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US NGOs call on Obama to take action on Burma

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Freedom House has joined other human rights organizations in calling on the US government to take more decisive action against human rights abuses in Burma.

hillary-clinton-In a “Letter to President Obama,” dated July 7, Freedom House and 21 other NGOs called on the US government to impose economic sanctions on Burma, as outlined in the JADE Act, and to sanction banks “financing the junta’s economic activities,” in addition to imposing sanctions on government leaders and officials.

The Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts (JADE) Act was approved by the US Senate and House in 2008. It calls for targeted sanctions on present and former Burmese government officials.

The letter also called for a Commission of Inquiry to look into war crimes and human rights abuses.

The groups quoted the support voiced by the National League for Democracy for targeted sanctions.

The letter reminded the US president that a bipartisan group of senators had sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which the senators stated, “The National League for Democracy party, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, asserts that financial sanctions can be effective and targeted to only members of the military junta and their associates.”

They urged Secretary Clinton “to exercise the authority for additional banking sanctions against Burma’s leaders explicitly provided by Congress in Section 5 of the JADE Act.”

The NGOs said they fully supported the senators’ call. “If your administration remains committed to maintaining sanctions against the Burmese junta, it should be implemented,” the letter said.

They also urged the government to launch a vigorous diplomatic effort to win support at the United Nations for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Burmese military’s campaigns against ethnic minority groups. They repeated Aung San Suu Kyi’s comments, quoting her as saying she supported the UN Rapporteur’s call for such a commission, “making it quite clear that a commission of inquiry is not a tribunal. It is simply a commission of inquiry to find out what human rights violations have taken place and what we can do to ensure that such violations do not take place in the future.”

The letter said the need for such a commission has only increased in the last several weeks with the escalation of armed conflict in Burma’s ethnic areas.

Freedom House ranks Burma in the bottom tier of the world’s most repressive regimes, earning it a place in their “Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2011” report.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 09 July 2011 12:18 )  
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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