Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu is calling on people to sign a petition to the U.S. and U.K. Ambassadors to the United Nations asking for a UN Security Council Commission of Inquiry and a global arms embargo on Burma.
The timing on this is crucial: the United States (and United Kingdom) have an unparalleled opportunity to take action. In August and September, the UK and US will serve consecutively as President of the UN Security Council. The UK and US ambassadors to the UN, John Sawers and Susan Rice, have the power to propose a Security Council resolution creating this investigation (also called a “Commission of Inquiry”).
About six weeks ago, 55 members of Congress sent a letter to the Obama administration urging him to call for an official UN Security Council investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma. So far, the administration’s verbal calls for change in Burma are falling on the deaf ears of Than Shwe’s military regime.
Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient, recently echoed the calls of the 55 members of Congress, stating: “Burma’s generals are criminals, and must be treated as such. Than Shwe should be held accountable for abominable atrocities: his soldiers rape ethnic women and children, they torture, mutilate and murder at will. In eastern Burma, more than 3,300 ethnic villages have been destroyed, more than in Darfur. Civilians are deliberately targeted and shot on sight. The UN must establish a commission of inquiry, with a view to compiling evidence for prosecution. Failure to do so amounts to complicity with these crimes.”
Congress and Tutu aren’t the only ones calling for urgent action. The former United Nations expert on human rights in Burma, made the exact same call in an article in the New York Times stating: “The Security Council must establish a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity and impunity in Myanmar. The Security Council took similar steps with regard to Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The situation in Myanmar is equally as critical.”
At the same time, five of the world’s leading judges — including those that served on the International Criminal Tribunals on Rwanda and Yugoslavia — just released a report calling for an end to crimes against humanity in Burma, and urging the UN Security Council to create a commission of inquiry.