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United for Burma

August 6, 2009

A couple of weeks ago 55 members of  the US Congress sent a letter to Obama urging him to call for an official UN Security Council investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma¹. So far, the  calls for change in Burma have fallen on the deaf ears of Than Shwe and the other generals in the Burmese junta. However, Obama now has an unparalleled opportunity to do something for the Burmese people – with more than a little help from his friends.


In August and September, the United Kingdom and the United States will serve consecutively as President of the UN Security Council. The UK and US ambassadors to the UN, John Sawers and Susan Rice, thus have the power to propose a resolution establishing a United Nations Security Council Commission of Inquiry into the Burmese military regime’s crimes against humanity and war crimes against Burma’s civilian population.

While the trial against daw Aung San Suu Kyi briefly brought Burma to the world’s attention, the bulk of the heinous crimes Than Shwe’s regime routinely commit against the Burmese people go largely unnoticed by the outside world.These atrocities are rarely mentioned  at the UN Security Council, and many countries have turned a blind eye to what is going on in Burma.This has to end. Now.

Change or complicity

In an article in The Guardian, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu points out that change is overdue to the framework within which the international community approaches Burma. Like the 55 American Congressmen, the former Archbishop of Cape Town calls on the UN to establish a commission of inquiry. Failure to do so, Tutu states, amounts to complicity with the crimes committed by the Burmese regime: the destruction of more than 3000 villages and the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of innocent men, women and children.

Tutu also calls for an international arms embargo, as those countries supplying arms to Burma are facilitating these atrocities.

United we stand

“Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma deserve nothing less than our most strenuous efforts to help them secure their freedom. Every day we must ask ourselves: have we done everything that we can? I pledge that I will not rest until Aung San Suu Kyi, and all the people of Burma, are free. Please join me,” Tutu concludes his article.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate or a member of the US Congress to support the Burmese people. The US Campaign for Burma has created a petition calling on the UK and US ambassadors to the UN, John Sawersand Susan Rice to support Desmond Tutu’s call for a UN Security Council Commission of Inquiry and a global arms embargo on Burma. By signing this petition, you and I can make a small difference for the Burmese people. United, the United States & Kingdom can make a huge difference. It is time to unite for Burma!

¹ According to the US Campaign for Burma, 60 members of the British parliament have urged the same action

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