Friday, October 29, 2010

Win Tin slates UN head’s rights report omissions

Friday, 29 October 2010 18:13 Thomas Maung Shwe

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – NLD co-founder and former political prisoner Win Tin expressed extreme disappointment that UN chief’s report to the UN General Assembly on Burma’s human rights situation failed to seriously address violations against ethnic minorities, he told Mizzima recently.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s report was presented to the general assembly last month but was only made public a month later. It was supposed to cover the situation of human rights in Burma for the period from August last year to August this year but it failed to detail any of the Burmese regime’s military offensives in ethnic minority areas during that time. In particular, there was no mention of the infamous attack last year in August and September on the Kokang region of Shan State that forced 37,000 refugees to flee to China.

Win Tin told Mizzima it was disturbing that Ban had neglected to cover abuses against ethnic people because “in Burma many of the worst and most frequent human rights violations committed by the army are against ethnic people”.

He said Ban’s failure to mention the junta’s attack on the Kokang region and the military offensives in ethnic Karen areas of eastern Burma was evidence that the secretary general and his staff were not interested in seriously addressing the issue of human rights abuses against ethnic people. Win Tin added that the attacks on ethnic people over the past year showed that Ban was wrong to make in his report the optimistic observation that “the past 15 years have seen a significant reduction in the overall level of conflict in Myanmar [Burma]”.

He was appalled that Ban’s report completely ignored the conclusion reached by UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana in his March report that the human rights abuses in Burma were serious enough to warrant a commission of inquiry. Likewise, Ban’s report had omitted any mention of Quinana’s assessment that in Burma 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 [known as the Rome Statute]”.

Because of a lack of his leadership and his unwillingness to take a stronger stand, the secretary general had “become a bit of joke in Burma”, Win Tin said. Referring to Ban’s repeated statements of “concern” regarding the situation in Burma, Win Tin asked “if he forgets to include in his report the army’s attacks on Burma’s ethnic nationalities and peasants in rural areas, is Ban Ki Moon really concerned?”

The UN secretary general is presently in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, attending the Asean summit. Coming soon is a related story: “Burma issue poses problems for Asean Summit”

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