Philippine government urged to support probe on Myanmar junta’s ‘crimes against humanity’


PHILIPPINES–To visualize the gravity of the crimes against humanity committed by Burma’s military regime, about a hundred of solidarity activists under the Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Phils) today held a rally in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and urged the Philippine government to pledge its support to the ongoing international campaigns calling for the creation of a UN commission of inquiry to investigate possible crimes against humanity in Burma.

Said rally is also part of the international commemoration of the 22nd Anniversary of the August 08, 1988 national uprising in Burma where 10,000 peaceful demonstrators were shot, arrested and killed as they demanded democracy and an end to human rights violations and economic mismanagement by the Burmese military junta.

Present during the rally were the Amnesty International (AI), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) and other individual supporters.

“With these continuing political repression and grave violations of human rights in Burma, how could we ensure the credibility and democratic integrity of Burma’s 2010 elections? The peoples of Burma need genuine democratic reforms but the ruling junta is simply unable and unwilling to fulfill its promised reforms,” said Egoy Bans, spokesperson of the FBC-Phils.

“Unless the junta institute tangible political reforms including the release of all political prisoners, all-inclusive review of the 2008 Nargis-constitution and cessation of hostilities against ethnic nationalities in Burma, this planned election will be perceived as a move only to legitimize the military junta’s hold to power,” Bans added.

FBC-Phils urged the Philippine government to lead the ASEAN in applying pressures to the military government of Burma to initiate immediate political reforms and through the Asean Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to effectively protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the peoples of Burma such as the Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Assembly and Association.

The group cited ‘the use of child soldiers, the destruction of villages and the displacement of ethnic minorities, the use of rape as a weapon of war, extrajudicial killings, torture, forced relocation, and forced labour as among the crimes committed by the junta against the peoples of Burma.

To dramatize further the extent of rights abuses in Burma, FBC-Phils also staged a “parade of the victims” in front of the DFA office. “These rights violations happen on a regular basis in Burma. The UN must look into this consistent pattern of abuses and must seek an end to this,” Bans stressed.

A Commission of Inquiry could be an initial step towards ending the reign of impunity in Burma and deterring the regime’s future perpetration of widespread and systematic human rights abuses against the peoples of Burma, the group concluded. It will be remembered that UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Quintana, had called for such a commission when he reported to the UN Human Rights Council in March after a visit to Myanmar a month earlier.

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