For Immediate Release: 20 August 2010
From Altsean Burma:
ASEAN/REGIONAL COUNTRIES URGED TO SUPPORT A UN COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
The Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma), a regional network of human rights groups, reiterates its call for ASEAN members and other governments in the region to support moves to convene a UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.
“It is an embarrassment that ASEAN governments seem less committed about protecting ASEAN citizens from serious international crimes. ASEAN governments shouldn't fear a Commission of Inquiry since it is a fact-finding process, not a tribunal that can send their golfing buddies to jail,” said Altsean-Burma Coordinator Debbie Stothard.
Her remarks were made in the wake of media reports that the US government supported a Commission of Inquiry into serious international crimes in Burma. Australia, the UK, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia had previously called for a Commission of Inquiry after the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana recommended the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry.
In his March report to the UN Human Rights Council, Ojea Quintana said that a pattern of “gross and systematic” human rights violations in Burma had persisted over a period of many years and still continued. He suggested that given the lack of accountability for those abuses, the UN initiate a specific fact-finding mandate to investigate the possibility of international crimes.
The violations that led Ojea Quintana to recommend the convening of a UN Commission of Inquiry persist and are widespread and systematic, with the Burmese junta stepping up military attacks against ethnic civilians in Eastern Burma in recent weeks. The violations are likely to continue since the Burmese junta has guaranteed itself blanket immunity from prosecution and placed itself above the law through the 2008 constitution.
The instability generated by the regime’s serious crimes in Burma continue to have serious repercussions on the entire region in terms of displacement and human and drug trafficking.
ASEAN and other governments in the region have an obligation to maintain regional stability, provide human security to their people, and uphold fundamental human rights.
Altsean-Burma Coordinator, Debbie Stothard said, “Burma’s people need and deserve the protection of ASEAN. Governments in the region have to acknowledge and understand that these are serious international crimes being committed. They can no longer be described as domestic affairs not subject to international scrutiny. A UN Commission of Inquiry must be convened as soon as possible.”
White House: US to support UN inquiry in Myanmar – Associated Press
Why a UN probe of Burma is a crucial step – The Washington Post
US raises Myanmar heat with war crimes panel call – Associated Press