LONDON – Christian Solidarity Worldwide is urging the European Union to give its support to a U.N. investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma.
The call comes after the United States announced its intention to support the establishment of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry into suspected abuses being committed by Burma's military regime against the Burmese people.
The proposal for an inquiry was made by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, following his visit to the country in February. He warned at the time that human rights violations in Burma may amount to crimes against humanity and in June called on the regime to conform to the principles set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Australia have all expressed their support for a Commission of Inquiry.
In a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday, London-based CSW welcomed the United Kingdom's support and called on the government to press for mention of an inquiry in a U.N. General Assembly resolution on Burma later this year.
CSW's East Asia Team leader, Benedict Rogers, said the backing of the United States would give "significant momentum" to the international campaign to end impunity in Burma.
"The military regime in Burma has one of the worst human rights records in the world, and is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the widespread and systematic use of rape as a weapon of war, forced labor, the forcible recruitment of child soldiers, killings, torture and the destruction of over 3,500 villages in eastern Burma alone," he said.
"The U.N. has spent twenty years urging the regime to end its violations, which it has described in numerous resolutions as violating international humanitarian law," Rogers added.
"It is time now for the U.N. to act, and for the EU, including the United Kingdom, to work closely with the United States to build support in the General Assembly for a Commission of Inquiry."
Last week, CSW called on the international community to reject Burma's election in November, saying the "sham" election would constitute a "whitewash" for the ruling military junta with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi imprisoned and excluded.
Election laws and a new constitution guaranteeing 25 percent of the seats for the military, the human rights group added, would make it "impossible" for the election to be free or fair.
CSW wants to see an arms embargo imposed on Burma in addition to the Commission of Inquiry.
Rogers, meanwhile, called on the generals to enter into meaningful dialogue with Suu Kyi, the democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities living in Burma.