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Alternative Asean Network on Burma
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PRESS RELEASES, OPEN LETTERS, STATEMENTS

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma)

Joint press release

A STRONG EU COMMON POSITION IS NEEDED TO PREVENT FURTHER CRIMES IN BURMA

Paris, March 29, 2011 - The recent convening of Burma’s new parliament is merely a façade to hide ongoing serious crimes in Burma. It is essential that the European Union maintain its existing Common Decision on Burma to keep pressure on the Burmese regime. The realities of the post-election scenario do not justify any softening of the current EU position, which is currently under review.

A briefer recently released by FIDH member, Altsean-Burma, showed that high-ranking State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) officials have retained control by orchestrating their appointments to the top political positions in Parliament. Draconian parliamentary rules prevent Members of Parliament from engaging in any form of meaningful debate or discussing parliamentary proceedings. MPs that share information or bring mobile phones to the parliament can be jailed for 2 years. Media coverage has been severely restricted.

“Changing military uniforms for suits and ties does not change the reality of the regime’s ongoing serious crimes. The people of Burma are still under a military dictatorship,” said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen.

“The EU should clearly state that it supports an independent, impartial investigation of serious crimes if there is no significant developments to stop crimes in Burma and address the rights of tens of thousands of victims,” emphasized Ms Belhassen.

In ethnic nationality areas, Burma Army offensives against both ceasefire and non-ceasefire groups have resulted in increased instability and the flight of thousands of civilians into neighboring Thailand. The situation will worsen as the Army prepares to re-launch its inhumane ‘four cuts’ campaign that targets civilian communities with attacks in order to undermine suspected ethnic resistance forces.

On 25 March, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that expressed “serious concern that previous calls to end impunity have not been heeded” by the Burmese regime. This was the 42nd resolution adopted by the UN on Burma since 1991.

The establishment of a UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into war crimes and crimes against humanity is extremely urgent and should become part of the EU’s Burma policy. The creation of a CoI would hold the regime accountable for human rights abuses under international law. It would also deter future violations, promote respect for the rule of law, and obtain justice for the victims of these crimes.

“The military regime continues to commit crimes, assuming that a serious investigation will never occur. The EU should prove its abhorrence to impunity and send a strong message to the regime by expressing in-principle support for a CoI” said Altsean-Burma Coordinator Debbie Stothard. Ms Stothard, who is also FIDH Deputy Secretary-General, warned that without a strong EU position, the situation was likely to deteriorate in Burma.

ENDS

The briefer “Burma 2011: Still a military dictatorship” is available here

Press contacts: Karine Appy/Arthur Manet : + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 90 19