For Immediate Release: 20 August
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
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.”
Enquiries: Debbie Stothard,
Cellphone +6681 686 1652 or Altsean-Burma Tel + 6681 850 9008