Save Burma

ျပည္သူေတြဆီမွာ လြတ္လပ္မႈနဲ႔ တန္းတူညီမွ်မႈ အရင္ဆံုး ရွိေနမွ ဒီမိုိကေရစီ စံႏႈန္းရွိတာ ျဖစ္ပါတယ္။

Posts Tagged ‘Myanmar

US backs inquiry into alleged Burma war crimes

leave a comment »

BBC

US backs inquiry into alleged Burma war crimes

By Kim Ghattas BBC News, Washington

18 August 2010 Last updated at 20:14 GMT

The US government says it will back the creation of an international commission to investigate alleged war crimes by Burma’s military junta.

The body could advance the cause of human rights in Burma by “addressing issues of accountability” for members of the regime, the White House said.

A senior US official told the BBC the move was still consistent with the US policy of engagement with Burma.

The US announced in 2009 that it would engage diplomatically with Burma.

In March, UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana released a critical report referring to “systematic violation of human rights” for years in the country.

Continue reading the main story

Related stories

The Obama administration’s aim was to help put Burma on a path to reform, achieve credible elections as well as promote national reconciliation, including with the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyii.

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says efforts have yielded no improvement in the situation inside the country, ahead of general elections scheduled for 7 November.

“Diplomatic engagement is not a reward – it is a tool designed to facilitate and encourage positive change,” a state department official told the BBC.

“We have been clear all along this did not preclude us from taking steps to increase pressure when warranted.”

Further sanctions

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

This is a clear message that the United States will not recognize their show-case election and will make them accountable for their horrible abuses against their own citizens”

End Quote Aung Din, executive director US Campaign for Burma

The commission of inquiry could be formed either through the UN Human Rights Council, through a UN General Assembly resolution or by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and could eventually lead to a war crimes prosecution.

The US official hinted that further sanctions on Burma were also possible.

“Our sanctions regime is dynamic, is constantly being assessed for efficacy, and is capable of being adjusted as warranted by conditions within Burma and the actions of the Burmese government,” he added.

The US move has been welcomed by human rights organisations like the US Campaign for Burma.

“This is the right and timely action by the Obama administration in response to the power-thirsty and brutal generals in [the Burmese capital] Nay Pyi Taw, who are expecting to delete their dirty crimes by putting a sham constitution into effect through a sham election,” said the group’s executive director, Aung Din.

“This is a clear message that the United States will not recognize their show-case election and will make them accountable for their horrible abuses against their own citizens.”

It is unclear what impact, if any, the commission will have on the leadership, particularly the ruling General Than Shwe.

But much of what drives policy towards Burma, including the decision to engage, is about influencing younger members of the junta, who may not be as deeply involved in any alleged war crimes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11015596

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 23, 2010 at 2:27 am

Why a U.N. probe of Burma is a crucial step

leave a comment »

Why a U.N. probe of Burma is a crucial step

Friday, August 20, 2010; A22

THE EVIDENCE against Burma’s junta has been piling up for many years. Thousands upon thousands of girls and women raped as a tactic of war by the Burmese army; children press-ganged to serve as porters; 3,500 villages burned to the ground in recent years; millions of people forced from their homes — these are some of the crimes against humanity sponsored by the generals who rule their Southeast Asian nation of 50 million people.

Now, by deciding to support a United Nations commission of inquiry into these misdeeds, the Obama administration has acknowledged the weight of the evidence and has testified to the urgency of holding criminals accountable for their crimes. It is a major step forward. The U.N. special envoy for Burma (also known as Myanmar), Tom?s Ojea Quintana, has called for such an inquiry, citing the “the gross and systematic nature of human rights violations in Myanmar over a period of many years.” In Congress there is strong bipartisan backing for such an inquiry. Most important, Burmese human rights activists and dissidents both inside and outside the country have supported such an inquiry, sometimes at great personal risk.

Backing a U.N. commission does not supplant previous U.S. policy. It’s not a substitute for economic sanctions, which should be extended and targeted more precisely at the nation’s leaders. Nor does it replace the administration’s policy of engagement, which has yet to bear fruit but need not be discarded. Had Burmese leader Than Shwe responded more positively to administration outreach, investigation into his crimes would nonetheless have been appropriate. Conversely, an inquiry need not discourage the administration from reaching out in a pragmatic way.

What an inquiry can do, however, is signal to the younger officers around Than Shwe, 77, that their futures may be brighter if they do not hitch themselves to his policies of mass rape and ethnic cleansing (not to mention his deepening ties with North Korea). It can provide a ray of hope and moral support to the unimaginably brave fighters for democracy inside Burma, who will carry on their struggle with or without such encouragement. And it can signal to the most offensive dictators around the world that they cannot escape justice by selling off their nations’ timber and natural gas, or by scheduling (as has Than Shwe) fraudulent elections aimed at civilianizing their authoritarian regimes.

If its support of a commission of inquiry is to be more than a gesture, the Obama administration now must engage in hard-headed diplomacy. That means making clear to China, the European Union, Canada, India, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others that justice for Burma is a priority and not an afterthought. It will take work. But, as President Obama said when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, “When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma — there must be consequences. . . . And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/19/AR2010081905723.html

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 23, 2010 at 2:22 am

The United Nations General Assembly & Burma

leave a comment »

This is grabbed from Burma Campaign UK on Facebook.

Burma Briefing No: 2

Comment, Briefing & Analysis From Burma Campaign UK

The United Nations General Assembly & Burma

Key points:

19 Resolutions on Burma by the General Assembly have been ignored by the dictatorship ruling the country.

Since 1992, 18 years ago, the General Assembly has been calling on the dictatorship in Burma to respect the Geneva Conventions, but it is still failing to do so.[1]

Language used in past General Assembly Resolution relates to 15 possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In 2002, 8 years ago, the General Assembly called for an independent international investigation into abuses of civilians.

Despite 17 calls for inquiries since 1997, the General Assembly has failed to exercise its power to establish its own inquiry into abuses, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On grounds of international law and justice, political reality, and morality, ‘elections’ due in Burma later this year should not be used as a reason not to, or to delay, the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry.

The 20th United Nations General Assembly resolution on Burma is an opportunity to build on and start to enforce previous resolutions. The General Assembly must take the next logical step and establish a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

Summary

United Nations General Assembly, made up of all members of the United Nations, has been adopting resolutions on the situation in Burma since 1991. In late 2010 it is expected to adopt its 20th Resolution on Burma.

The Resolutions, which are not binding under international law, have made many requests to the dictatorship ruling Burma, the overwhelming majority of which have been completely ignored. Indeed, the Resolutions themselves have frequently referred to the fact that previous resolutions have been ignored.

The nineteen Resolutions which the General Assembly have passed on Burma have expanded from a few paragraphs in 1991 to a few pages in 2009.[2] They now refer to a wide range of human rights abuses and other issues, which is a welcome step forward. However, they have not progressed in terms of responding in a practical way to the fact that the Resolutions are being ignored. Nor have they responded in a logical and responsible way to the increased seriousness of the abuses revealed by United Nations reports, and then referred to in the General Assembly Resolutions.

With regards to the continued refusal by the dictatorship to act on General Assembly Resolutions, the logical step for the Assembly, given the seriousness of the abuses, and failure of the dictatorship to act, would be referring the situation in Burma to the United Nations Security Council, which has binding powers, and calling on the Council to adopt a binding resolution enforcing General Assembly requests. The General Assembly resolutions regularly refer to Burma as causing problems for neighbouring countries and as meeting the general criteria as a non-traditional threat to the peace. Resolutions also refer to abuses which constitute possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, which the Security Council has a duty to act on. In addition, the Security Council, in placing Burma on its formal agenda, has already agreed the situation in Burma meets the criteria for its engagement.  For the General Assembly to call on the Security Council to act is a practical and sensible next step.

–   First reference by General Assembly to international law relating to war crimes: 1992

–   First reference by General Assembly to abuses that are now classified by the Rome Statute as possible crimes against humanity: 1992

The most serious failure of the General Assembly regarding Burma is in relation to international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The United Nations General Assembly has consistently referred to abuses which could qualify as war crimes and crimes against humanity. It has also repeatedly called on the dictatorship to abide by the Geneva Conventions. However, it has failed to use language such as war crimes – which is what breaches of the Geneva Conventions amount to, or crimes against humanity, which many of the other abuses it refers to amount to. The failure to use such language assists the dictatorship in avoiding the international action that its actions should entail.

The General Assembly has also frequently called for independent investigations into the serious human rights abuses taking place. The General Assembly has called for several different kinds of investigations, including investigations by the dictatorship, independent investigations, investigations in cooperation with the dictatorship but led by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, and even an independent international investigation.

Despite the fact that none of these investigations, which the General Assembly has now been calling for since 1997, have ever taken place, the General Assembly has failed to take the next logical step of establishing its own investigation, which it has the power to do.

In March 2010, the UN Special Rapporteur on Burma called for a UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. He stated that the abuses were: ‘a state policy that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels’. He further stated: ‘According to consistent reports, the possibility exists that some of these human rights violations may entail categories of crimes against humanity or war crimes under the terms of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.’ … ‘UN institutions may consider the possibility to establish a commission of inquiry with a specific fact finding mandate to address the question of international crimes.'[3]

As governments start to consult on the contents of the 20th General Assembly resolution on Burma, they should now ensure that the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry be part of the Resolution. Continuing to comment on abuses that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, but failing to use language which describes them as such, and also failing to take action within the power of the General Assembly to investigate those abuses, can only add to the sense of impunity which the dictatorship enjoys. The General Assembly has itself repeatedly called for an end to this impunity.

The argument that the establishment of such an inquiry should not go ahead at the present time because of ‘elections’ due in Burma later this year is flawed legally, politically and morally.

Whether or not elections are taking place in Burma, the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry is related to international law and ending impunity in Burma. It is a question of international law and justice, and should not be a political decision.

Even if it were a decision to be made on a tactical political basis, which would go against accepted good legal practice anywhere in the world, the prospect of elections gives no hope for any significant change in terms of Burma’s political and human rights situation, and no government expects any immediate significant change.

None of the requests the General Assembly has made regarding making the dictatorship’s roadmap, elections and constitution fair and credible have been met. And the General Assembly in its 2009 resolution left no doubt on the matter, stating that the human rights situation in Burma is deteriorating, and will continue to do so unless international demands to the dictatorship, including investigations into abuses and an end to impunity, are met. They haven’t been. Nor can they be once elections have taken place.

Following elections, it becomes impossible for any investigation to take place in Burma, so the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry is the only way that war crimes committed by the dictatorship can be investigated, as the General Assembly has said must happen seventeen times since 1997.

The new constitution of Burma, which is due to come into force after the elections, has a clause granting anyone from the dictatorship and government immunity from prosecution for ‘…any act done in the execution of their respective duties.’

In direct defiance of repeated UN General Assembly resolutions for investigations and an end to impunity, Article 445 of the Constitution states:

‘All policy guidelines, laws, regulations, notifications and declarations of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and Development Council, or actions, rights and responsibilities of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and Development Council shall devolve to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. No proceeding shall be instituted against the said councils or any member thereof or any member of the Government, in respect of any act done in the execution of their respective duties.’

If the repeated demands of the UN General Assembly regarding investigations and an end to impunity are ever to be realised, they will have to come from the General Assembly itself establishing a Commission of Inquiry.

When previous UN General Assembly resolutions on Burma are viewed in detail, it becomes clear that the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the General Assembly would not be the dramatic step it is perceived to be by some governments and observers.

A brief summary of United Nations General Assembly resolutions relating to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity

The 1991 General Assembly Resolution:

In its first Resolution in 1991 the General Assembly referred to ‘substantive available information indicating the grave human rights situation in Myanmar.’

The 1992 General Assembly Resolution:

In the second Resolution passed on 18th December 1992, almost 18 years ago, the General Assembly first called on the dictatorship to respect international law. Paragraph 10 of the Resolution: ‘Also calls upon the Government of Myanmar to respect fully the obligations under the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949, in particular the obligations under article 3 common to the conventions and to make use of such services as may be offered by impartial humanitarian bodies.’

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions specifically refers to conflict not of an international nature, and includes treatment of non-combatants as well as those engaged in military actions.

The General Assembly detailed some of the abuses taking place; ‘…torture and arbitrary execution, continued detention of a large number of persons for political reasons, the existence of important restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms and the imposition of oppressive measures directed in particular at ethnic and religious minorities.’ It also stated that; ‘the human rights situation in Myanmar has resulted in massive flows of refugees to neighbouring countries.’

In areas of conflict some of these abuses qualify as war crimes.

Arbitrary execution, if widespread and systematic, was later defined by the Rome Statute, which came into force in 2002 as a possible crime against humanity.

Persecution of an identifiable group of the basis of ethnicity or religion can also be a crime against humanity.

Torture can also qualify as a crime against humanity.

In summary, the 1992 General Assembly resolution in Burma made reference to two possible war crimes and four possible crimes against humanity.

The 1993 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1993 the General Assembly again described the abuses in its 1992 Resolution, but this time also included reference to ‘abuse of women’, ‘enforced disappearances’ and ‘forced labour’.

This brings to seven the number of possible abuses referred to by the General Assembly which could constitute crimes against humanity.

The 1994 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1994 the General Assembly again referred to the abuses which are now classified as possible crimes against humanity, and again called on the dictatorship to respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

The General Assembly also expressed its concern about an attack the Burmese Army made on a refugee camp in Thailand in 1994. Such an attack could also be classified as a war crime.

The 1995 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1995 the General Assembly again referred to the abuses which are now classified as possible crimes against humanity, and again called on the dictatorship to respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Specific reference was made to: ‘..the attacks by Myanmar Army soldiers on the Karens and Karennis during the past year, resulting in further refugee flows to a neighbouring country.’

The 1996 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1996 the General Assembly again referred to the abuses which are now classified as possible crimes against humanity. However, it went further than previous Resolutions in relations to calling on the dictatorship to respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. It called on the dictatorship to: ‘…halt the use of weapons against the civilian population, to protect all civilians, including children, women and persons belonging to ethnic or religious minorities, from violations of humanitarian law…’

Specifically using language regarding use of weapons against civilians amounts to describing a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

The 1997 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1997 the General Assembly repeated the language on human rights abuses and the Geneva Convention in the previous year’s Resolution, but in addition referred to forced labour and abuse of children by government agents.

In this resolution for the first time the General Assembly called for an investigation into the abuses taking place, and end to impunity: ‘Also strongly urges the Government of Myanmar…to fulfil its obligation to end the impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations, including members of the military, and to investigate and prosecute alleged violations committed by government agents in all circumstances.’

The 1998 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1998 the General Assembly repeated the language on human rights abuses, abiding by the Geneva Conventions and on an investigation into abuses.  In addition, it referred to the International Labour Organisation Commission of Inquiry into forced labour, and how it: ‘indicates a widespread and systematic use of forced labour imposed by the military on the civilian population.’ For an abuse to qualify as a crime against humanity it has to be widespread and systematic. This is the first occasion the General Assembly used this language.

The 1999 General Assembly Resolution:

The 1999 General Assembly Resolution repeated the language of the 1998 Resolution with regards to abuses, international law and calls for an investigation.

The 2000 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2000 General Assembly Resolution repeated the language of the 1999 Resolution with regards to abuses, international law and calls for an investigation.

However, it went further in using stronger language, and referring to new abuses which could constitute possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Enforced displacement was referred to as systematic for the first time, which carries legal significance.

Trafficking was also referred to for the first time, which in certain circumstances could constitute a crime against humanity.

The use of child soldiers was also referred to, with the Resolution stating it: ‘Deplores the recruitment of children as soldiers, in particular children belonging to ethnic minorities, and strongly urges the government of Myanmar and all other parties to the hostilities in Myanmar to end the abuses of children as soldiers.’

The 2001 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2001 General Assembly Resolution generally repeated language in previous resolutions.

The 2002 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2002 General Assembly Resolution generally repeated language in previous resolutions.

However, it also called on the dictatorship to; ‘…ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance and to guarantee that it does reach the most vulnerable groups of the population.’ Blocking humanitarian assistance could qualify as a crime against humanity as an inhumane act intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

By the time of the 2002 Resolution, passed on 18th December, the Rome Statute had come into force. By now in 12 separate Resolutions the General Assembly had either referred to or called for action on matters that could constitute nine possible crimes against humanity and five possible war crimes.

Under the Rome Statute these possible crimes cannot be investigated if they took place before July 2002. However, in this Resolution the General Assembly:

‘Expresses its grave concern at:

(a)  The ongoing (bold our emphasis) systematic violation of the human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, of the people of Myanmar

(b)  Extrajudicial killings; rapes and other forms of sexual violence carried out by the members of the armed forces; torture; renewed instances of political arrests and continuing detentions, including of prisoners who have served their sentences; forced relocation; destruction of livelihoods; forced labour; denial of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement; discrimination on the basis of religious or ethnic background; wide disrespect for the rule of law and lack of independence of the judiciary; deeply unsatisfactory conditions of detention; systematic use of child soldiers; and violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, in particular food and medical care, and to education;’

Here, five months after the Rome Statute has come into force, the General Assembly describes ten possible crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute.

For the first time the General Assembly called on the dictatorship: ‘to facilitate and cooperate fully with an independent international investigation of charges of rape and other abuse of civilians carried out by members of the armed forces in Shan and other states.’

The 2003 General Assembly Resolution:

Again used similar language to previous Resolutions regarding abuses taking place, but additionally calls for an independent investigation with international cooperation into the Depayin incident. This incident was an attack by a pro-dictatorship political militia on a convoy that Aung San Suu Kyi was travelling in. Many of her supporters were beaten to death.

The 2004 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2004 General Assembly Resolution repeated previous language, but also described enforced displacement as ‘systematic’, language which has legal significance.

The 2005 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2005 General Assembly Resolution repeated previous language, including for investigations into abuses, but additionally specifically called on the dictatorship: ‘To ensure that government forces do not engage in food and land requisition or the destruction of villages.’ Additional language on unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance was added which specifically referred to international law and international humanitarian law.

The 2006 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2006 General Assembly Resolution repeated previous language, but included new and stronger language, repeatedly describing abuses as systematic or widespread.  Attacks on villages in Karen State were specifically referred to.

In addition, language regarding impunity and investigations was expanded and strengthened:

(e) To end impunity, and to this end:

–  To investigate and bring to justice any perpetrators of human rights violations, including members of the military and other government agents in all circumstances;

– To facilitate a genuinely independent investigation of continuing reports of sexual violence, in particular against women belonging to ethnic nationalities, and other abuse of civilians carried out by members of the armed forces in Shan, Karen, Mon and other States;

– To facilitate a genuinely independent investigation into the attack perpetrated near Depayin on 30th May 2003;’

The 2007 General Assembly Resolution:

Similar language to previous Resolutions used again, and much stronger language on international law. The Resolution expressed grave concern at:

‘The major and repeated violations of international humanitarian law committed against civilians, as denounced by the International Committee of the Red Cross in June 2007;’

It also called on the dictatorship to: ‘Put an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use if child soldiers, in violation of international law, by all parties, to intensify measures to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict…’

Specific reference to the targeting of civilians in military operations was also made:

To take urgent measures to put an end to the military operations targeting civilians in ethnic areas, and to the associated violations of human rights and humanitarian law….

The wording of the 2007 Resolution builds on and takes forward previous resolutions in relation to the dictatorship’s obligations under international law. Abuses are increasingly described in the context of international law, and specific reference is being made to that law being broken. The General Assembly is clearly moving closer to viewing the situation in Burma in the context of international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, even though it does not actually use those words.

The 2008 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2008 General Assembly Resolution again increased specific language relating to international law, calling on the dictatorship:

‘To take urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the targeting of civilian by military operations, rape and other forms of sexual violence persistently carried out by members of the armed forces, and the targeting of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups;’

Here for the first time the General Assembly specifically state that there are violations of international human rights law, and then goes on to list some of those violations.

Again the General Assembly calls for abuses to be investigated. This time the General Assembly calls on the dictatorship: ‘To allow a full, transparent effective impartial and independent investigation, primarily by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar…’

The 2009 General Assembly Resolution:

The last Resolution on Burma from the General Assembly again repeated much from previous resolutions, describing abuses which could meet the criteria of war crimes and crimes against humanity, using language relating to these as systematic, and referring to international law.  The General Assembly also repeated its call for abuses to be investigated.

The Resolution also raised concerns about the new constitution of Burma which is due to come into force after the elections expected before the end of 2010:

‘Calls upon the Government of Myanmar to undertake a transparent and comprehensive review of compliance of the Constitution and all national legislation with international human rights law…’

The Resolution reaffirmed previous Resolutions and stated that the General Assembly was:

‘Deeply concerned that the urgent calls contained in the above mentioned resolutions, as well as statements of other United Nations bodies concerning the situation of human rights in Myanmar, have not been met, and emphasising that, without significant progress towards meetings these calls of the international community, the situation of human rights in Myanmar will continue to deteriorate.’

In its last Resolution on Burma:

The General Assembly is clearly stating that the human rights situation in Burma is deteriorating, and will continue to do so unless international demands are met.

The General Assembly also acknowledges that requests made in eighteen previous General Assembly resolutions have not been met.

The General Assembly continues to describe abuses which could constitute war crimes and crimes and against humanity, specifically using language on international law.

The General Assembly continues to call for independent investigations into abuses taking place. It also says the United Nations should have a role in investigations. By 2009 the General Assembly made a total of seventeen calls for various kinds of investigations.

In the context of this and 18 previous Resolutions, for the General Assembly to establish a Commission of Inquiry is not a major departure from previous positions. It is a comparatively small but logical next step based on previous resolutions.

It is also an essential next step if the credibility and relevance of the resolutions and General Assembly is to be maintained. For the General Assembly to continue to describe and condemn possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, to continue to state that international law is being broken, and continue to call for abuses to be investigated when it is capable of, and indeed has a duty, to establish an investigation itself, is an abrogation of responsibility, and reinforces the sense of impunity with which the dictatorship in Burma operates.

The 20th United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Burma is an opportunity to take the first step towards ending impunity in Burma and seeing the reductions in human rights abuses for which the Assembly has called in vain for 20 years.

………………..

[1] UNGA Resolution 47/144 Situation in Myanmar 17th December 1992, Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 10th March 2010: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A-HRC-13-48.pdf, and, Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 21st September 2006

[2] UNGA Resolutions can be accessed at: http://www.un.org/documents/resga.htm

[3] Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 10th March 2010: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A-HRC-13-48.pdf

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Burma Announces Date of Parliamentary Elections

leave a comment »

Voice of America

Burma Announces Date of Parliamentary Elections

The voting will be the first since 1990

VOA News13 August 2010

Burma’s military government says the country’s long-awaited elections will be held November 7.

The regime made the announcement Friday over state-controlled radio and television outlets.

The November elections will be the first in Burma since 1990, when the opposition National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.  The ruling junta refused to recognize the results.

The NLD refused to register for this year’s elections, because its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is effectively barred from participating in the elections.  The Nobel Peace laureate has been under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years.

At least 40 political parties have registered for the elections, which critics have called a sham designed to keep the ruling military junta in power.  At least seven of the parties standing in the election are aligned with the regime.

The NLD was officially disbanded in May under the current laws, but a group of NLD members have formed a breakaway party to stand in the elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/Burma-Announces-Date-of-Parliamentary-Elections-100604244.html

//

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 13, 2010 at 8:01 am

Posted in Varieties in English

Tagged with , , , ,

Challenge impunity in Myanmar

leave a comment »

Opinion

Challenge impunity in Myanmar

Yozo Yokota, Tokyo | Tue, 07/06/2010 9:07 AM | Opinion

Last month, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, told the United Nations that Myanmar’s ruling military junta may be committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and that these international crimes should be investigated. I agree.

The past three years have drawn the world’s attention to the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Myanmar as never before.  Now Myanmar’s dictator Than Shwe is hoping the world has a short memory; he plans a façade of an election later this year, to put sheen of legitimacy on dictatorial rule.

The courageous protests led by Buddhist monks in September 2007, and the regime’s shocking crackdown, including the killing of Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai, exposed more clearly than ever before the regime’s cruelty.

Eight months later, Cyclone Nargis ripped through the country, leaving death and devastation in its wake, and the regime’s initial refusal to accept international aid workers evidenced its inhumanity.

The continuing military offensives against civilians in ethnic areas, particularly in eastern Myanmar, the assassination of at least one prominent ethnic leader and attempts on the lives of others and a callous disregard for a famine in Chin State all expose once again the regime’s agenda of ethnic cleansing.

As the regime prepares to hold elections this year, the world must remember the backdrop of the past three years. Last year, a report was published by Harvard Law School called Crimes in Myanmar.

Commissioned by some of the world’s leading jurists, including Judge Patricia Wald (US), Hon. Ganzorig Gombosuren (Mongolia), Sir Geoffrey Nice QC (UK), Judge Richard Goldstone (South Africa), and Judge Pedro Nikken (Venezuela), the report concludes that the regime’s violations of human rights may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and that these should be investigated by the United Nations. As a former UN special rapporteur, I agree.

During my period as UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, I received incontrovertible evidence that forced labor, the forcible conscription of child soldiers; torture and rape as a weapon of war are widespread and systematic in Myanmar. Since that time, the evidence has grown stronger. It is claimed by the Thailand-Myanmar Border Consortium that as many as 3,500 villages have been destroyed in eastern Myanmar since 1996. Villagers have been used as human minesweepers, forced to walk through fields of landmines to clear them for the military, often resulting in loss of their limbs and sometimes their lives in the process.

I visited prisons and heard many testimonies of cruel forms of torture. Today, over 2,100 political prisoners are believed to be in Myanmar’s jails, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s democracy leader, remains under house arrest. She has spent over 14 of the past 20 years in detention.

Religious persecution is widespread. The regime is intolerant of non-Myanmarese ethnic minorities and non-Buddhist religious minorities. The predominantly Christian Chin and Kachin peoples, as well as the partly Christian Karen and Karenni, face discrimination, restriction and persecution, including the destruction of churches and crosses. Christians have been forced to tear down crosses and built Buddhist pagodas in their place, at gunpoint. The Muslim Rohingyas face similar persecution, and are denied citizenship in the country despite living in Myanmar’s northern Arakan state for generations. As a result they face unbearable restrictions on movement and marriage, and have almost no access to education and health care.

The United Nations has been documenting these crimes for many years. My fellow former rapporteur, Rajsoomah Lallah, concluded as long ago as 1996 that these abuses were “the result of policy at the highest level, entailing political and legal responsibility.” A recent General Assembly resolution urged the regime to “put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law”. The UN has placed Myanmar on a monitoring list for genocide, while the Genocide Risk Index lists Myanmar as one of the two top “red alert” countries for genocide, along with Sudan.

Non-Governmental Organizations have made similar assessments. Amnesty International described the violations in eastern Myanmar as crimes against humanity, while the Minority Rights Group ranks Myanmar as one of the top five countries where ethnic minorities are under threat. Freedom House describes Myanmar as “the worst of the worst”.

Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice draw similar conclusions.  With “elections” looming and an increase in crimes against humanity already prevalent in Than Shwe’s attempt to end all ethnic minority resistance to his rule, now is the time for concerted international action before more lives are lost.

Impunity prevails in Myanmar and no action has been taken to bring an end to these crimes. That is why we believe the United Nations has an obligation to respond to the current rapporteur’s recommendation and establish a commission of inquiry, to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity and propose action. The UN Security Council should also impose a universal arms embargo on Myanmar’s regime. The regime has been allowed to get away with these crimes for too long. The climate of impunity should not be allowed to continue unchallenged.

The writer was UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar from 1992 to 1996 and a member of the UN Sub–Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 2000-2009.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/07/06/challenge-impunity-myanmar.html

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Burma’s Nuclear Mystery

leave a comment »

A mysterious silence surrounds the Obama administration’s failure to disclose the extent of Burma’s nuclear threat as required under US law

Burma’s Nuclear Mystery

By Scott Johnson  Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Allegations of Burma’s nuclear ambitions hit the newswires on June 3rd with a report by a former U.N. nuclear expert claiming the military regime is seeking to develop an atomic bomb.

Commissioned by the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), the report clearly raised the stakes about this newest threat to international security and peace, which previously had been recognized only within intelligence circles and Burma’s pro-democracy movement. In response, US Senator Jim Webb even cancelled his planned trip to the Burmese capital where he was due to meet the generals in charge. Thus it’s clear the nuclear allegations are serious and yet there has long been a deafening silence about Burma’s nuclear ambitions.

In 2008 an Act of Congress was promulgated in the United States requiring the US State Department to disclose findings on Burma’s nuclear capabilities. The initial date for this mandatory annual disclosure was January 2009, and at this stage there should have been two such reports. To date, though, the Administration has been silent. The law in question is the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008. Its intent is to promote human rights, and it includes sanctions and embargoes on such things as halting gemstone profits to Burma’s repressive dictatorship. The law also includes measures supporting democratic reforms and humanitarian needs for the people of Burma.

More specifically, however, in Section 10 of the Act there is a requirement that the State Department publicly report to Congress about Burma’ military programs and suppliers, including their “weapons of mass destruction and related materials, capabilities, and technology, including nuclear, chemical, or dual use capabilities.” This requirement extends to the ominous task of listing the countries that provide such aid to Burma and that such be reported by none other than the US Secretary of State.

Yet it’s as if the JADE Act never existed. All is silent from Secretary Clinton, President Obama, the State Department, Congress and most everyone else in Washington. Those concerned with US law and nuclear proliferation have seemingly gone into hibernation.

Well, not all however, there are some pro-democracy groups – “Dictator Watch” for one, that has been publishing evidence of Burma’s nuclear ambitions for years. Their latest move was in April 2010, months before the DVB report was released, when they filed a freedom of information act application (FOIA) to the US State Department. The application specifically demanded why Section 10 of the JADE Act is being ignored.

I spoke to Roland Watson, the director of Dictator Watch, about this action and he provided a chilling description of Burma’s nuclear ambition. He also congratulated the Democratic Voice of Burma for getting their report in the public eye, for he believes Burma’s nuclear proliferation has been ignored far too long. He believes international action is needed to curtail Burma’s plans as it poses a multiple threat to international security. The regime is not only trying to acquire nuclear weapons; there is good evidence that it is selling refined uranium (yellow cake) to North Korea and perhaps even Iran. Watson’s organisation has conducted extensive research on the Burma nuclear issue, and has accumulated intelligence from ten different sources. These include Burmese military defectors who were trained in Russia on nuclear and related military technologies. The key to unlock the mysterious silence on the JADE Act is intricately linked to Burma’s dealings with North Korea, Russia, China and Iran.

Watson states that the Burmese military rulers first expressed an interest in becoming a nuclear power in the 1960s but that things escalated in 2001 when the regime, then under the dubious name SLORC, “struck a deal with Russia to buy a reactor.” The Burmese regime, now called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), was due in 2010 to have already completed this reactor. Hard evidence of this is lacking, though, but the deal with Moscow has long been public and ever since the SPDC has been sending military officers to Russia for training. The SPDC refers to this training as their State Scholar Program and Watson reports they have “sent anywhere from 3000 to 5000 officers to Russia, where they’ve been studying sciences related to tunnelling, aviation, ships, missiles, and all sorts of military related technologies.” These studies include nuclear sciences.

Dictator Watch has had access to information from two defectors of the SPDC’s State Scholar Program who had exposure to the nuclear program. These defectors reported that the SPDC is pursuing uranium enrichment, and also that it has acquired equipment for “plutonium activation,” from North Korea. The two sources of fissionable material for an atomic weapon are highly enriched uranium, and plutonium that is produced as a reactor by-product. It appears that Burma is following both tracks towards developing a bomb.

Watson provided a summary of Burma’s nuclear evidence. “First, Burma has uranium deposits and they have long admitted it themselves.” The SPDC in fact published such on their own Ministry of Energy website, identifying numerous sites. He reiterated that not only have commercially viable uranium deposits been found and are being mined, but that they are “being milled into yellow cake and offered for sale on the black market to anybody willing to pay the price.” Indeed, Watson said “Dictator Watch has information about such sale attempts.”

The international customers for Burma’s yellow cake include North Korea and some intelligence sources suggest Iran as well. It is believed that the large quantity of yellow cake that Iran purchased from South Africa in the 1970s has run out. Iran’s enrichment program is substantial, and growing, and Tehran clearly needs to secure new uranium supplies.

Burma’s links to Iran and North Korea are extremely troubling, and it was in 2009 that a publicized incident occurred between the US Navy and a North Korean vessel – a known weapons carrier called the Kang Nam I. This North Korean ship was reportedly carrying advanced weaponry (possibly nuclear technology) destined for Burma and a US Destroyer was dispatched to interdict it. The Kang Nam I eventually turned back to North Korea with cargo intact. Watson reports, however, that the ship had already gone to Burma at least once, possibly two times previously and unloaded its cargo at Rangoon – at night. On one of those occasions the Kang Nam I continued on to Iran. In 2008 the United States through diplomatic requests to India also blocked a cargo flight from North Korea from flying to Iran after it stopped in Burma.

It is further believed that the interdicted Kang Nam I shipment from 2009 was successfully delivered to Rangoon port in April 2010.

Dictator Watch has evidence that North Korea has long been selling Burma an array of weaponry, including missiles and nuclear technology. The weapons include Scud missiles (short range ballistic missiles), and the SPDC is reportedly pointing them towards military bases in Thailand.

With all this nuclear and weapons skulduggery going on it’s a wonder why Burma hasn’t been brought before the United Nations Security Council. For Watson the threat is clear, “If you have uranium mining, milling and then bartering of yellow cake to North Korea and Iran you have a significant threat to international security and peace, including divergent rogue trafficking of yellow cake to terrorists.” However, China and Russia are permanent members of the Security Council and have historically protected the SPDC from international repercussions. On Beijing’s role Watson laments, “The Chinese are the godfathers of Kim Jong Ill and Than Shwe and on an issue as big as this they couldn’t work together if China didn’t say ok.”

One thing seems clear, the world does not need another rogue nuclear state, especially one with a human rights record as brutal as Burma’s. As for the long silence on Burma’s nuclear mystery, the DVB report and Senator Webb’s cancelled visit suggest it may be unravelling. The JADE Act has been ignored however, and thus only time will tell if Dictator Watch’s FOIA filing too will be brushed aside.

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/25055

//
//

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 7, 2010 at 3:47 am

Part 2: International Tribunal (Japan) on Crimes against Women of Burma

leave a comment »

Part (2)

Live Broadcast

Video link — (a) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7927783

Video link — (b) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7926784

Source – Burma Campaign (Japan)

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm