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UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Must Fulfill Her Potential for Burma

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On 2 October 2007, in a letter FORUM-ASIA urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar will carry out all his duty. His visit to the country is “a matter of urgency” and establishment of whereabouts of the arrested demonstrators is one of the priority issues.

FORUM-ASIA Open letter for UNHCHR Louise Arbour on outcome of the UN HRC Special Session on Burma

2 Oct 2007

Mme. Louise Arbour
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Dear Mme. High Commissioner,

We at FORUM-ASIA would first like to express our warm thanks for your constructive input into yesterday’s fifth special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. Your voice lends considerable weight and authority to the calls of human rights defenders in Asia for action on Burma. We welcome the continuing interest you have shown on the issue.

FORUM-ASIA issued an urgent appeal to the Asian members of the Council prior to the convening of the special session calling upon them to fully participate. We also released a written statement and delivered an oral statement at the session itself calling, inter alia, for a high-level fact-finding mission to be led by you, and for a push for the establishment of an ongoing OHCHR presence on the ground in Burma/Myanmar to look beyond the recent events, and assess the human rights situation in the country more broadly. Our key concern was that the resolution to be adopted at the session would move beyond mere rhetoric, and lead to an immediate improvement on the ground.

We regret that the resolution adopted at the special session lacks provision for concrete follow-up. Nonetheless, we stand willing to lend our support to all efforts to fully implement its terms.

In this regard we urge you to do everything your mandate allows to ensure that the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar is fully able to carry out what is required of him under operational paragraph 9 of the resolution. His visit must be carried out as a matter of urgency. Among the priority issues must be the establishment of the whereabouts of the thousands of demonstrators who were arrested and detained and ensuring that those responsible for attacking unarmed civilians can be brought to justice.

We also call upon you to examine closely the possibilities offered by operational paragraph 7 for your Office to engage in dialogue with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) with a view to ensuring full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Such dialogue is essential if the broader human rights situation is to be properly assessed.

Finally, we would take this opportunity to assure you that we at FORUM-ASIA are ready to provide any assistance you or your Office may require in following-up on the resolution. We hope that we can work together to strive for a better future for the people of Burma/Myanmar.

Yours sincerely,


Anselmo Lee
Executive Director