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Ambassador Donahoe’s Statement on the UPR Working Group Intervention for Burma
January 27, 2011

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human RIghts Council (UNHRC) Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe explains the importance of the UNHRC's periodic review of human rights in Burma, and expresses the ongoing deep concern of the US about the human rights situation in Burma. Watch the video

Remarks by the Delegation of the United States of America

UPR Working Group Intervention for Burma, 10th Session

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Delivered by the U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

Ambassador Eileen C. Donahoe

The United States welcomes the Burmese delegation to the UPR Working Group, but we remain deeply concerned about the very poor state of human rights in your country. While the United States welcomes the long overdue release of Aung San Suu Kyi, she should never have been detained in the first place. We strongly condemn the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and express grave concern at the continued detention of more than 2,100 political prisoners.

The United States is deeply disappointed in the November 7 elections, which were neither free nor fair, and failed to meet internationally recognized standards. The elections were based on a severely flawed process, repressed fundamental freedoms, and ensured the continued dominance of the military regime’s current leaders. The elections cannot be considered credible – given unfair electoral laws, an overtly partisan election commission, and the fact that political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were denied the opportunity to participate.

Critics of the government are at risk of harassment, arbitrary arrest, torture, imprisonment, and even extrajudicial killing, notwithstanding statements in your national report discussing freedom of expression and assembly. Further, while your national report asserts fair treatment of prisoners, according to independent reports there were hundreds of cases of torture of political prisoners.

We are concerned at the continuing human rights violations affecting ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya, who, as Special Rapporteur Quintana noted, faced systematic discrimination. Ethnic minorities in particular face forced labor, sexual violence, and restrictions on movement and association.

Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States would like to make the following four recommendations to the Government:

1. To immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and to allow the ICRC unrestricted access to the remaining prisoners;

2. To take immediate steps to end continuing violations of international human rights law;

3. To immediately end violence and discrimination against members of ethnic and religious minorities, grant full citizenship rights to Rohingyas, and end sexual violence committed against ethnic minority women; and

4. To recognize the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s pre-election registration status and to begin a dialogue of national reconciliation with the NLD and other ethnic and democratic actors in the country.