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UN Investigation of Human Rights Violations in Burma is Welcomed European Union, United States, Canada, and Australia Urged to Make it Happen in the UN General Assembly and Human Rights council Meetings in September 2010 (click to view PDF)

1.     We welcome and support the endorsement of the United States for a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma, as recommended by UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Burma, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana in March 2010. We are also encouraged by the support shown by the United Kingdom, Australia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Canada on Mr. Quintana’s recommendation.

2.     The people of Burma have been oppressed by successive military regimes since 1962. The military staged a coup, followed by an abolishment of 14-year-old parliamentary democracy system. Democracy activists and human rights defenders who have challenged the regime’s illegal rule were brutally killed, unlawfully arrested, rigorously tortured, and arbitrarily detained, unfairly sentenced, and inhumanly imprisoned in remote prisons for many years.

3.     Human rights violations are particularly severe in ethnic minority areas where the regime has launched a large-scale military offence to suppress and subjugate the ethnic resistance movements. As a result of scorched-earth campaigns, over 3,500 ethnic villages have been razed to the ground. Tens of thousands of villagers are forced to porter and relocate homes at gunpoint. Civilians are also used as human shields as well as mine-sweepers, on a land littered with landmines. Thousands of women and girls are raped, used as a weapon of war. Over 500,000 ethnic people are displaced from their homes, living out their days in hiding from the army. Moreover, over 2 million people have fled to neighboring countries to become refugees or illegal immigrants. Human rights violations are a day-to-day occurrence in Burma, operating under a system of impunity. A UN commission of Inquiry to investigate these egregious crimes committed by the military regime is not only necessary but long overdue.

4.     The creation of a UN Commission on Burma is even more imperative given the regime is trying to shore up its military power via the sham 2008 constitution and election scheduled for November 7, 2010. The constitution grants blanket amnesty and immunity to the military generals of any crimes committed during their incumbencies and beyond. It also specifically states that military personnel cannot be put on trial under the given civilian judiciary system. Instead, they can only be tried by the military court appointed by the Commander-in-Chief. We believe that the UN Commission of Inquiry will be an important first step towards justice and accountability in Burma, where the generals will be held responsible for their heinous crimes.

5.     We believe such an international action will transpire an end to human rights violations in Burma, and force the military generals to come to the negotiating table with democracy forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy party and ethnic representatives. This multi-party dialogue is a much-needed step towards a peaceful national reconciliation in the country.

6.     We know the European Union is drafting a resolution on Burma, which will be submitted to the UN General Assembly in the near future. We strongly urge the EU take this opportunity to stand with us on the side of justice and call on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to establish the UN Commission of Inquiry in Burma. We advise the EU to make this important  recommendation in its draft resolution for Burma. Meanwhile, we recommend the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries work with the EU to make the UN Commission in Burma possible at the upcoming UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council meetings.