Myanmar pro-democracy leaders welcome US decision to back war crimes commissionBy AP
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Myanmar pro-democracy leaders praise US decision
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar pro-democracy parties on Friday praised the U.S. decision to support a U.N. war crimes commission as a milestone but cautioned it was too soon to be optimistic.
“We support and welcome the decision by the United States. However, this is just the first step and several more steps have to be taken before it is actually implemented,” said Tin Oo, vice chairman of Aung San Suu Kyi’s recently disbanded opposition party, the National League for Democracy.
The United States said Wednesday it has decided to support the creation of a U.N. commission to look into alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Myanmar.
The White House said in a statement that it believes the commission could advance the cause of human rights in Myanmar, also known as Burma, by “addressing issues of accountability for responsible senior members of the Burmese regime.”
Tin Oo said he hoped such a commission would bring the junta to a dialogue table with the opposition, a long-standing demand of the international community.
“If the military government changed its mindset and talked to the country’s democratic forces, all the country’s woes will be resolved,” said Tin Oo.
By supporting the U.N. inquiry, the Obama administration is committing itself to backing an investigation of the military junta led since 1992 by Senior Gen. Than Shwe.
Than Shwe’s loyalists overturned election results in 1990 that favored Suu Kyi’s political party. Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, remains under house arrest.
Myanmar is holding elections Nov. 7 — the first in two decades — but critics say they are a sham designed to perpetuate the military’s command. Suu Kyi’s party is boycotting the elections and was disbanded after refusing to register for the polls.
The United States is almost certain to face opposition from China, a close ally of Myanmar, if it seeks to have the U.N. Security Council establish a commission. It could also ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon or go to the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council or the Geneva-based Human Rights Council where no country has a veto.
“We welcome the decision by the Obama administration and we regard the decision as a milestone,” said Khin Maung Swe, leader of the National Democratic Force party, formed by renegade members of Suu Kyi’s former party.
“But we have to wait and see how effective the decision will be as some countries with veto-wielding power can oppose at the Security Council,” he said.
“All big nations have to help solve the problems of immense socio-economic disparity and abject poverty the country is facing in order to prevent human rights abuses in the country,” Swe added.
Tags: Asia, Democracy, Myanmar, North America, Southeast Asia, United States, War Crimes, Yangon