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nobel women's letter

Nobel Women’s Initiative
Women’s League of Burma

For immediate release to media

March 3, 2010, 10 am EST

International Tribunal on Burma Calls for End to Impunity of Military Regime

Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams – along with human
rights experts
Dr. Heisoo Shin (Korea) and Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand) – today
released the
findings and recommendations developed during the International Tribunal
on Crimes
Against Women of Burma held this week in New York City. The
quasi‐legal event featured
compelling testimony – the first ever – of 12 women from Burma who have
suffered rape,
torture, and other crimes at the hands of the military junta. The event
highlighted the
egregious human rights crimes, including rape as a weapon of war, and
called for
policymakers to demand a last resort: the International Criminal Court.

“Women should no longer be invisible when crimes are committed against
them with
impunity,” said Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. “The
history of
violence and oppression of women in Burma is long and sordid—and must come
to an end.”
A few of the women who testified are colleagues of Aung San Suu Kyi, the
leader of the
opposition, still under house arrest and a prisoner of General Than Shwe.
Than Shwe is the
war criminal who has reigned terror over the people of Burma for decades.
World leaders
have rallied in support of her freedom countless times since her Nobel
Peace Prize award in
1991, passing UN resolutions almost annually and demanding the release of
her and other
political prisoners. But these cries have fallen on deaf ears, with the
international
community failing to hold General Shwe and his cronies criminally
responsible. The
resulting impunity has given the ruling generals of Burma even more
license to escalate
their power and continue to inflict violence on the people of Burma.

“We live in globalized world, which means that Burma cannot do whatever it
wants to its
people within its own walls,” said Shirin Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace
Prize in 2003.
“Globalization is effective when it helps bring an end to injustice. The
international
community cannot stand by and let other countries to use their sovereignty
to commit
atrocities against their own people.”

The purpose of the Tribunal was to spotlight the oppression of women of
Burma in order to
encourage policymakers and political leaders to take specific action now.
There has never
been a call to refer Burma to the International Criminal Court. The women
Nobel Laureates
have joined with the Women’s League of Burma to highlight the systemic use
of rape and
other forms of violence against ethnic women in Burma. The Women’s League
of Burma is
an umbrella organization comprising thirteen women’s organizations of
different ethnic
backgrounds in Burma.

The women who testified now live in Thailand, Bangladesh, the US and
Canada and traveled
to New York to tell their personal stories and those of their families.
Their stories include a
range of horrific human rights violations and crimes. Testimony was
organized into three
categories: violence against women (rape, sexual violence, trafficking),
civil and political
violations (torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment), and
social, economic and
cultural violations (forced labor, portering, relocation). Violence
against women in Burma
is often ethnically motivated, particularly minority groups such as the
Karen who have been
brutally persecuted by the military regime.

The following are the recommendations of the Tribunal:

Recommendations to the international community, particularly the United
Nations:
• Urge States to take collective action to ensure the implementation of
Security
Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, and 1889 guaranteeing women’s full
participation in post‐conflict reconstruction, and freedom from all
forms of sexual
violence.

• Strongly urge the UN Security Council to refer Burma to the International
Criminal Court.

• Call upon United Nations member States to fulfill their obligations to
exercise
universal jurisdiction and to prosecute through their national tribunals
perpetrators
of the crimes against the civilian population of Burma, including women.
• Ask United Nations agencies with a presence in Burma to increase their
work in
promoting and protecting human rights.

• Call upon the United Nations Security Council to take effective measures
against
state authorities on the basis of the responsibility of the state to
protect its people
from egregious human rights violations (Responsibility to Protect Doctrine).

• Urge the United Nations system to take measures to ensure that the Burmese
authorities comply with international human rights standards and
international
humanitarian law.

Recommendations to Burma’s military regime:

• Stop all forms of violence against women. “End the intimidation,
harassment,
arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, torture, and degrading treatment
against
women [and all] political prisoners; [and] respect and adhere to the
principles and
norms of the international [criminal and] human rights standards,
particularly
Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against
Women...”

• Stop attacks and persecution against ethnic nationalities and groups.

• Release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners.

• Grant access to United Nations agencies and non‐governmental
humanitarian
groups to ensure that women, in particular, are assisted effectively.

• Provide access to and cooperate with United Nations agencies and human
rights
organizations to monitor human rights within Burma.

• Ratify all human rights treaties, including ICCPR and ICESCR, and
implement them
effectively.

• Abide by rules of customary international law, such as the prohibitions
against
torture, slavery, and violence against women and children.

• Ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, reform and
implement
domestic legislation accordingly.

• Establish an effective process for dialogue between different
stakeholders including
democracy groups, ethnic minorities/nationalities, and concerned
authorities with
emphasis on women’s participation in the pursuit of democracy.

• Revise the constitution, particularly the amnesty provisions, and other
national laws
in an inclusive and participatory manner, engaging all stakeholders including
women, to ensure consistency with international legal obligations and
human rights
standards.

• Establish effective judicial mechanisms and other processes to establish
accountability and provide adequate remedies for international crimes and
human
rights violations to end impunity.

• Build human‐centered national development plans and processes that
respond to
women’s human rights bearing in mind the special needs of rural women, and
allocate national resources fairly and equitably for this purpose.

Recommendations to the Asia Pacific region (including ASEAN, bilateral and
other
channels):

• Call upon ASEAN through its Summit of Heads of Government to impel Burma to
apply effective and time‐limited measures to comply with the ASEAN
Charter and
international legal obligations and human rights standards.

• Invite the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission to submit
thematic
reports covering particular issues related to Burma.

• Bearing in mind the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence
Against
Women and various declarations on children’s rights in the region, to
which Burma
has subscribed, support the establishment of the ASEAN Commission for the
Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, including
consideration of the situation in Burma.

• Call upon the various partners of ASEAN and other regional bodies and
states
engaging with Burma to influence constructive changes in the country.

• Prohibit trade with Burma involving goods produced through forced labor,
as well
as oil, gas, and electricity generated as a result of forced relocations.

• Take effective cross‐border measures to prevent and punish human
trafficking, in
particular that of women and children, and to offer gender and child
sensitive
measures to protect and assist those victimized by trafficking.

• Respect the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, protect
them from
violence, abuse, and exploitation, and forced repatriation, which violates
the
international principle of nonrefoulement,
and ensure the application of basic
standards of international law.

Recommendations to civil society:

• Continue to actively engage with the peoples of Burma inside and outside
of the country.

• Mobilize public pressure at the international, regional and
national/local levels to raise
consciousness of the crimes and violations being committed by the Burmese
military
regime against the peoples of Burma, especially women and children.

• Demand that their governments and the relevant organs of the United
Nations, including
the Security Council, take action to implement the recommendations of this
Tribunal to
ensure the transition of Burma to genuine and legitimate democracy, human
rights, peace
and sustainable human- and women-centered development.

• Civil society organizations working on human rights, international
humanitarian
assistance, and issues relating to Burma work together in a Committee of
Inquiry for
deliberation regarding the situation in Burma with the purpose of coming
to a joint
declaration on the situation in that country and / or a coordinated plan
of action in support
of democracy in Burma.

For more information, and to arrange interviews, please contact us:
• Rachel Vincent: Mobile: + 1-613-276-9030,
rvincent@nobelwomensinitiative.org
• Kimberley MacKenzie: +1-908-342-0160, kmackenzie@nobelwomensinitiative.org
• Kieran Bergmann: +1-613-569-8400 ext. 115,
kbergmann@nobelwomensinitiative.org

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