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As Military Regime Launches New Attacks on Minorities in Burma, Activists Welcome Second Discussion by UN Security Council and Call for Action (click to view PDF)

For Immediate Release
May 31st, 2006
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum and Cristina Moon, (202)223-0300 (office) or (202) 246 7924

(New York and Washington, DC) The U.S. Campaign
 for Burma today praised members of the UN Security Council for holding a discussion on Burma. This is only the second briefing on Burma in history by the Council, and comes six months after the previous briefing in December 2005, during which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan laid down a series of steps that should be taken by the military regime by mid-2006. Not a single one of those prescribed steps has been taken.

“None of the goals laid out by Secretary General Annan six months ago have been met, it is past time for the Security Council to put Burma on the formal agenda and pass a resolution,” said Aung Din, a former political prisoner and Policy Director at the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

The briefing comes the same day that the regime’s army launched an attack against Karen villagers in eastern Burma. In the past few months, regime troops have driven 18,000 villagers from their homes, and now another 3,000 are in immediate danger of attacks from the Burma army. These internally displaced persons join those who have fled from 2,700 villages burned or otherwise destroyed by the military regime in eastern Burma over the past 10 years. Survival is extremely difficult as the junta hunts down villagers and kills them like animals. According to the respected human rights organization Refugees International, over 1 million refugees have fled the country.

The recent attacks may represent the largest military offensive in ten years.

The discussion also comes just days after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed publicly to regime leader Than Shwe to release Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient. In what was seen as a diplomatic slap in the face, Than Shwe pointedly refused, and extended her detention another year. The United States, European Union, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, and others had also all called for her release.

“The Council should move quickly to take
 necessary action to stop killing and violence against civilians, by adopting a binding resolution calling on the Burmese military regime to fully cooperate with Secretary General Kofi Annan,” added Aung Din. “This resolution should also include demanding that the regime release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, allow all political parties to function freely, immediately stop attacking civilians and ethnic nationalities, and begin a tripartite dialogue with NLD and ethnic representatives.”

The United Nations and other bodies have attempted countless failed attempts at diplomacy on Burma, passing 28 consecutive UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions that have been summarily ignored by the ruling military regime. The European Union has sent several failed “troika” missions to Burma, while the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ “Bangkok Process” fell apart in 2004. Bilateral efforts at provoking change by Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand have also failed.

Unlike other UN mechanism, the Security Council is the only body within the UN system that can pass and enforce binding resolutions on a UN member country.