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Canada Under Increased Pressure To Support UN Inquiry Into War Crimes

By Canadian Friends of Burma and Burma Campaign UK  •  August 11, 2010

Canadian Friends of Burma and Burma Campaign UK have joined forces to call on the Canadian government to support a UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

For many years the United Nations has been documenting horrific human rights abuses which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include the deliberate targeting of civilians, with more than 3,500 villages in Eastern Burma destroyed in the past 15 years, the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war, torture and mutilations, arbitrary executions and slave labour.

In a groundbreaking report in March this year, the Special Rapporteur on Burma stated that the ‘gross and systematic’ nature of the abuses and the lack of action to stop them indicated; ‘a state policy that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels.’ He also stated; ‘According to consistent reports, the possibility exists that some of these human rights violations may entail categories of crimes against humanity or war crimes under the terms of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.’ … ‘UN institutions may consider the possibility to establish a commission of inquiry with a specific fact finding mandate to address the question of international crimes.’

Canada has traditionally taken the lead in supporting accountability and respect for international human rights and humanitarian law. It has also been a strong supporter of promoting human rights and democracy in Burma. However, five months has passed since the report by the Special Rapporteur, and Canada has failed to publicly state that it supports a UN inquiry.

Seventy-three Canadian MPs and Senators (see the list here) have called on the government to support an Inquiry. More than three thousand people have emailed the Canadian government in the past week alone, also calling on Canada to support an inquiry.

“The Government of Canada, especially Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, should respond to this important call. For Canada, this is another practical step to take action against the repressive regime in Burma,” said Tin Maung Htoo, Executive Director of Canadian Friends of Burma.

“The campaign to persuade Canada to support a UN Commission of Inquiry is now going global,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “It is very surprising Canada has not publicly stated that it supports the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur for a Commission of Inquiry. We need as many countries as possible on the record with their support. Canada’s silence will encourage the dictatorship that they can continue to get away with their crimes.”

So far Australia, the UK, Czech Republic and Slovakia have expressed support for a UN Commission of Inquiry.

For more information contact Tin Maung Htoo on (613) 297-6835, and Mark Farmaner on 44(0)7941239640

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This post is in: Press Release

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