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Letter to President of Republic of the Philippines by members of Free Burma Coalition – Philippines

By Free Burma Coalition - Philippines  •  August 8, 2011

President Benigno S. Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines

Cc:
ALBERT F. DEL ROSARIO, Secretary of Foreign Affairs

Department of Foreign Affairs

Re: CALL TO SUPPORT THE GROWING INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’S DEMAND TO ESTABLISH A UN COMMISSION OF INQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE POSSIBLE COMMISSION OF WAR CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN BURMA

Dear President Aquino:

Today, pro-democracy groups around the world observe the 23rd Anniversary of the EDSA-inspired August 8,1988 national uprising in Burma. Mr. President, today is the day when more than10,000 peaceful demonstrators were shot, arrested and killed as they demanded democracy and an end to human rights violations and economic mismanagement by the Burmese military junta.

The Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Phils) , a coalition of Philippine-based solidarity activists write you this letter as we see the importance of the Philippine government issuing a support to the current global campaign for the establishment of an international Commission of Inquiry for Burma. This commission as you may already know should conduct investigation on reports of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Burma.

It is no secret Mr. President that under the military rule for the past four decades (since 1962) and since Burma was adopted by the ASEAN in 1997, there has been no marked improvement in the quality of life of the peoples of Burma as they continue to live in abject poverty and are subjected to almost all forms of human rights violations including the reported commission of rape, forcible relocation and displacement of people, forced labor and torture of political prisoners, among others. Countless UN reports and resolutions have called for an end to human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Burma but the Burmese junta until today continuously ignores these international demands.

In his report to the Human Rights Council last year, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana said that the ongoing “gross and systematic violations” of human rights in Burma were “the result of a state policy”

Due to the military regime’s lack of accountability to those human rights abuses, Ojea Quintana made a recommendation that the UN consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into possible commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the SPDC; Quintana in his report outlined what he calls a “pattern of gross and systematic violation of human rights”, which according to him has been in place for so many years.

Mr. President, crimes against humanity in Burma have been documented for decades now but no concrete action has been taken against the offenders, mostly the military regime’s security forces who have committed deliberate attacks on civilian population including ethnic nationalities women and children.

We urge the Philippine government to side with the peoples of Burma and join other states to publicly support the establishment of an international Commission of Inquiry for Burma. Raising the issue within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is one noble task that Philippine government could actually do.

As of now, fourteen countries that include Australia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Slovakia, United States, Canada, Hungary, New Zealand, The Netherlands, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Estonia and Belgium have already expressed their support to establish a UN Commission of Inquiry to crimes Burma.

Burma now has a new parliament that was born out of highly-contested national elections last year. This campaign for the establishment of a commission of inquiry could be an opportunity for the new parliament to correct the past mistakes the military rulers of Burma have committed against the people.

We believe Mr. President that if the new parliament is indeed sincere in bringing back the rule of law, justice and genuine peace in Burma, subjecting the country to the process of the international Commission of Inquiry should not be an issue.

We believe that the Philippines as a member of the ASEAN and the UN, has the prime obligation to take an active role in the democratization process in Burma by joining the international community in exerting enough pressure to compel the military government in Burma to institute genuine and substantial political reforms.

The peoples of Burma have had enough Mr. President. We were in the same situation during the dark days of Martial Law and we as a nation know how it feels when your human rights are being violated left and right by one brutal dictator. It’s time to give back and share our solidarity and lessons of struggle against Martial Law to the peoples of Burma.

Supporting the establishment of a commission of inquiry is one way of bringing back justice, democracy and peace in Burma.

Signed,

Members of the Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Phils)

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This post is in: Press Release

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