Oral Statment- Human Rights situation in Burma

12/12/2007
Press release

Mr President,

The FIDH and the International Trade Union Confederation conducted a joint mission along the Thai-Burma border mid-October. We met demonstrators and eyewitnesses to the crackdown, as well as representatives of the democracy movement and members of the diplomatic community.

Our conclusion is that the current situation in Burma is unprecedented. The peaceful protests and the violent crackdown have created new dynamics. Eyewitness strongly emphasize that the Saffron revolution is ‘not over’. The future is still unknown, yet the influence of the international community will be crucial.

Our joint report issued today highlights key leverage points to maximize the chances of the SPDC starting a genuine political process out of military rule.

Firstly, the Human Rights Council should build on the Resolution of its Special Session on Burma of October by continuing a thorough investigation of human rights abuses in Burma. The Council should adopt a resolution supporting Mr Pinheiro’s recommendations, including that the military regime grants immediate access by the ICRC to all places of detention, reveal whereabouts of the missing and bring perpetrators to justice. Moreover, the Council could request from the SPDC to accept permanent offices in Rangoon for Mr Gambari’s good offices mission and for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Secondly, the Council should acknowledge that the success of the reconciliation process requires the setting of clear benchmarks for the Burmese regime, and agreeing on a timeline for an effective transition towards democracy and respect for human rights. The Council should express support for a national reconciliation and for the establishment of for a monitoring process.

Finally the Council should urgently call on the international community, including regional organisations and neighbouring countries, to adopt effective sanctions to cut the regime’s economic lifeline. Representatives of the democracy movement stress the links between foreign direct investments and repression. They are adamant: economic sanctions hurt the military regime and crony elites, not the people, who mainly live off agriculture and the informal economy. The adoption by the UN Security Council of a resolution imposing effective, multilateral sanctions is more urgent than ever, and would increase the chances of a genuine implementation of the recommendations of the Human Rights Council. These should target, in particular, the crucial oil and gas sectors, timber, gems, financial services, and an arms embargo.

Only the combination of these steps can provide reasonable chances of a transition out of military rule. The Human Rights Council can, and in our view should, contribute to this. We call upon the Council, in sum, to rise up to its historic responsibility in bringing human rights to Burma.

Thank you for your attention.

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