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What happens in Burma…

September 9, 2010

…stays in Burma. At least, that has been the case for decades. While the Burmese junta has destroyed more than 3,500 villages, routinely used rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities, forcefully displayed over 1 million refugees and recruited tens of thousands of child soldiers, the so-called civilized world has largely turned a rather myopic – if not totally blind – eye.

Hopefully, this may be about to change. In March, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma called for a UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. The claim is supported by both Burmese human rights organizations and The European Parliamentary Caucus on Burma (EPCB).

The EU is currently drafting the next UN General Assembly resolution on Burma.This is a golden opportunity to turn words into action and make sure that a UN Inquiry into crimes against humanity in Burma is finally established.The pressure on EU to include a call for such an inquiry in the resolution is growing. On 17th August the USA became the fifth country to support a Commission of Inquiry , following Australia, UK, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In September, Hungary followed suit, and three prominent Burmese dissident groups, the All Burma Monks Alliance, the 88 Generation Students and the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) sent an open letter to the EU asking for their support.

The European Parliamentary Caucus on Burma (EPCB) has called on individual member states to publicly support a Commission of Inquiry.

– The ongoing atrocities in the country demonstrate the need and urgency for stronger action by the international community. Individual states and EU must take action and officially support a UN Commission of Inquiry which would be a crucial and effective preliminary step towards putting an end to the constant perpetration of grave abuses and crimes in Burma.” Silver Meikar, executive member of EPCB, said in a statement.

Don’t let them forget Burma!

Belgium is the current President of the EU Council and should as such take the lead in securing EU support for a UN Commission of Inquiry. At the web site of Burma Campaign UK, you can send an e-mail to Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme and foreign minister Steven Vanackere, urging them to support a United Nation Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. Don’t let them forget Burma!


Karen people displaced by junta forces in 2006 try to create a shelter for the rain. Photo: Free Burma Rangers.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, both Canada and New Zealand have endorsed the establishment of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity in Burma. The EU, on the other hand, has not yet decided whether to support a Commission of Inquiry and so did not include a call for such a commission in the draft text of the UN General Assembly resolution.

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