Friday, October 30, 2009

TBBC compares situation in Eastern Burma to Darfur

The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) reported an increase in military attacks in Eastern Burma. The group expects abuses on civilians to continue to increase in the months approaching the 2010 elections. While the SPDC has perpetrated many crimes against humanity, the TBBC states that evidence of forced displacement is the single strongest indicator that these crimes are indeed occurring in Karen and Shan states.

TBBC notes that the scale of forced displacement in Eastern Burma is comparable to that in Darfur, an area of Sudan suffering from rampant human rights abuses.

The United Nations Security Council referred Sudan to the International Criminal Court after a commission of inquiry confirmed that the Sudanese government was committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The unfortunate yet striking similarities between the crimes of Eastern Burma and Sudan should persuade the Security Council to establish a commission of inquiry into the conflict in Burma.

See the TBBC press release at

Monday, October 12, 2009

New ICTJ Report on Impunity in Burma

The International Center for Transitional Justice recently released a report, Impunity Prolonged: Burma and its 2008 Constitution, describing the lack of accountability for rampant sexual violence, forced labor, and use of child soldiers in Burma. See the full report at

Join the Burma Lawyers' Council in calling for an international commission of inquiry to investigate crimes in Burma

The SPDC is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity – and getting away with it. Killings, torture, rape, forced relocation, the use of child soldiers, and other international crimes are being committed under a system of total impunity.

Burma’s State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) is refusing to uphold its legal obligations under international human rights law, customary international law, and Security Council Resolutions 1325 (addressing disproportionate impact of conflict on women) and 1820 (addressing sexual violence against civilians). The SPDC has engaged in systematic human rights violations including killings and forced disappearances, rape and other forms of gender-based violence, forced labor and relocation, and other serious violations of international law. These crimes are widespread, and are targeted specifically at civilian populations. Victims have no recourse to justice in Burma. Worse still, article 445 of the 2008 constitution purports to grant amnesty for SPDC leaders for all crimes, further decreasing the hopes of bringing perpetrators to justice.

Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that initiated the International Criminal Court, include the crimes listed above in their definitions of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The International Criminal Court would therefore have jurisdiction over leaders of the SPDC if the United Nations Security Council referred the situation to the Court.

Extensive evidence demonstrates that some leaders of the SPDC - mainly Senior General Than Shwe and his elite military leaders - are committing crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in the Rome Statute under systematic impunity. This evidence is sufficient for the United Nations Security Council to form an international commission of inquiry to investigate these crimes in Burma. If the commission finds evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity, the United Nations Security Council can then refer Burmese leaders to the International Criminal Court. The Burma Lawyers’ Council calls upon the international human rights community to uphold its responsibility to protect civilians in Burma by urging the United Nations Security Council to establish a commission of inquiry.

Interested human rights advocates and organizations should write letters to members of the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Secretary General, urging them to establish a commission of inquiry in Burma.