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Human Rights Council holds General Debate on Human Rights Situations that require the Council’s attention

By United Nations Human Rights Council  •  September 17, 2010

General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Attention of the Council

– Excerpts concerning human rights in Burma

ALEX VAN MEEUWEN (Belgium). The European Union was concerned that the upcoming elections in Myanmar were not going to occur in democratic conditions.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France) In Burma, 1,200 prisoners were still not liberated. Human rights were still systematically violated and France expressed its support for the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to establish an international commission of inquiry.

GEIR SJOBERG (Norway) said Norway condemned the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar, and had so far been disappointed by the regime’s lack of effort to keep its promise of a free and fair process towards the upcoming elections in November.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States) said In Myanmar, the human rights situation remained grim and an international commission of inquiry should be structured to examine allegations of serious violations of international law.

PHILIP TISSOT (United Kingdom) The Myanmar authorities had already ensured that the forthcoming elections would not be free or fair, nor reflect the will of the people, and the United Kingdom would continue to insist on the release of all political prisoners and a fully inclusive process of national reconciliation, including all ethnic and opposition groups.

SHINICHI KITAJIMA (Japan) said that Japan continued to have serious concerns regarding the democratisation process in Myanmar. The current situation in which prisoners of conscience, including Aung San Suu Kyi, could not stand for political office in the forthcoming general elections was regrettable. Japan urged the Government of Myanmar to release prisoners of conscience.

DANTE MARTINELLI (Switzerland) said Switzerland was concerned about the persistence of grave human rights violations in Myanmar. It was crucial for the authorities to respect their commitment to hold free, transparent and inclusive elections in November.

BRANISLAV LYSÁK (Slovakia) said with regard to the perpetual impunity for grave human rights violations in Myanmar, Slovakia remained concerned and hoped the international community would work to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, and that the Government would use the upcoming elections as a gateway towards true democracy, with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia) said Australia remained gravely concerned by Myanmar’s suppression of the human rights and democratic aspirations of its people, and urged the authorities to seek to solve Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts non-militarily.

GEIR SJOBERG (Ireland) said Ireland had long expressed its concern regarding the situation in Myanmar and was committed to the belief that democracy was the best way forward. Ireland had grave concerns about the treatment of ethnic minorities by the Government of Myanmar.

VERONIKA STROMSIKOVA (Czech Republic) said A Commission of Inquiry should be set up on Myanmar, with a specific fact-finding mandate to address the question of international crimes. Some of the human rights violations in the country may entail categories of crimes against humanity or war, crimes under the terms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

ARNOLD DE FINE SKIBSTED (Denmark) said Myanmar should undertake all steps to ensure that the upcoming elections would be free, fair and inclusive. Denmark encouraged the Government to engage more with the United Nations and the international community.

WUNNA MAUNG LWIN (Myanmar) said Myanmar strongly believed that the promotion and protection of human rights and challenges faced by countries should only be resolved in a cooperative, non-politicized and non-selective manner. The Government had made every effort to hold free and fair elections in a peaceful and stable manner and the participation in the elections depended on the decision and interest of an individual or a party. In March 2010, the Government had formed the Union Election Commission and promulgated election laws that were essential to hold free and fair elections. Thirty-seven political parties would be participating in the general elections in November. Myanmar was transforming toward democratic society and the destiny of Myanmar should be decided by its own people. It was not fair to make prejudgements and set preconditions on the upcoming elections from outside with the intention of interfering in internal affairs. The priority of Myanmar was to maintain peace and stability and the international community should recognize positive accomplishments of the Government and assist it through this process through understanding and encouragement.

WUNNA MAUNG LWIN (Myanmar), speaking in a right of reply, said that the allegations against Myanmar were completely false and unfounded. There were no crimes against humanity in Myanmar and the Government had negotiated ceasefires with 17 of the 18 rebel groups. The military only conducted counter-insurgency activities and not acts of military aggression. With regard to the issue of impunity, any member of the military who breached national law was subject to legal punishments. The Myanmar Governmental authority said that there was no need to conduct investigations in Myanmar since there were no human rights violations there. In closing, Myanmar asked that the Human Rights Council not be used as a forum to unfairly exert political pressure on certain countries.

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This post is in: Crimes Against Humanity

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