LONDON - Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling for “urgent, specific and meaningful action” from the United Nations to address Burma’s ongoing political and humanitarian crisis.
The appeal issued Friday marked 20 years since the bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations on August 8, 1988, in which at least 3,000 civilians were killed, and the deaths of thousands more in further protests in the months that followed.
CSW wants the United Nations to present the Burma regime with a list of demands, including the release of political prisoners before the visit of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the country in December and a universal arms embargo on the regime.
The U.K.-based human rights organization is pressing for key members of the military junta to be brought before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and the EU to impose financial sanctions targeted at the regime’s assets.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have needlessly died as a result of the junta’s military offensives, torture, brutality, and deliberate criminal neglect,” said CSW national director Stuart Windsor.
“We cannot afford to wait another 20 years before the international community acts decisively in response to this political and humanitarian crisis,” he added.
Windsor called on U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to deliver a “tough” message to the military junta when he visits Burma later this month.
“After 35 U.N. envoy visits to Burma, it is time that the U.N. puts aside diplomatic rhetoric and takes urgent, specific and meaningful action,” he said.
“As we pay tribute to those who gave their lives in 1988, let us finally resolve to turn rhetoric into meaningful action.”
Security remained tight on the streets of Burma’s largest city, Rangoon, on Friday with the heavy presence of riot police to stop any new protests breaking out.
The internationally infamous Burma junta is known to persecute ethnic minorities, having wiped out entire villages. Armed military often attack villages of the Karen, Karenni, and Chin people – who are mostly Christians – and systematically rape the women.
The U.S. State Department has labeled Myanmar, the official name of Burma under the junta government, a “country of particular concern” – the worst religious freedom violation label.