Monday, November 30, 2009

Parliamentarians from South and Southeast Asia Call for Free and Fair Elections in Burma

Parliamentarians from South and Southeast Asian nations met on Friday, November 27, 2009 in New Delhi for a meeting of the Parliamentarians' Solidarity for the Struggle of Democracy in Burma. Those at the meeting acknowledged the systematic human rights abuses in Burma, including attacks on ethnic groups, and expressed concern that unfair elections in 2010 would only cement brutal leaders in power. Representatives from regional nations called on fellow leaders in South and Southeast Asia to urge the government of Burma to release all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, cease attacks on ethnic groups, and foster genuine democratization in the country. Specifically, the parliamentarians called for substantial review of the flawed 2008 Constitution and cooperation from the international community in ensuring that the upcoming elections are indeed free and fair. The parliamentarians stated that elections based on a constitution that only serves to perpetuate the military regime will not lead to real democratic change.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Article on BLC's participation in ICC Assembly of State Parties in the Hague - from The Irrawaddy

Junta Crimes to be Raised in the Hague
By Arkar Moe

The Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC) is attending a Nov 18-26 meeting of the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to discuss the Burmese military government's alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes and other human rights abuses.

BLC General Secretary Aung Htoo, who is based in exile, has been attending the meetings in the Netherlands as an NGO delegate from Burma for the first time.

According to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) web site, the grouping will discuss "ICC Campaigns in Asia: Prospects and Challenges in Afghanistan, Burma and Indonesia" on Nov. 25.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, Thein Oo, the chairman of the BLC, said, “We intend to cooperate with International Criminal Court and to create a network to take more action against the Burmese military junta. Moreover, we intend to share our experience of the junta’s abuses and crimes, and discuss how we can cooperate to establish a regional network.”

He added: “We expect the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) to cooperate among state parties and put more pressure on the Burmese junta through the UN and the ICC. We especially want to lobby harder because representatives of China and other world powers will be attending."

The CICC is a network of over 2,500 nongovernment organizations which work closely with the ICC.

“Actually, we all need to practice alternative approaches to the Burmese military junta and pave ways for preventive actions,” Thein Oo said.

The director of Thailand-based rights group Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, Aung Myo Min, told The Irrawaddy on Monday: “It’s very hard to put the issue of the Burmese junta's crimes against humanity to the ICC because Burma is not yet a signatory to the ICC. But, the UN Security Council can take the junta to task about its deplorable humna rights record. The Burmese regime has commited many crimes such as the conscription of child soldiers and the systematic rape of ethnic women which should be put before the ICC.”

The Burmese military authorities issued Order 1/2009 in April, blacklisting the BLC as an unlawful association. This order came alongside a campaign of defamation in the Burmese state-run press, which denounced the BLC as an “enemy of the state,” and accusing BLC members, in particular those working with the ICC, of “violating the rule of law of Burma.”

The ICC was established in 2002 as a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes which have been committed or are being committed if a given state’s judicial system is unable or unwilling to investigate and take legal action to ensure justice.

In July, the CICC called on the Security Council to press for the surrender and trial of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and others wanted for serious crimes committed in Darfur.

Junta Crimes To be Raised in the Hague (the Irawaddy)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

FIDH Press Release Regarding Recent UN General Assembly Resolution on Burma

Burma: UN General Assembly Resolution: Time for Concrete Action

Paris - New York, November 20 2009 : The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN -Burma) and Burma Lawyer’s Council (BLC) welcome the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar/Burma. The resolution "strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" of the people of Burma and calls on the military regime "to take urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."

The resolution was adopted by the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights, with a record of 92 member States voting in favor and 26 member States voting against. FIDH notes with concern that ASEAN states, by abstaining or voting against the resolution, once again demonstrated their tolerance of impunity. The UN body expresses its grave concern over the recent trial and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and the current imprisonment of more that 2,000 political prisoners, as well as the restrictions imposed by the junta to rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Moreover, the resolution "expresses grave concern at the continuing practice of arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and strongly calls upon the Government of Myanmar to allow a full, transparent, effective, impartial and independent investigation into all reports of human rights violations, and to bring to justice those responsible in order to end impunity for such crimes".

FIDH, ALTSEAN - Burma and BLC organized a series of meetings in New York to advocate for the adoption of a resolution addressing the serious allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the armed forces of the junta and the crucial issue of impunity.1 The UN General Assembly indeed requested that the Burmese military regime "take urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the targeting of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups, the targeting of civilians by military operations, and rape and other forms of sexual violence, and to end impunity for such acts".

FIDH, ALTSEAN - Burma and BLC call once again on the international community to address the crucial issues of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the eastern part of the country. An international commission of inquiry is necessary in order to investigate these serious allegations and to contribute toward peace and democracy in Burma by putting an end to persistent and institutionalized impunity. Our Organizations firmly believe that it is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to address the specific instances of these crimes occurring in Burma as part of its responsibility to ensure the protection of civilians, women and children in armed conflicts.

See press release at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Global Justice Center and Burma Lawyers' Council Argue International Crisis Group's Support for 2010 Elections Violates International Law

The Global Justice Center (GJC) and the Burma Lawyers' Council (BLC) sent a letter to the International Crisis Group (ICG) expressing concern over the ICG's support for Burma's 2010 elections.

The ICG published a report in August 2009 that calls on states and the United Nations to support Burma's 2008 constitution and the 2010 elections. The 2008 constitution calls for blanket amnesties for SPDC crimes, in direct opposition to jus cogens norms and states' obligations under the Geneva Conventions. The constitution also violates Security Council Resolution 1820, which prohibits amnesties for violence against women in conflict. The ICG report also overlooks the fact that states have legal obligations to prosecute and punish war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity - obligations that are obstructed by the ICG's recommendation that states support the constitution and the elections, which will solidify systematic impunity for perpetrators of heinous crimes.

Link to the full text of the letter in column at right.