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Burma’s Grave Human Rights Situation Stands Before the UN’s Review

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Representatives from the Burma Forum on the Universal Periodic Review (BF-UPR), a coalition of fourteen human rights and civil society organizations, are currently in Geneva to raise concerns over the grave human rights situation in Burma ahead of the country’s first Universal Periodic Review on 27 January. The Review comes at a time when Burma is under the international spotlight, due to the recent release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the controversial November elections which were neither free nor fair, and the forthcoming first session of the new Parliament on 31 January.

The Universal Periodic Review – a process under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member States once every four years – shall provide a unique opportunity for the international community to put pressure on the military regime to take concrete and genuine steps to implement legislative and institutional reforms and fully cooperate with the international human rights mechanisms. The BF-UPR held a series of consultations throughout 2010, and made a joint submission to the process last July in order to highlight the widespread and systematic human rights violations in the country, some of which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The joint submission covered thirteen priority areas, and made practical recommendations for member and observer States of the UN Human Rights Council to put to Burma at the UPR Working Group session in Geneva.

The BF-UPR strongly advocates for an UN-led Commission of Inquiry into international crimes, as recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, in his reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. BF-UPR delegate Dr. Thaung Htun said, “repeated UN calls for independent investigations into alleged gross human rights violations have been met with absolute incompliance by the ruling authorities in Burma. It is the responsibility of the international community to establish an UN-led Commission of Inquiry to expose the truth and ensure measures of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. We believe this is the most legitimate and effective way to address the culture of impunity and deter serious human rights violations from occurring in the country.”

The BF-UPR will hold a public event immediately after the UPR Working Group session on Burma, from 1-3pm on 27 January in Room 22 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Burmese human rights defenders in the country and exile will observe the Review session on Burma over the UN live webcast and will join the panel discussion through teleconference to provide their reflections on the Review. The event is open to local and international media, members of diplomatic communities and civil society. (ENDS)
For media interviews, please contact:

  • Geneva:   Thaung Htun, Director, Burma Fund UN Office, +41 (0)76 2225692
  • Bo Kyi, Joint-Secretary, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma, +41 (0)76 2199557
  • Za Uk Ling, Program Director, Chin Human Rights Organization, +41 (0)76 7153298
  • Thailand: Aung Myo Min, Director, Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, +66 (0)81 9925293

For general inquries, please contact:

  • Geneva:   Giyoun Kim, UN Advocacy Programme Manager, FORUM-ASIA, +41 (0)79 5957931
  • Thailand: Cheery Zahau, Programme Coordinator, Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, +66 (0)84 9213423