack at (202) 234-8022

(Washington, DC) After months of rigorous grassroots campaign led by United States Campaign for Burma (USCB) and repeated requests from the U.S. lawmakers, the Obama administration finally agreed to support the establishment of an UN-led Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes taking place in the Southeast Asian country of Burma.

The USCB, a leading coalition of Burmese activists in exile and American human rights supporters working to promote freedom, justice and democracy in Burma, welcomes and supports the decision of the U.S. administration, reported by the Washington Post and Foreign Policy Blog today. Aung Din, former political prisoner and Executive Director of USCB said, “This is the right and timely action by the Obama administration responding to the power hungry and brutal military generals in Nay Pyi Taw, who are seeking to wipe clean their bloody hands and obtain underserved legitimacy through a sham constitution put into effect through a sham election.”

“This is a clear message that the United States will not recognize the generals’ show-case election and will hold them accountable for their human rights abuses against their own citizens, especially against ethnic minorities of Burma,” Aung Din continues. He demands, “the U.S., along with the Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Australia, and Slovakia, which have expressed support for the UN-led Commission of Inquiry, should call on the European Union and Canada to work together to organize UN resolutions, asking UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up the Commission, in the upcoming UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council meetings in September, where China and Russia cannot exercise veto powers to kill the resolution.”

Three weeks ago, on July 30, a bipartisan group of 32 Senators, led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling for the U.S government “to support the establishment of a UN-led Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes” in Burma. In June 2009, nearly 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY), wrote to President Obama urging him to take action on Burma at the UN Security Council. Since last May, the USCB has organized campaigns and rallied thousands of free Burma activists to send emails to President Obama to support the UN-led commission of Inquiry in Burma.

In May 2009, the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School released a groundbreaking report; entitled “Crimes in Burma” commissioned by five prominent international judges and war crimes prosecutors. The report concluded that for years the United Nations has documented widespread and systematic human rights abuses in Burma committed by successive military regimes, but has failed to take effective action. 

In March 2010, at the 13th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Burma, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana of Argentina endorsed the call of Burma activists around the world and urged the United Nations “to consider the possibility to establish a commission of inquiry with a specific fact finding mandate to address the question of international crimes” in Burma. Mr. Quintana’s recommendation to establish a UN Commission of Inquiry is supported by his two predecessors, Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro (2000-2008) of Brazil (“End Burma’s System of Impunity, Opinion, The New York Times, May 27, 2009), and Professor Yozo Yokoda (1992-1996) of Japan (“Challenging Impunity in Myanmar, Opinion, The Jakarta Post, June 6, 2010).