On 12 April 2011, European Union Member States will renew the European policy on Burma.
ALTSEAN Burma, the International Federation for Human Rights, Info Birmanie and the French League for Human Rights are deeply concerned by the continued failure of the European Union to publicly support a UN Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into credible and serious allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. The establishment of a CoI must be included in the Council Conclusions.
On 7 March 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, presented his report to the Human Rights Council, calling for the third time for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr Quintana warned that “failing to act on accountability in Myanmar will embolden the perpetrators of international crimes and further postpone overdue justice.” He further emphasized that the responsibility to adopt justice and accountability measures “falls to the international community if the Government fails to do so.”
A CoI is needed now more than ever as many of same people who have overseen widespread and systematic human rights violations in the past decades continue to rule Burma in the disguise of a ‘civilian’ government. Serious crimes continue to be perpetrated and documented since the sham elections of November 2010. More than 2,100 political prisoners continue to languish behind bars, many in harsh conditions without access to adequate medical care. Civilians in ethnic nationality areas face an increasing risk of persecution as the regime prepares to renew its infamous ‘four cuts’ campaign.
The failure of the European Union to publicly support a CoI in effect encourages the Burmese regime to continue to believe it can act with impunity while key members of the international community continue to waver in their support for justice and accountability in Burma. We believe that the establishment of a CoI will facilitate truth-seeking for victims of serious international crimes, deter future violations, promote respect for the rule of law and serve as a basis for genuine dialogue and national reconciliation in Burma.
In 2010, the Government of France, pointing out that human rights “are still systematically violated,” supported the creation of a CoI and urged the Burmese government to fully cooperate with such a body. Therefore, we strongly urge the French government, as a key member of the EU, to step up its support and rally the European Union to join a growing international consensus for the creation of a CoI to investigate serious international crimes in Burma.
16 countries have already supported a CoI, including 12 European countries. The European Union must now endorse the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma and express public support for the creation of a CoI with a mandate to investigate numerous allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. This would send a strong signal to the Burmese regime that justice and accountability can no longer be denied or delayed. Without a truth seeking process, there can be no national reconciliation in Burma.
Failure to support justice and accountability for the people of Burma would greatly damage the credibility of the European Union and its Member States.
We sincerely hope you will take our concerns and recommendations into consideration.
Founder and Director