Probe crimes against humanity in Burma: Asian NGOs

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Individuals and civil society groups around Asia have called on their governments to support the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma, reports the Burma Partnership.

Thousands of ethnic Karen have fled a Burmese Army military offensive in Karen State, along the Thailand-Burma border - Photo courtesy of democracyforburma.wordpress.com ,

In letters to their respective governments, civil society groups from Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand stressed that “a Commission of Inquiry would be an impartial investigation to establish the truth about serious international crimes in the country”.

The letters also pointed out that Asian countries have a special role to play, stating that as regional states, we “are uniquely placed to encourage positive change in Burma” and that if their country “ignores and conceals the regime’s role in perpetrating human rights violations in Burma, it tacitly sanctions such acts and allows them to continue unabated”.

Meanwhile, more than 200 individuals and civil society representatives sent letters to the Indonesian government. Indonesia is an example of a successful transition to democracy and Indonesia’s former foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, made a public statement expressing the view that Indonesia should play an active role in encouraging genuine democratic reform in Burma. Thus, these individuals argued, Indonesia should take the lead among Asean nations in fostering progressive compliance with the human rights obligations set out in the Asean Charter by supporting the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry for Burma.

“Despite the significant support already expressed for the Commission of Inquiry from inside and outside Burma, Asian governments have remained silent. Being witnesses to the suffering of the people of Burma, it is critical that Asian governments take a public position in support of this commission to help end human rights violations and prevent future violations so that all the people of Burma can live in peace and security,” said Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership.

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The regime in Burma has been trying to win over the international community by organising meetings with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and inviting the UN Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana to visit the country. At the same time the Burma Army continues to perpetrate grave human rights violations against civilians in Burma’s ethnic areas. Observing those crimes, Asian civil society groups reminded their governments of the urgent need for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry for Burma.

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