Members of U.S. Congress Call On President Obama to Lead Establishment of International Commission of Inquiry in Burma (click to view PDF)

Immediate Press Release
May 3, 2011
Media Contact: Jennifer Quigley at (202) 234 8022

(Washington, DC) The U. S. Campaign for Burma (USCB), a Washington, DC-based grassroots organization campaigning to end crimes against humanity and the culture of impunity in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, today welcomes the call made by Members of U.S. Congress, urging President Obama to “redouble the United States efforts, at the highest levels, to establish the (UN) Commission (of Inquiry)”. A bi-partisan group of 31 Members of the House of Representatives made their call in the letter they sent to President Obama on April 28, 2011. Click here to read the letter.

These Members included Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Donald Manzullo (R-IL) (Chairman of House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific), Frank Wolf (R-VA) and James McGovern (D-MA) (both are Co-chairs of the Tom Lantos’ Human Rights Commission), and Howard Berman (D-CA)

(Ranking Member of House Committee on Foreign Affairs). The Members wrote to President Obama in the letter that, “We acknowledge the steps that have already been taken by your Administration in support of an international investigation, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement in November 2010, in which she said, ”I would like to underscore the American commitment to seek accountability for the human rights violations that have occurred in Burma by working to establish an international Commission of Inquiry through close consultations with our friends, allies, and other partners at the United Nations.” The recent evidence of the military regime’s continued egregious crimes against humanity continues, however, requires a renewed sense of urgency with regard to this matter.”

By expressing their demand for the leadership of President Obama in creating of the UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma, House Members join with their counterparts in the Senate. Last month, a group of Senators, led by Richard Lugar (R-IN) (Ranking Member of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), Mitch McConnell (RKY) (Senate Republic Leader), James Inhofe (R-OH) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) (Chairperson of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) introduced a resolution, S. Con. Res. 12, expressing the sense of Congress that the President should take certain actions with respect to the Government of Burma. In the proposed resolution, Senators called for the President to: (1) report to the Congress about the growing relationship between the Government of Burma and North Korea, and (2) provide international leadership by calling for an international investigation into allegations of crimes against civilians in Burma, including ethnic minorities.

“I appreciate Members of Congress for their relentless support for Burma and call for President Obama to lead the effort to set up a UN Commission of Inquiry”, says Aung Din, a former political prisoner and the Executive Director of the USCB. “US Leadership will make a critical difference in this effort. Recently, the United States effectively organized the members of the United Nations to establish such an investigative commission in Libya. We want President Obama to make a similar effort for Burma as well,” Aung Din continues.

Recently, the military regime completed its seven step road map and formed a so-called civilian government led by Ex-General Thein Sein, whose cabinet is comprised of active-duty generals and retired generals. The regime’s mass organization, Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), notorious for its brutal crackdown on democracy activists and assassination attempt of Aung San Suu Kyi in the Depayin Massacre in May 2003, became the regime’s proxy party and election winning party. Burma is now ruled by two sets of boots, the military run by currently serving generals and its proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), run by retired generals. Meanwhile, severe fighting broke out recently between the regime’s troops and ethnic resistance groups in several ethnic states, including Shan, Karen, Kachin, Karenni and Mon. Several ethnic minority villages were destroyed by the regime’s troops during the latest campaign. Thousands of ethnic villagers are being forced to carry the regime’s military equipment and act as human minesweepers. Fighting is expected to increase in the future as the regime is reinforcing its troops in these areas with thousands of additional troops, and heavy artillery, including cannons, tanks, and missiles. More than 2,100 political prisoners are being incarcerated in various remote prisons throughout the country.

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