BURMA: Ad Hoc Commission into Burma massacre adds to pressure on Security Council

Two months after the brutal attack on the National League for Democracy convoy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo at Depayin, northern Burma, both leaders remain under detention, while arrests and disappearances continue. To date, the actual number of victims killed or injured, captured or missing remains a mystery to all except perhaps the perpetrators, who continue to enjoy absolute impunity.

In response, the Burma Lawyers’ Council and National Council of the Union of Burma have jointly established the Ad Hoc Commission on the Depayin Massacre, to collect evidence and establish whether or not the incident amounts to a crime against humanity. While the Commission’s work is far from complete, the material it has collected to date confirms that an organized and premeditated crime was committed at Depayin, not merely civil unrest between opposing groups of civilians, as claimed by the military government.

In an earlier statement, the Asian Human Rights Commission insisted that the UN Security Council set up an independent tribunal to investigate this atrocity (6 June 2003), a call that has since been echoed by the UN Secretary-General and some US senators. The work of the Ad Hoc Commission will only build pressure on the Security Council for active and immediate intervention.

Why must the Security Council intervene? Firstly, because although they are useful expressions of international sentiment, bans and economic embargoes alone will not resolve the crisis in Burma. Secondly, efforts at compromise with the military rulers of Burma will likewise be protracted and fruitless exercises in confused diplomacy, as they have been in the past. Meanwhile, the lives of thousands of political detainees hang in the balance, while the people of Burma continue to experience daily grinding hunger and man-made poverty.

The Security Council has the power to intervene in Burma; what it needs is only the will to do so. The Depayin massacre must be investigated as a crime against humanity without further delay. This is the first step required of the international community to bring about an end to military rule in Burma. Nothing short of it will suffice.

Asian Human Rights Commission – AHRC, Hong Kong

See further: “Attack on democratic party in Burma demands an uncompromising international response”, 6 June 2003, AS-19-03,¬†http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2003statement/105/

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-27-2003
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),