UNSC urged to investigate junta’s ‘Crime against Humanity’

Thursday, 10 December 2009 22:01

New Delhi (Mizzima) – On International Human Rights Day, 442 Members of Parliament from 29 countries on Thursday urged the United Nations Security Council to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the Burmese military junta’s ‘Crimes against Humanity’.

MPs from Asia, Europe, North and South America in a letter urged the Security Council to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate ‘Crimes against Humanity’ and ‘War Crimes’ committed by Burma’s military rulers and to impose a global arms embargo against the regime.

The letter sent by Japanese MPs Azuma Konno and Tadashi Inuzuka, who are members of the House of Councillors, the National Diet of Japan, and endorsed by 442 MPs across the globe, was addressed to the UNSC’s President Ambassador Michel Kafando, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and members of the Security Council.

The Burmese military regime has been committing widespread and systematic crimes including the killing of thousands of its own civilians and widespread rape of ethnic women, forced displacement of over one million refugees and internally displaced persons, recruiting tens of thousands of child soldiers, and using modern day slave labour, the MPs said in the letter. The MPs said evidence of the Burmese junta’s widespread crimes have been well documented by several groups including various bodies of the United Nations and accused the UNSC of ignoring the plight of the Burmese people saying the silence of the Security Council on these matters is “shocking.”

The MPs, in their letter, quoted a recent report by the Harvard Law School, which was commissioned by five of the world’s leading jurists. The report, which is a compilation of various UN documents, conclude that “there is a prima facie case of international criminal law violations occurring that demands UN Security Council action to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these grave breaches further.”

The jurists that commissioned the report also conclude that violations committed by the Burmese regime “may amount to war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity.”

“Such action is long overdue. Burma’s military regime has carried out brutal attacks on its own people for decades,” the letter said.

The Japanese MPs also quoted another report by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), a humanitarian group providing aid to Burmese refugees and displaced persons along the Thai-Burma border.

The TBBC, in its report released earlier this year, said the junta in their attack against ethnic minorities since 1996 had destroyed over 3,500 ethnic minority villages in eastern Burma, forcing at least 75,000 people to leave their homes during this past year alone, and more than half a million people remain as internally displaced.

The report also said the situation in eastern Burma, where ethnic armed resistance groups such as the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burmese junta’s army are engaging in military conflicts, are “comparable to the situation in Darfur.”

With several UN Special Rapportuers including Brazil’s Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and Japan’s Yozo Yokota acknowledging the crimes committed by the Burmese junta, the MPs said, “We strongly urge you to immediately draft and pass a resolution on these matters.”

“The longer the Council waits, the more people will die in Burma,” the MPs concluded.

While the campaign for the UNSC to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate ‘Crimes against Humanity’ and ‘War Crimes’ committed by the junta gain momentum with MPs across the world joining in, the possibility of the UNSC taking it up as an official agenda still seems to be far off.

Ivan Lewis, British Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, at a Parliamentary debate on Wednesday said the United Kingdom, though its supports the call to UNSC to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate crimes committed by the Burmese junta, it realises that there is not sufficient support at the moment to achieve a resolution.

Lewis said the UK at the moment does not want to table such a motion because if it fails to achieve a desired resolution, it would be “a propaganda victory par excellence for the Burmese regime.”

“The reason why we are being cautious about the commission of inquiry is not that we do not believe that it is right in principle, but that we believe that tabling a resolution that would be voted down would backfire considerably in realpolitik terms,” Lewis said at the Westminster Hall debate chaired by MP Mike Hancock.

In early 2007, a UN Security Council resolution proposed by the United States and supported by France and UK was vetoed by Russia and China, two of the Burmese regime’s closest allies.

Yuki Akimoto of BurmaInfo, Japan, one of the worldwide campaigners lobbying MPs across the globe to support the Burma issue, said Russia and China should realise their action has affected the lives of many Burmese people and that they should not in the future act irresponsibly.

The letter to the UNSC was signed by parliamentarians and congressmen includes MPs from Japan, United States, UK, France, India, Korea, Brazil, Maldives, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand.

Burma, once known as the rice bowl of Southeast Asia, has been ruled by military dictators since 1962 and is ranked by the Heritage Foundation as one of five most repressive economies in the world, by Transparency International UK as the third most corrupt country in the world, and by Reporters Without Borders as one of the worst violators of press freedom.
mizzima

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