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SIARAN PERS
Call for a Commission of Inquiry in Burma

Tgl terbit: Kamis, 25 Agustus 2011

Subject : Call for a Commission of Inquiry in Burma

To : Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, The President of Republic of Indonesia
CC    : Mr. Marty Natalegawa, The Minister of Foreign Affair

Dear Mr. Yudhoyono,

We are writing on behalf of The Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) to encourage Republic of Indonesia to join the growing number of countries calling for the establishment of a UN-led Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

Decades of military dictatorship has led to widespread and systematic human rights violations against the people of Burma, including forced relocation, forced labour, arbitrary detention, sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, torture, large scale recruitment of child soldiers and widespread attacks on civilian populations, many of which may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. These ongoing abuses have been well documented by local and international human rights organizations and the United Nations.

Severe human rights violations have affected the lives of the people of Burma, in particular, ethnic communities, civilian populations in resource rich areas, and political activists. More than 60 years of internal conflict and economic mismanagement has led to massive migration and displacement into neighbouring countries, and subsequent chronic poverty and regional instability. Furthermore, neither the recent elections nor the transition to a so-called “civilian government” have led to a reduction in the targeting of civilians. Over the past 9 months, crimes against civilians have increased, creating tens of thousands of new refugees and internally displaced persons.

Burma’s military regime has failed to take any steps towards addressing these ongoing human rights violations since convening parliament, and has further protected itself from prosecution with a clause in the 2008 Constitution providing impunity for state and military personnel. In light of Burma’s military regime’s lack of willingness and ability to investigate these crimes, the international community must now assume this responsibility by establishing a Commission of Inquiry.

A Commission of Inquiry would be an impartial investigation to establish the truth about serious international crimes in the country. Such an inquiry is critical for Burma because it would be a powerful accountability mechanism that would have long-term preventative value and would be an important step toward reconciliation and future reform in the country.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) conducted a Commision of Inquiry in Burma in 1997. This Commission successfully led to reform of the laws on forced labor and the formalization of the ILO’s presence in the country, demonstrating that international investigations into crimes in Burma are possible, and can achieve positive results that advance human rights.

The creation of a Commission of Inquiry by the UN would not be a radical step, as there are numerous precedents for the UN to establish such commissions. Moreover, the establishment of such a commission in Burma already has significant support inside and outside the country.

As head of a regional state, you are uniquely placed to encourage positive change in Burma. If Republic of Indonesia ignores and conceals the regime’s role in perpetrating human rights violations in Burma, it tacitly sanctions such acts and allows them to continue unabated.

Furthermore, it is the clear responsibility of all ASEAN nations to foster progressive compliance among all of its members, with the human rights obligations set out in the ASEAN Charter.

As witnesses to the crimes against humanity and war crimes being committed in a neighbouring state, we call on Republic of Indonesia to publicly support the call for a Commission of Inquiry, with a fact-finding mission in future resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

A Commission of Inquiry in Burma is a necessary step towards the protection of civilian populations and a transition to a genuine democracy. Without concrete and actionable recommendations that firmly address Burma’s human rights record, there will be little change in the lives of the people of Burma.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns and recommendations. We are at your disposal should you have any questions or should you wish to schedule a meeting to discuss this issue.

Sincerely Yours,

 

Indria Fernida Alphasony, SH
Vice of Coordinator



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