Today and tomorrow

Today is (or will be, or was, depending on where you live and how you live days of prayer) the Global Day of Prayer for Burma.

The timing is not bad, tomorrow the significant United Nations Human Rights Council, questions the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in “Myanmar”. It is high time the nations of the world united to condemn clearly and unequivocally the “widespread and systematic human rights violations” in the country.

The situation is well-known, if little talked about.

  • Nearly 2,200 political prisoners (mostly prisoners of conscience)
  • Censorship and  restrictions on freedom of expression, not least deliberate policy to make mobile phones inaccessible and Internet only through Junta-owned suppliers
  • Ethnic minorities – including their civilian populations subject to forced labour, their villages and crops burned, wives and daughters raped by soldiers apparently without consequence
  • Teenagers (even young kids barely into their teens) abducted and forced to become “soldiers”
  • The list goes non and on…

The Junta refuses  to accept, let alone follow recommendations from the  international community to improve this situation.

Amnesty International put it like this:

The government rejected a massive total of 70 recommendations made during the UPR session, which urged Burma, among other things, to release political prisoners; to repeal national legislation that grants impunity to state officials for human rights violations or penalises peaceful dissent; to end discrimination against ethnic minorities; to investigate and punish cases of intimidation, torture and enforced disappearance; to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detention facilities; and to reform the judiciary to ensure its independence and impartiality.

Burma’s negative response to these recommendations starkly illustrated the government’s absence of political will to acknowledge its serious human rights failings, and strongly suggested its unwillingness to provide effective redress for human rights violations.

Echoing key recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur, Amnesty International calls on all Human Rights Council member and observer states to urge the Burmese authorities to:

  • immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience;
  • halt all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law;
  • remove all provisions in the Constitution that exempt state officials from prosecution for past human rights violations, and provide full information on measures taken to investigate allegations of human rights violations;
  • facilitate independent, impartial, and thorough investigations of all allegations of serious human rights violations; prosecute alleged perpetrators, irrespective of rank or status, in fair proceedings; and provide adequate reparations to victims in accordance with international standards; and
  • amend or repeal all legislation which fails to meet international human rights standards, including the 1982 Law on Citizenship, which denies the Rohingyas the right to citizenship.

Amnesty International also calls on all Human Rights Council member and observer states to:

  • support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur;
  • advance the Special Rapporteur’s previous recommendation that an international Commission of Inquiry be established to investigate credible allegations of grave international crimes in Burma.

So, if you are the praying sort, pray that either the UN will find it’s backbone, and the delegates will learn to empathise with the people of Burma, or that in some other way God intervene so that this sad country can live in peace and with justice!

Of course, we don’t stop praying for the people of Japan, and a dozen other places where sadness reigns because of natural catastrophe, and human sin. But equally praying for them ought not to excuse us from sparing a moment today (or tomorrow) for the Global Day of Prayer for Burma!

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