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U.S. Statement on Burma Special Rapporteur’s Report at Human Rights Council
March 13, 2008

Human Rights Council 7th Session

U.S. Statement on Burma Special Rapporteur’s Report – Interactive Dialogue

Delivered by Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva

Thank you, Mr. President.

My government appreciates the most recent report of the Special Rapporteur for Burma and expresses our serious concern for the ongoing human rights situation there.

The Special Rapporteur was permitted to visit Burma in November 2007, albeit under constrained circumstances. Unfortunately, the regime refuses to permit the follow-up visit that this Council directed through its resolution in December. Nor has the regime responded to Prof. Pinheiro’s correspondence regarding alleged detentions, killings, and forced disappearances. As the Special Rapporteur has indicated in his most recent report dated March 7, 2008, the Than Shwe regime continues to arrest pro-democracy activists and others who advocate for greater freedom and respect for human rights. In this environment of pervasive fear and intimidation, the regime has announced plans to hold a referendum in May 2008 on a constitution drafted by a hand-picked committee that excluded participation by the democratic opposition and ethnic minority groups. The U.S. believes that the referendum must be conducted in an open and transparent manner with independent domestic and international observers. The international community and this body have repeatedly called for the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, so that true dialogue and national reconciliation can begin. In an objective and fact-based manner, Special Rapporteur Pinheiro has compiled important evidence of human rights violations for which the Burmese junta must be held accountable. We commend his efforts and underscore the importance of this mandate as Professor Pinheiro ends his term.

It is incumbent upon this body to support the Special Rapporteur mandate, which not only shines light on human rights violations but also offers recommendations and hope to improve the situations of the Burmese people whose rights are violated.

Thank you, Mr. President.