Burma’s Authorities Denied Rights Violations at UPR Session in Geneva
27 January 2011: A delegation of Burma’s ten military officials led by Deputy Attorney General Dr. Tun Shin denied state-orchestrated widespread, systematic and persistent human rights violations against the people of Burma at Burma Forum on the Universal Periodic Review (BF-UPR) held in Geneva, Switzerland today.
The delegation sent by Burma’s ruling military regime faced a series of questions in regards to human rights violations perpetrated in the country at a Geneva session where the United Nations Human Rights Council examined Burma’s human rights record as part of its first UPR.
Despite well-documented evidence to the contrary, the Burmese delegation said: “Accusations of rape against ethnic women are baseless, with the aim of discrediting armed forces. The armed forces have a zero tolerance policy towards serious human rights violations, including sexual violence. There is no widespread occurrence of human rights violations with impunity.”
Throughout the three-hour UPR dialogue, States raised numerous concerns, including the issue of political prisoners, treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, and impunity for perpetrators of gross human rights violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.
One of the BF-UPR Representatives, Salai Za Uk Ling of Chin Human Rights Organisation said: “Despite the claims made in the regime’s National Report to the UPR that the rights to freedom of religion and non-discrimination are guaranteed under law, Burma’s ethnic and religious minorities face ongoing persecution as part of a state policy of forced assimilation.”
When asked about more than 2,190 political prisoners currently detained for peacefully execising their basic political rights, Zaw Win, Director General of Prisons, said: “They are imprisoned because they have breached prevailing laws, not because of their political beliefs. There are no prison deaths resulting from torture.”
However, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a member of the Burma Forum on the Universal Periodic Review (BF-UPR), has documented the deaths of 146 political prisoners in detention since 1988, due to torture and denial of medical treatment.
A joint statement released today by a coalition of fourteen human rights and civil society organizations said it is deeply disappointing that all nine member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chose to commend the regime on its 7 November elections as a positive development while failing to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in eastern Burma as a result of intensified armed conflict since the elections, which has caused thousands of refugees to flee into neighbouring countries.
Their expressions of support on the implementation of the 7-Step Roadmap is also of particular concern, as the Roadmap fails to genuinely include all stakeholders in the country, and has resulted in a deeply flawed Constitution that enshrines impunity and fails to meet international human rights norms and standards, the statement added.
The Burma Forum on the Universal Periodic Review urges the military regime to act now and immediately halt all human rights violations and accept the numerous recommendations made during the Review including: immediately and unconditionally releasing all political prisoners; reforming the judiciary; ratifying and effectively implementing all international human rights treaties; ensuring full rights to ethnic and religious minorities both in law and in practice; and in particular, the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry in line with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar’s recommendation, as proposed by the Czech Republic.
Representatives from Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPP-B), Arakan Rivers Network (ARN), Burma Fund UN Office, Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC), Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), Emergency Act Team vs Backpack Health Worker Team, Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB), Foundation for Education and Development (FED), Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), Human Rights Foundation of Mon Land (HURFOM), Kachin Women’s Organization Thailand (KWAT), Kaladan Press Bangladesh, Shwe Gas Movement, Women and Child Rights Project (WCRP), were in Geneva for the Review.
Van Biak Thang