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U.S. envoy urges Burma to investigate reported human rights abuses

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The U.S. special representative to Burma says that as a first step to seek national reconciliation in Burma, the government needs to establish a mechanism for investigating reported human rights abuses in ethnic areas.

The U.S. envoy for policy on Burma, Ambassador Derek Mitchell, speaks to reporters during a press conference at Yangon International Airport before his departure from Burma on Wednesday, September 14, 2011. The envoy ended his first visit to the country by urging "genuine and concrete" reforms by the army-backed regime and said Washington would respond "in kind." Photo: AFPA press release issued on Wednesday by U.S. Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma Ambassador Derek J. Mitchell said: “I affirmed the importance of establishing a legitimate and credible mechanism for investigating reported abuses in ethnic areas as a first step toward building trust and promoting national reconciliation through accountability.” The statement was released at the end his five-day visit.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, has called for a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. 16 countries including the U.S have supported his proposal. Under the circumstances, the U.S. special representative urged the government to establish a credible mechanism by themselves for investigating human rights violations.

Mitchell said that he was reminded consistently during his visit that Suu Kyi remains deeply important to the citizens of the country, Burman and ethnic minorities alike, and that any credible reform effort must include her participation.
Moreover, Mitchell’s statement said that he raised concerns regarding the detention of approximately 2,000 political prisoners and continued hostilities in ethnic minority areas accompanied by reports of serious human rights violations, including against women and children.

In the statement, Mitchell also expressed his concern about the lack of transparency in the government’s military relationship with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Shortly before he left Burma, Mitchell said in a press conference that he urged the government to adhere to all of its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions related to nuclear proliferation.
Mitchell said in his statement: “I responded that the United States recognized and welcomed recent gestures from Naypyitaw, such as President Thein Sein’s meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission, public emphasis on dialogue with ethnic minority groups in the interest of national reconciliation and moderate easing of media censorship.”
In his press conference, Mitchell said that he noted that many within the international community remain skeptical about the government’s commitment, and he urged Burmese authorities to prove the skeptics wrong.
In his statement, Mitchell said he urged the government to take concrete actions in a timely fashion to demonstrate its sincerity and genuine commitment to reform and national reconciliation, including by releasing all political prisoners unconditionally, engaging in meaningful outreach to the political opposition, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and engaging in dialogue rather than armed conflicts with ethnic minority groups.

In Naypyitaw, he met with Union Parliament Speaker Khin Aung Myint; People’s Parliament Speaker Thura Shwe Mann; Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin; Labor and Social Welfare Minister Aung Kyi; Border Affairs Minister Lieutenant General Thein Htay; Information Minister Kyaw Hsan; and the Union Solidarity and Development Party Secretary Htay Oo, according to the statement.

He also met with a cross section of opposition MPs, including representatives from ethnic minority regions, the statement said.
On Sunday, Mitchell visited charity organizations the Free Funeral Services Society led by former actor Kyaw Thu, the Thukha Charity Clinic, and the South Dagon Township HIV/AIDS salvation centre led by Phyu Phyu Thin.
On Monday, he met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I was encouraged by and pleased with the quality and openness of the exchanges, and the constructive and respectful tone of each interaction I had,” he said.

“During these meetings, my government interlocutors repeatedly stated that this country had opened a new chapter to a civilian-led democratic governing structure and expressed that they were sincerely committed to reform in the interest of human rights, democracy, development, and national reconciliation,” he said, according to his press statement.

“Being my initial visit, my primary goal was to introduce myself, listen to local perspectives, and establish relationships that I will build on as I proceed to fulfill my mandate and responsibilities for managing the U.S. Burma policy,” Mitchell said.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 September 2011 21:33 )  

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