Friday, June 29, 2007

Burma Shaved

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday accused Myanmar's ruling junta of committing serious abuses against detainees and civilians, in a rare public censure from the humanitarian agency.
The Swiss-based ICRC, which normally deals with governments under a cloak of confidentiality, said thousands of prisoners in former Burma were forced to work as porters for the military, carrying heavy materials and walking ahead of soldiers through areas laden with landmines.
People living near Myanmar's border with Thailand have also been subjected to systematic human rights violations, the ICRC said, citing witness reports of soldiers destroying villages' food stocks, forcing people from their homes, making arbitrary arrests and committing violence including murder.
"The ICRC has repeatedly drawn attention to these abuses but the authorities have failed to put a stop to them," ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said. "The continuing deadlock with the authorities has led the ICRC to take the exceptional step of making its concerns public."
The neutral organisation, mandated to monitor compliance with international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, makes such denunciations extremely sparingly.
It has previously aired concerns over violations in Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia, in 1979; during the Iran-Iraq war in 1987; in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992; in Rwanda in 1994; and in Israel in 2004 over the West Bank Barrier's routing.
Amazing it takes an awful lot for the Red Cross to break their ultra polite and discreet silence and go outside of internal political channels. About time.
Meanwhile there are a slew of Amnesty bulletins:

Amnesty International today called on the guerrilla groups Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) to immediately and unconditionally release all civilians they have abducted.

The call comes after the FARC published a press release in which the guerrilla group claimed that 11 of the 12 deputies from the Valle del Cauca departmental Assembly, kidnapped by the FARC since April 2002 – had been killed in crossfire last 18 June.

Amnesty International
is calling on Iran's judicial and political authorities to order an immediate moratorium to prevent further executions of child offenders and to amend the laws so no children who commit crimes can be sentenced to death. In a new report, the organization said at least 71 child offenders were awaiting execution in Iran, where more child offenders have been executed than in any other country since 1990.

Amnesty International today called on the Guinean authorities to take immediate measures to stop security forces from using excessive force against unarmed civilians in policing operations. The organization also called on the government to provide judicial and material reparations to the families of over 130 killed and to the more than 1,500 injured during weeks of violent repression of mainly peaceful protests in January and February 2007.

One of the largest populations of internally displaced people per capita in the world faces discrimination, segregation and an uncertain future, according to a new report released by Amnesty International today. Some 600,000 Azerbaijanis have lived in internal displacement for over a decade as a result of the conflict between Armenians and Azeris for Nagorny Karabakh, a territory within Azerbaijan populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, between 1991 and 1994.

Although minimum essential levels of human rights have been provided for by the Azerbaijani government, with international assistance, Amnesty International is concerned that current measures are not adequate to provide for the progressive realization of human rights in a context of long-term displacement.

More at news.amnesty.org