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burma women's groups demand justice

The Irrawaddy
Women’s Groups Want to See Than Shwe before the ICC
By SAW YAN NAING Friday, August 7, 2009

Sixty five international women’s groups called on the UN Security Council on Friday to initiate action to bring Burma’s junta leaders before the International Criminal Court.

“We call for the UN Security Council to start with a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the horrific campaign of terror by the military regime and to refer Senior General Than Shwe and his cronies to the International Criminal Court for all crimes including for the imprisonment of Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in violation of international law,” the groups said in a joint statement.

The statement—also signed by the Thailand-based Women's League of Burma (WLB)—was sent to all members of the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The statement said strong international intervention in Burma was needed to end systematic human rights abuses by the Burmese junta.

The statement was released to coincide with a UN debate on a report on Burma by Ban.

The WLB also called on the UN Security Council to act on the mandate of its resolution 1820, which is intended to protect civilians in conflict situations. The WLB said the Security Council should use the mandate of the resolution to halt the systemic use of rape and other sex crimes against ethnic women in Burma They had been brutalized for decades, the WLB said.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu recently added his voice to calls for Than Shwe to be held legally accountable for human rights abuses in Burma.

In a tribute to his fellow Peace Prize laurate, Aung San Suu Kyi, Tutu said: “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.”

He pointed out that more than 3,300 ethnic villages in eastern Burma have been destroyed—more than in Darfur—and civilians are deliberately targeted and shot on sight.

“The UN must establish a commission of inquiry, with a view to compiling evidence for prosecution,” said Tutu.

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