Thursday, October 11, 2007

As the Torturing Continues, UNSC adopts weak statement


In addition to accounts of the junta cremating protestors dead and alive, The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) has reported deplorable conditions of prison cells and the use of torture against 88 Generation leaders, monks, and civilian dissidents held in detention centers. According to The Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based radio station run by dissident journalist, because of torture, poor jail conditions, and the refusal of medical attention, detained protestors are dying in custody. The report HERE. U Than Aung and a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party, Win Shwe (story HERE), are two of the dozens to have died in detention, claim opposition groups. Another report, by Reuters, HERE.

Moreover, the junta has denied the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detention centers to observe prison conditions and give medical aid.

In response to the military's violent use of force, today, the UN Security Council has issued a nonbinding "Presidential Statement," however, the spirit of the document may have been compromised by softening the language in order to placate China. While this marks an initial step by the UNSC to bring positive change to Burma, many pro-democracy groups are waiting for global concerns to be translated into concrete actions. With the exception of the US, economic and diplomatic sanctions--which China, India, and Japan do not support--have not been implemented (story HERE).

from CNN:
A compromise statement approved Thursday by all 15 U.N. Security Council members -- including close Myanmar ally China -- emphasized "the importance of the early release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees."

The United States, Britain and France proposed a stronger text that would have condemned the violence and called for the immediate release of the political prisoners and detainees, singling out the detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But the text was watered down to get approval from China.

The council statement was read at a formal meeting shortly after the U.N. announced that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was sending his special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, back to the region next week for consultations with key governments on international efforts to promote talks between the government and the opposition.

The United States and other countries have pushed for international sanctions, but China said that only a more conciliatory approach would work.

"We believe that the situation there is relaxing and turning in a positive direction," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. "The international community should help in a constructive way to help Myanmar to realize stability, reconciliation, democracy and development."

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