UN Security Council Debate on Burma at Last
CSW (09/19/06) Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today welcomes the unprecedented move by the United Nations Security Council to formally add Burma to its agenda, pronouncing the countrys military regime a threat to international peace and security.
Calls for the UN Security Council to discuss the crisis in Burma gained momentum last year with the release of the report Threat to the Peace: A call for the UN Security Council to Act in Burma , commissioned by Nobel Laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu and former Czech President Vaclav Havel. The decision on Friday 15 September to put the situation in Burma on the Security Council agenda was supported by ten nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States .
Human rights violations are rife in Burma and include widespread recruitment of child soldiers, rape, forced relocation of ethnic villages, forced labour, and human minesweepers. A recent CSW fact-finding visit to Kachin State , Northern Burma , uncovered fresh evidence of these abuses. One former Burma Army Major told CSW that some child soldiers are so young they still pee in the night. A recent report, Chronic Emergency: Health and Human Rights in Eastern Burma, claimed that infant mortality rates and deaths from treatable diseases in Burma are among the worst in the world. The World Health Organisation ranks Burma s health care 190th out of 191 states.
Burma is also rated one of the worst violators of religious freedom. The U.S. State Departments latest Annual Report on International Religious Freedom was released last week and documents the restrictions placed on minority religions to publicly practise their faith or construct new places of worship.
Tina Lambert, CSWs Advocacy Director, said: CSW is delighted that the UN Security Council is finally giving the crisis in Burma the attention it deserves. It is a long-overdue first step towards restoring freedom and democracy. We call on the Security Council to turn words into action by passing a binding resolution calling for meaningful dialogue between the regime, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the ethnic nationalities, assuring unhindered access to all areas of the country for international humanitarian organisations, and the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in Burma .
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Ten of the fifteen Security Council members voted in favour of putting the situation in Burma on the Councils agenda. The countries voting in favour were the United States , the United Kingdom , France , Denmark , Greece , Japan , Peru , Argentina , Slovakia and Ghana . Russia and China voted against, while Tanzania abstained.
2. 27 September marks the 18th anniversary of the founding of the NLD.
3. The report Chronic Emergency: Health and Human Rights in Eastern Burma , released by the Backpack Health Worker Team (BPHWT) can be downloaded from the website at www.geocities.com/maesothtml/bphwt/index.html.
4. The U.S. Department of States Annual Report on International Religious Freedom ( Burma ) can be found here
5. Threat to the Peace: A call for the UN Security Council to Act in Burma can be found here