Burma: United Nations must intervene urgently to avert bloodshed

“Appalling” human rights record condemned

Amnesty international has today (26 September 2007) called for the United Nations to urgently intervene in the growing crisis in Burma, including by sending a delegation to the troubled country.

Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan said:

"The high risk of a crackdown against the demonstrators makes it imperative for the international community to act urgently. The military government in Burma must be told in no uncertain terms that there will be dire costs if they repeat the violent repression of 1988.

“The demonstrators in Burma have the right to peacefully express their opinion and the Burmese government has a duty to fully respect this right.

"China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a government with political influence over Burma, has a critical role to play. So do ASEAN countries, Japan and India.”

In particular, Amnesty International is calling on the United Nations Security Council to immediately send a mission to Burma. The intervention is being urged to help resolve Burma’s human rights crisis and avert the risk of violence and bloodshed. The mission, Amnesty International believes, should also discuss with the Burmese authorities a resolution to the long-standing human rights problems in the country including the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

Amnesty International has long documented Burma’s appalling human rights record, which includes widespread and systematic human rights violations. These include:

* The holding of more than 1,160 political prisoners in deteriorating prison conditions. Detainees include most senior opposition figures

* The use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, especially during interrogation and pre-trial detention

* The use of child soldiers and forced labour

* Laws that criminalise the peaceful expression of political dissent

* People frequently being arrested without warrant and held incommunicado

* Judicial proceedings against political detainees that fall short of international fair trial standards

* Defendants being denied the right to legal counsel and prosecutors relying on confessions extracted through torture

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