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International Justice and Burma
Proposals for international judicial action and reports alleging crimes against humanity in Burma/Myanmar

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: FIDH / BLC Seminar Advancing Human Rights and ending impunity in Burma: which external leverages?
Date of publication: May 2009
Description/subject: FIDH Opening Remarks by Cynthia Gabriel, FIDH vice president... BLC Opening Remarks by Thein Oo, BLC president... Advances in International Law on Grave Crimes and the Security Council’s Role Janet Benshoof, President of the Global Justice Center... Past Referrals Experiences: The Referral of the Situation in Darfur and Current Developments (Article 16 of the ICC Statute) Mariana Pena, FIDH permanent representative to the ICC... Current Dynamics Within the Security Council, Past Security Council Reaction to NonCompliant Government and Prospects in 2009 with the New SC members Antoine Madelin, FIDH Director for Intergovernmental organisations... Crimes Under the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and its Complementarity Principle Evelyn BalaisSerrano, Coordinator for AsiaPacific Coalition for the International Criminal Court... Role and Activities of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor Mariana Pena, FIDH Permanent Representative to the ICC... Documenting Crimes Against Humanity in Eastern Burma Dr. Yuval Ginbar, Legal Adviser, Amnesty International... International Criminal Law and Burma: A Brief Explanatory Note Magda Karagiannakis, Barrister, former UN legal advisor... The Value of Archives: An Example from Guatemala Youk Chhang, Director of Documentation Center of Cambodia... A Brief Analysis on the Constitution of Burma (2008) Aung Htoo, General Secretary of the Burma Lawyers’ Council... Existing Sanctions Against the Burmese Regime EU Stance Mark Farmaner, Burma Campaign United Kingdom... ASEAN and its approach to Human Rights within Myanmar Kalpalata Dutta, Asian Institute for Human Rights... The Democratization Process in Burma and the Role of India Mr. Kim, Coordinator, Shwe Gas Campaign Committee... List of Actors and Organisations Present at the Seminar
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); Burma Lawyers' Council (BLC)
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Date of entry/update: 30 November 2010

Individual Documents

Title: TRAINED TO TORTURE: Systematic war crimes by the Burma Army in Ta’ang areas of northern Shan State (March 2011 - March 2016)
Date of publication: 28 June 2016
Description/subject: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS: "...This report provides evidence that the Burma Army is committing war crimes – in particular torture, shelling of civilian targets, and enslavement of civilians as porters and human shields -- on a widespread, systematic scale during its ongoing offensives in Ta’ang areas of northern Shan State. The fact that the crimes are being committed with complete impunity, not only by locally based battalions, but increasingly by battalions deployed under combat divisions deployed from central Burma, indicates clearly that the crimes are being authorized from the central command. TWO is gravely concerned that the Burma Army, which remains exempt from civilian oversight under the current constitution, is not only continuing its offensives in the ethnic areas in defiance of the “peace process”, but is also systematically committing war crimes against the ethnic peoples in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. It is urgently needed for the National League for Democracy (NLD) to act to curb the military’s power, its criminal practices and impunity. Simply sharing power with the Burma Army under the current government will only maintain the military status quo, perpetuating the war and condemning the ethnic peoples to untold ongoing suffering..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Ta'ang Women's Organization (TWO)
Format/size: pdf (2.85MB)
Date of entry/update: 29 June 2016

Title: Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma’s Chin State
Date of publication: 2011
Description/subject: "...Our data reveal that Government authorities have perpetrated human rights violations against the ethnic Chin population in Western Burma. Although other researchers have posited that a prima facie case exists for crimes against humanity in Burma, the current study provides the first quantitative data on these alleged crimes. At least eight of the violations that we surveyed fall within the purview of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and may constitute crimes against humanity. The ICC has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, including murder, extermination, enslavement, forced displacement, arbitrary detention, torture, rape, group persecution, enforced disappearance, apartheid, and other inhumane acts. For acts to be investigated by the ICC as crimes against humanity, three common elements must be established: (1) Prohibited acts took place after 1 July 2002 when the ICC treaty entered into force. (2) Such acts were committed by government authorities as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population. (3) The perpetrator intended or knew that the conduct was part of the attack. Our research demonstrates that the human rights violations we surveyed in Chin State meet these necessary elements. All reported human rights violations in our study occurred during the immediate 12 months before the interview in 2010 and thus fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the ICC. Additionally, our data show that 1,768 attacks were directed against a relatively large body of civilian victims. And although there is no threshold definition of what constitutes widespread, these data provide evidence that these reported abuses occurred on a large scale with numerous victims. Coupled with qualitative information that our team of investigators gathered, this quantitative data reveal patterns of abuse that constitute systematic targeting and executing of human rights violations against an ethnic and religious minority. While our data imply knowledge that would satisfy the third element of the definition of a crime against humanity, further evidence is needed to establish individual culpability. This evidence would likely stem from a U.N. Commission of Inquiry or another thorough investigation..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Physicians for Human Rights
Format/size: pdf (1.5MB - OBL version; (2.63MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/documents/reports/Burma-full-rpt-Chin-state.pdf
Date of entry/update: 22 January 2011

Title: Impunity or Reconciliation in Burma’s Transition
Date of publication: December 2010
Description/subject: Conclusion: "The election process and results demonstrate that Burma’s leadership is committed to maintaining both a formal role for the military in government, with no real checks on its power, as well as a murkier influence through its proxy party, the USDP. This election scenario was predictable. Less so was the reaction that large ceasefire groups had when pressured to transform into border guards. Ceasefire agreements are already breaking down, and the drums of war beat louder. In the often heated debate about the election process, several of the nonestablishment actors encouraged participation in the process as the only pragmatic, albeit severly flawed, path toward democratic transition. Before Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, no viable alternative to this military-dominated road map seemed to be available, and disengaging from the process equated to not doing anything. The possibility of utilizing domestic measures to combat impunity is miniscule, even though substantial, credible evidence shows that war crimes and crimes against humanity have occurred. ictj briefing Impunity or Reconciliation in Burma’s Transition 7 Her release has breathed new life into the many low-profile efforts to develop alternatives to the terms of the military’s tightly controlled transition. Tripartite dialogue may suddenly be back on the table. In one recent interview, the NLD leader stated, “It’s no use saying that you can choose freely between a rock and a hard place. We want meaningful choice.”8 Aung San Suu Kyi is not the only legitimate voice providing a vision for change. But because of her support from the Burmese people and her high profile internationally, she is the only one who seems capable of offering an alternative to the military’s road map. She has captured the imagination of the Burmese and the international community. Because of her legitimacy, her release provides the opportunity to imagine an alternative to the strict terms of transition that the military has insisted on since 1988."
Author/creator: Patrick Pierce
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)
Format/size: pdf (1.7MB - OBL; 2MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ictj.org/static/Publications/ICTJ_MMR_transition_pb2010.pdf
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2010

Date of publication: 28 September 2010
Description/subject: • In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana said that the “gross and systematic” human rights abuses in Burma “were the result of state policy” and recommended that the UN consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry. • Following Ojea Quintana’s recommendation, Australia, the UK, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, the US, Canada, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, and Ireland endorsed the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry on crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. EU and Indonesian MPs also have endorsed the creation of a Commission of Inquiry as well. • Since the publication of the SPDC election laws in March, the regime continued to perpetrate crimes against humanity and war crimes with total impunity. These grave human rights violations underscore the urgent need for a Commission of Inquiry. • A Commission of Inquiry, in addition to opening a door for victims’ rights to truth and justice, also has a preventive value to discourage more crimes from being perpetrated. • In the six-month period between March and August 2010, the following SPDC war crimes/crimes against humanity were documented: **At least 15 extrajudicial killings. **Systematic use of forced labor in ethnic areas. ** Six hundred people were forcibly displaced in military attacks that targeted civilians. ** At least 14 people subjected to arbitrary imprisonment. ** At least eight cases of rape and sexual violence. ** Systematic persecution of Rohingya communities. ** At least two children were recruited as child soldiers, and another child was killed for resisting. • Ongoing military tensions with armed groups, including anger over disenfranchisement of some ethnic groups over the election, has increased the likelihood of escalated armed conflict and related serious crimes after the 7 November polls.
Language: English
Source/publisher: ALTSEAN-Burma
Format/size: pdf (96K)
Date of entry/update: 29 September 2010

Title: Bringing Out the Stick
Date of publication: September 2010
Description/subject: Having failed to induce change in Burma by dangling the carrot of reduced sanctions, the US is now calling for a war crimes investigation of the country’s military rulers... "Diplomatic eyebrows were raised in March when UN Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana issued a report recommending that the UN form an international Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. But other than the UK, Australia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, no country rushed to support the proposal. The silence of the US was particularly deafening, but in August the Obama administration officially threw its support behind a CoI..."
Author/creator: Simon Roughneen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 18, No. 9
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 08 September 2010

Title: Than Shwe in the Hot Seat
Date of publication: September 2010
Description/subject: Burma’s despised despot is on track to face some earthly justice, if the divine variety doesn’t catch up with him first... "Most Burmese regard themselves as fairly devout, regardless of what religion they practice. To some, this might seem like a case of seeking false consolation in the otherworldly. But to my mind, it makes perfectly good sense that Burmese people would want to cling to a belief in some sort of higher order. How else would you keep your sanity in a society so totally devoid of justice? If there is one thought that is likely to put a smile on the face of most Burmese, it is of Than Shwe, their self-appointed master, finally facing the music the moment he shuffles off his mortal coil. Burmese are not vindictive by nature, but they can’t countenance the thought of crimes going unpunished. Justice must be done—if not in the here and now, then in the hereafter. But as a wise man once said, justice must also be seen to be done—and in this respect, religion falls short of satisfying a basic human and social need. That is why news that the Obama administration has decided to back a UN Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into crimes against humanity in Burma has been greeted as a major breakthrough. After decades of living under the rule of ruthless thugs, Burmese now have reason to believe that this long, dark era could one day end in a reckoning for Than Shwe and his enablers..."
Author/creator: Aung Zaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 18, No. 9
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 09 September 2010

Title: The Long Road to The Hague
Date of publication: September 2010
Description/subject: James Ross is the legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch, where he has worked since 2001. In 1991 he wrote the report “Summary Injustice: Military Tribunals in Burma” for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. He spoke with The Irrawaddy about calls for the formation of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma, which has been supported by the US, the UK, Australia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia
Author/creator: James Ross (interview)
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 18, No. 9
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 08 September 2010

Title: Crimes against Humanity in Western Burma: The Situation of the Rohingyas
Date of publication: 16 June 2010
Description/subject: "In August 2008 the Irish Centre for Human Rights received funding from Irish Aid to launch a project on the human rights situation of the Rohingyas/Muslims of Rakhine State in Western Burma/Myanmar. As part of the project a research unit was established at the Irish Centre for Human Rights to carry an open source research and take part in a fact-finding mission and the drafting of a report under the supervision of Prof. William Schabas. In 2009, Nancie Prudhomme (project manager and researcher) and Joseph Powderly (project researcher) undertook a 4-week fact-finding mission to gather more detailed, first-hand and new information about the situation of the Rohingyas in Western Burma. As part of their mission Nancie and Joseph visited Burma and Thailand. In Thailand, they had meetings on the situation of the Rohingya "boat people" pushed back to sea at the beginning of 2009 and on the status of the Rohingya issue within Asia generally and more specifically at the ASEAN level. As part of the fact-finding mission the researchers also spent two weeks in Bangladesh visiting refugee camps and interviewing Rohingya refugees and human rights and humanitarian workers. The researchers were joined in Bangladesh by Mr. John Ralston, Executive Director of the International Institution for Criminal Investigation and former Chief of Investigations at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry for Darfur. The team interviewed Rohingya victims in and around refugee camps in Bangladesh. The mission in Bangladesh provided detailed information on the causes for flight to Bangladesh and the current situation in Western Burma. The report of the Rohingya project was officially launched on June 16 th, 2010 by Micheál Martin, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, at Iveagh House"..... EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "The plight of the Rohingyas has become better known since the start of 2009, in particular because of world-wide media coverage of the case of the so-called “boat people”, consisting of hundreds of Rohingyas who attempted to reach Thailand by boat and were subsequently mistreated there. Despite this new interest in the Rohingya community, very little work has been done to examine the root causes behind their continuous suffering. The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority group residing in North Arakan State in Western Burma. It is estimated that there are approximately 800,000 Rohingyas in Arakan State, and many hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in other countries. There are disputes over the historical records, and whether the Rohingyas are an indigenous group or whether in fact they began entering Burma in the late 19th century. Even the very name ‘Rohingya’ has been disputed. Whatever position is taken on these questions, it is undeniable that the Rohingyas exist, and have done so for decades, as a significant minority group in North Arakan State. For many years, the Rohingyas have been enduring human rights abuses. These violations are on-going and in urgent need of attention and redress. Irish Aid provided funding for independent research to be conducted by the Irish Centre for Human Rights on the situation of the Rohingyas. The content and views expressed in the resulting Report by the Irish Centre for Human Rights are entirely those of the authors. This Report is based on a fact-finding mission to the region, including Burma, as well as on extensive open-source research, and confidential meetings with organisations working in the region. Much of the most important information came from the many interviews conducted with Rohingya individuals in and around refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they were able to speak more freely than they can in Burma itself about the violations they had endured and which had caused them to flee their homes. The Report examines the situation of the Rohingyas through the lens of crimes against humanity. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and international criminal law jurisprudence, especially that of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, are used to provide detailed and clear legal foundations for the examination. As becomes evident in the individual chapters, there is a strong prima facie case for determining that crimes against humanity are being committed against the Rohingyas of North Arakan State in Burma..."
Author/creator: Nancie Prudhomme, Joseph Powderly, John Ralston...Supervised by Prof. William Schabas (
Language: English
Source/publisher: Irish Centre for Human Rights
Format/size: pdf (2.2MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.nuigalway.ie/human_rights/documents/ichr_rohingya_report_2010.pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 June 2010

Date of publication: April 2010
Description/subject: â€¢ Since the publication of our briefer “International crimes in Burma: the urgent need for a Commission of Inquiry,” in October 2009 the SPDC has continued to commit crimes against its own people. • In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana said that the “gross and systematic” human rights abuses in Burma “were the result of state policy” and recommended that the UN consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry. • In the first three months of 2010, the SPDC continued to perpetrate crimes against humanity and war crimes with total impunity, highlighting the urgent need for a UN Security Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. • In the three-month period, the following SPDC war crimes/crimes against humanity were documented: *At least nine victims of extrajudicial killings. * At least four instances of forced labor. * An additional 4,100 people were forcibly displaced in military attacks that targeted civilians. * At least 11 people subjected to arbitrary imprisonment. * The continued use of torture. * At least one case of rape and sexual violence. * Systematic and widespread persecution of Muslim Rohingya communities. * At least two children were recruited as child soldiers.
Language: English
Source/publisher: ALTSEAN-Burma
Format/size: pdf (126K)
Date of entry/update: 21 April 2010

Title: BURMA, An International Commission of Inquiry more urgent than ever
Date of publication: 12 August 2009
Description/subject: "In an advocacy note released today, FIDH, BLC and Altsean-Burma demonstrate that the widespread and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law documented by numerous Burmese, regional and international NGOs and UN mechanisms over the past years amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. FIDH, BLC and Altsean-Burma therefore call for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the UN Security Council... Our objective in this briefing note is to present an overview of existing documentation on serious human rights violations perpetrated by Burma’s military regime, and demonstrate that international crimes have been – and are still being – perpetrated in Burma with total impunity. The violations and the relevant international crimes are analyzed and legally defined under the scope of Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The documentation provided in this briefing note is not intended to be exhaustive. It is, however, sufficient to show that there is clear ground for further investigation. Based on existing findings, FIDH, ALTSEAN-Burma, and BLC are calling for the establishment of an international Commission of Inquiry mandated by the United Nations Security Council to investigate: allegations of crimes against humanity; war crimes committed against ethnic nationalities in Eastern Burma; and other widespread and systematic human rights violations perpetrated in other regions of Burma that may constitute crimes against humanity..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: â€“ FIDH / ALTSEAN-Burma / BLC
Format/size: pdf (3.62MB - original; 2.7MB - reduced)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs07/FIDH-BLC-Altsean-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 12 August 2009

Title: Crimes in Burma
Date of publication: 21 May 2009
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Burma has been facing a grave human rights situation for years. Many of the organs of the United Nations have repeatedly denounced the ruling military regime for failing to cooperate with the international community and to take serious steps to end the ongoing grave violations of international law. In light of the seriousness of allegations concerning the destruction or displacement of more than 3,000 villages (more than the number relocated in Darfur), this report set out to review UN documentation of reports of human rights and humanitarian law violations in Burma. Specifically, the report sought to evaluate the extent to which UN institutions have knowledge of reported abuses occurring in the country that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country. The report finds that UN bodies have indeed consistently acknowledged abuses and used legal terms associated with these international crimes, including for example that violations have been widespread, systematic, or part of a state policy. This finding necessitates more concerted UN action. In particular, despite the recognition of the existence of these violations by many UN organs, to date, the Security Council has failed to act to ensure accountability and justice. In light of more than fifteen years of condemnation from UN bodies for human rights abuses in Burma, the Security Council should institute a Commission of Inquiry to investigate grave crimes that have been committed in the country. This report evaluates Burma’s breaches in light of the Rome Statute, which provides one of the available sets of international criminal standards. Part I of the report provides a brief history of Burma. Part II summarizes the applicable international criminal law under the Rome Statute. Part III traces the discussion in UN documents of grave human rights and humanitarian violations identified as occurring in eastern Burma since 2002. In this geographic sampling, the report details forced displacement, sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, and torture, especially against ethnic nationalities though the UN documents chronicle many other severe violations as well. The recent temporal focus was chosen because it is most relevant to the Rome Statute. Part IV identifies precedents for further UN action from its response to other humanitarian crises in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Part V presents the report’s conclusions. Findings: Findings In light of the repeated and consistent reports of widespread human rights violations in Burma outlined in UN documents, there is a prima facie case of international criminal law violations occurring that demands UN Security Council action to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these grave breaches further..."
Author/creator: Judge Richard Goldstone (South Africa), Judge Patricia Wald (United States), Judge Pedro Nikken (Venezuela), Judge Ganzorig Gombosuren (Mongolia) and Sir Geoffrey Nice (United Kingom).
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Human Rights Clinic @ Harvard Law School
Format/size: pdf (636K)
Date of entry/update: 21 May 2009

Date of publication: March 2009
Description/subject: "The backdrop of a Security Council referral under Chapter VII to the ICC are the ongoing systematic crimes against the people of Burma, including but not limited to extrajudicial killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence persistently carried out by members of the military regime. These crimes have been documented in all 31 United Nations Resolutions on Burma and in the reports of all 8 United Nations Envoys, which called upon the regime to end impunity. Yet, the military regime has ignored United Nations recommendations most of which include a call for an independent investigation of crimes such as the Depayin massacre, the monks killed in October 2007, the rapes by the military of ethnic women and have called for an end to the arbitrary jailing of Aung San Sui Kyi. Further, because the people of Burma have no access to a suitable judicial system, the ICC is the only avenue for bringing offenders to justice. In Burma there is no separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches of government. In fact, the junta uses the judiciary as one of its key weapons to commit crimes. For example, in November 2008, certain judges acting under the orders of Chief Justice U Aung Toe and Senior General Than Shwe convicted 280 political activists and issued sentences ranging from 4 to 104 years in prison.i The judges did not allow defendants to question prosecution witnesses, many defendants did not have legal representation and those that did were not permitted to meet with their lawyers in private. United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana said in reference to these convictions that, “There is no independent and impartial judiciary system [in Burma].”ii The ICC was created to intervene in situations when the countries themselves are unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute. Under the current conditions in Burma, one would be hard pressed to argue that the judiciary is at all capable of prosecuting those responsible for the atrocities perpetrated by the regime..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Lawyers' Council, Global Justice Center
Format/size: pdf (99K)
Date of entry/update: 10 March 2009

Title: After the Storm: Voices from the Delta
Date of publication: 27 February 2009
Description/subject: An independent, community-based assessment of health and human rights in the Cyclone Nargis response...DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: "To date, this report is the only community-based independent assessment of the Nargis response conducted by relief workers operating free of SPDC control. Using participatory methods and operating without the knowledge or consent of the Burmese junta or its affiliated institutions, this report brings forward the voices of those working “on the ground” and of survivors in the Cyclone Nargis-affected areas of Burma. The data reveal systematic obstruction of relief aid, willful acts of theft and sale of relief supplies, forced relocation, and the use of forced labor for reconstruction projects, including forced child labor. The slow distribution of aid, the push to hold the referendum vote, and the early refusal to accept foreign assistance are evidence of the junta’s primary concerns for regime survival and political control over the well-being of the Burmese people. These EAT findings are evidence of multiple human rights violations and the abrogation of international humanitarian relief norms and international legal frameworks for disaster relief. They may constitute crimes against humanity, violating in particular article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and a referral for investigation by the International Criminal Court should be made by the United Nations Security Council".
Author/creator: Voravit Suwanvanichkij, Mahn Mahn, Cynthia Maung, Brock Daniels, Noriyuki Murakami, Andrea Wirtz, Chris Beyrer
Language: English
Source/publisher: Emergency Assistance Team (EAT BURMA), Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Format/size: pdf (1.57MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWFiles2009.nsf/FilesByRWDocUnidFilename/ASAZ-7PRKLM-full_report.pdf/$File/full_report.pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 November 2010

Title: Crimes against humanity in eastern Myanmar
Date of publication: 05 June 2008
Description/subject: "For two and a half years, a military offensive by the Myanmar army, known as the tatmadaw, has been waged against ethnic Karen civilians in Kayin (Karen) State and Bago (Pegu) Division, involving a widespread and systematic violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. These violations constitute crimes against humanity. Unlike previous counter-insurgency campaigns against the Karen National Union (KNU) and its armed wing (the Karen National Liberation Army, KNLA) for nearly 60 years, the current offensive has civilians as the primary targets. The current operation is the largest in a decade and is unique in that, unlike previous seasonal operations that have generally ended at the start of the yearly rains between May and October, this offensive has continued through two consecutive rainy seasons and shows no signs of stopping as a third season is underway. 2 An estimated 147,800 people are reported to have been, and remain, internally displaced in Kayin State and eastern Bago Division. Many of them have also been subjected to other widespread and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including unlawful killings; torture and other illtreatment; enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests; the imposition of forced labour, including portering; the destruction of homes and whole villages; and the destruction or confiscation of crops and food-stocks and other forms of collective punishment. Civilian Karen villagers told Amnesty International of living in fear for their lives, dignity, and property, after having been subjected to or witnessed torture, extrajudicial executions, forced labour and destruction of homes. Such violations were described as directed at civilians, simply on account of their Karen ethnicity or location in Karen majority areas, or retribution for activities by the KNLA. Amnesty International has documented how these violations of international human rights and humanitarian law have been preceded or accompanied by consistent threats and warnings by the tatmadaw that they would take place, and by statements by Myanmar government officials. The organization is thus concerned that the violations are the result of official State Peace and Development Council (SPDC, the Myanmar government) and tatmadaw policy. Moreover, the tatmadaw apparently enjoys impunity for violations committed against Karen civilians. The prevailing impunity for such crimes, with a lack of avenues for redress for victims, has contributed to Myanmar’s ongoing human rights crisis. Crimes against humanity are certain acts that, committed in times of war or peace, form part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population. According to Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, acts—including murder, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, and other inhumane acts—may constitute crimes against humanity “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack …” This definition reflects customary international law binding on all states, regardless of whether or not they are parties to the Statute..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Amnesty International (ASA 16/011/2008)
Format/size: pdf (505K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA16/011/2008/en/d80827f1-3248-11dd-adb0-a55f274f1a5a/asa1...
Date of entry/update: 06 March 2009

Title: Dying Alive - A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma
Date of publication: April 2005
Description/subject: AN INVESTIGATION AND LEGAL ASSESSMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS INFLICTED IN BURMA, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE INTERNALLY DISPLACED, EASTERN PEOPLES..."For over a decade, the United Nations and Human Rights organisations have documented systematic and widespread human rights violations inflicted on the people of Burma generally, and on the ethnic people in particular. Most reports, however, with the exception of some references to Article Three of The Geneva Conventions, have refrained from conceptualizing the violations in terms of International Humanitarian Law. This report addresses that gap and, in the aftermath of the State organised ambush of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's convoy on May 30, 2003; the ongoing, widespread, systematic destruction of substantial parts of the eastern ethnic peoples; and the failure to end impunity, recommends a period of consultation, education and consensus building to explore the practicality, political appropriateness, and morality of applying and enforcing relevant International Humanitarian Law. This report analyses the human rights violations, identified by, amongst others, UN Special Rapporteurs for human rights and Amnesty International, and expressed in UN General Assembly Resolutions, that have been inflicted on the people of Burma for decades..." NOTE ON FORMAT: There is a glitch in the CD the online version is based on, with lines from the next page creeping onto the current page. This will be fixed eventually. There is also a plan to break the text up into managable chunks.
Author/creator: Guy Horton
Language: English
Source/publisher: Guy Horton, Images Asia
Format/size: pdf (4.7MB)
Date of entry/update: 03 May 2006

Title: Unspeakable Crimes
Date of publication: September 2003
Description/subject: "Burma’s rulers need to be brought to account before they commit more political crimes and human rights abuses..." Two months after the May 30 ambush on political activists and leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), the human rights group Amnesty International called on Burma’s military regime to bring the culprits to justice and permit an independent and impartial investigation. Amnesty said, "The events of 30 May show all too clearly the need for accountability and an end to impunity in Myanmar [Burma]." Other human rights organizations and several foreign governments also called Burma to answer. Burma’s military regime, however, remains mute, ignoring pressure from abroad while claiming they arrested pro-democracy supporters, including NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Vice Chairman Tin Oo, for the sake of stability in the country..."
Author/creator: Thar Nyunt Oo
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 11, No. 7
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 06 November 2003

Title: Preliminary Report of the Ad hoc Commission on Depayin Massacre
Date of publication: 04 July 2003
Description/subject: "The National Council of the Union of Burma and the Burma Lawyers' Council have formed a commission on June 25, 2003 to jointly deal with the alleged assassination attempt against the leaders of the National League for Democracy, including Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, with the following programmes: The Title of the Commission - The commission will be entitled as the Ad hoc Commission on Depayin Massacre (Burma). Aim - (1) To find out the truth on the Depayin Massacre; (2) To facilitate the struggle of people, based on legal affairs, both inside Burma and in the international community, in connection with the Depayin Massacre; Programme Objectives - (1) To exert efforts to lodge a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the event that it has jurisdiction over the Depayin Massacre case; (2) To lodge a complaint or complaints with other courts in the international community including the International Criminal Tribunal to be possibly established by the United Nations Security Council if the first objective is not possible; (3) To cooperate with the people inside Burma and the international community for the emergence of an official independent investigation commission in order to find out the truth on Depayin Massacre... Contents: ... Formation of Ad hoc Commission on Depayin Massacrr; Explanatory Statement of the Ad hoc Commission; Brief Background of Depayin Massacre; Depayin Massacre; Affidavits of the Eyewitnesses; SPDC’s Press Conference; Victims of Depayin Massacre (Pictures); Appendix I - Interview with Zaw Zaw Aung 50; Appendix II - Statement of Ko Aung Aung from Democratic Party for a New Society; Appendix III - The list of the vitims of Depayin Massacre.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Ad hoc Commission on Depayin Massacre
Format/size: pdf (1.2MB) 58 pages
Date of entry/update: 17 July 2003