Thursday, 17 July 2008

Regime’s Right to Represent Burma Challenged

The Irrawaddy News

An umbrella opposition group in exile, the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB), has objected to the claims of the ruling military regime to represent the country in the United Nations General Assembly.

Myint Thein, the NCUB’s joint secretary, said it was important for the nations of the world to cooperate and extend their active support to the people of Burma, who live under the repressive military junta.

“We want the UN to stand up for the principles of democracy and human rights and reject the credentials of the State Peace and Development Council’s delegation to the United Nations during the upcoming session of the General Assembly.”

Besides campaigning to challenge the regime’s right to represent Burma in the UN, the group confirmed that it would also push to put Burmese human rights issues on the UN Security Council’s agenda and urge the world body to arraign Burma’s junta before the International Criminal Court for its crimes against humanity.

The NCUB has repeatedly engaged in similar campaigns over the past decade, but with no success.

Myint Thein said that the UN should not provide a seat for the Burmese regime, which is one of the world’s most repressive and secretive governments, because of its human rights abuses and its refusal to honor the results of legitimate elections held in 1990, when Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won 80 percent of parliamentary seats.

“We used to only focus our campaign against them [on the basis that] they are not a legal government, but the situation is different now. We want the UN to reject them based on the very recent human rights violations in combination with the junta’s past atrocities,” said Myint Thein.

In a statement released on Monday, the NCUB detailed significant human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime. Among other offenses, the statement described the junta’s ruthless crackdown on peaceful protests by monks and citizens calling for democratic reforms during last year’s “Saffron Revolution.”

The statement also pointed to the regime’s refusal to accept international assistance following Cyclone Nargis as evidence of its failure to provide good governance, and slammed the junta’s decision to go ahead with a discredited constitutional referendum a week after the storm. It also mentioned the illegal extension of Aung San Suu Kyi’s confinement in late May.

Past injustices described in the statement include the killing of protesters during the 1988 national uprising, the regime’s refusal to honor the 1990 elections, its murder of NLD members in the 2003 Depayin massacre, and the ongoing practice of rape, forced labor and killing in ethnic areas.

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