UNHRC urges establishment of ‘Commission of Inquiry’ on Burma
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UNHRC urges establishment of ‘Commission of Inquiry’ on Burma

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Myanmar (Burma) was under discussion on 8 June at the 17th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council conference that runs in Geneva, Switzerland, from 30 May to 17 June. The Myanmar delegation led by Union attorney general Dr Tun Shin and Charge d’Affaires aide Ambassador to Myanmar Office U Ye Myint Aung attended it, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported today.

The newspaper also said that Union attorney general discussed human rights situations in Myanmar and presented the Myanmar government’s stance over the remaining 46 suggestions of world countries. Suggestions are yet to be assessed over human rights situations in the country at the UPR meeting held in January 2011.

Representatives of the 11 countries presented their opinions and expressed their support to the review for approval. In his speech, the Myanmar delegation leader thanked the countries for their discussions. He said that the Myanmar government had taken office for only 69 days but it is implementing tasks both theoretically and practically for promotion and protection of human rights with great interest.

Dr Tun Shin also said that his country has taken heed of cooperation with international communities like the UN. He also added that Myanmar (Burma) has been enjoying development, so it called for lifting of the west’s economic sanctions against the nation at the ASEAN meeting on 16 January 2011. For that reason it was time for the international community to lift the economic sanctions in recognition of positive changes in Myanmar, The New Light of Myanmar said.

But, the paper’s report seems to be a preconception. It is a direct contradiction to the facts on the ground.  During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Burma last January, the Burmese delegation unreasonably denied all charges of organized human rights abuses against civilians especially in ethnic areas. Myanmar government representatives dismissed the accusations as “baseless and merely aimed at discrediting the Burmese Armed Forces.”

But the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Tomas Ojea Quintana said that alleged crimes committed by the Myanmar government military may amount to Crimes Against Humanity and called for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry.

The Burma Forum (UPR) yesterday delivered oral statements at the plenary session of the Universal Periodic Review on Burma. During the plenary session final recommendations on Burma (Myanmar) were adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. Burma underwent a review of its human rights record for the past four years in late January for the first time.

Speaking on behalf of the 14 Burmese rights organizations before the Council, Aung Myo Min said: “The practice of forced labour continues as up to two million men, women and children are forced to work for the armed forces, on development projects or in infrastructure expansion without compensation. In some cases, those using the ILO complaints mechanism face intimidation, arrest and imprisonment. Given that the practice of forced labour continues, it is significantly regrettable that the State chose to reject the UPR recommendation to “review the legislation and practices in accordance with ILO Convention No. 29 and extend the ILO mandate to the overall territory of Myanmar”.

Finally he said, With no domestic mechanism available inside the country to effectively and impartially establish justice and accountability, failure to independently investigate those widespread and systematic violations of human rights will only make further abuses inevitable. Therefore, we strongly urge this Council to act swiftly to establish a UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry to look into the violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the country.”

In the Burma Forum on Universal Periodic Review there were 14 Burmese rights organizations – namely Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPP-B), Arakan Rivers Network (ARN), Burma Fund UN Office, Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC), Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), Emergency Act Team vs Backpack Health Worker Team, Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB), Foundation for Education and Development (FED), Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), Human Rights Foundation of Mon Land (HURFOM), Kachin Women’s Organization Thailand (KWAT), Kaladan Press Bangladesh, Shwe Gas Movement, and Women and Child Rights Project (WCRP).