Testimony at the UN

Speech before UN Human Rights Council resumed 6th Session
12 December 2007

Delivered by Ophélie Namiech, UN Watch Legacy Heritage Fellow

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Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch commends Special Rapporteur Paulo Pinheiro for his latest report, which documents the shocking crimes against peaceful protesters that were committed in September of this year by the military regime in Burma.

Among other things the report finds:

  • That the authorities have been covering up the true death toll;
  • That the three thousand people arrested by the government included children and pregnant women;
  • That the government used torture, with at least 14 individuals dying in custody, including 8 monks and 1 young boy.

The report also showed how, over the years, the denial of basic civil and political rights compromised the standard of living of the population, by denying the emergence of a platform for genuine public dialogue, where people could share their concerns over their increasing lack of access to job opportunities and basic social services, including health and food.

UN Watch supports a strong resolution that will call upon the authorities in Burma:

  • To release without delay all who were arrested in the recent peaceful protests;
  • To lift all restraints on peaceful political activity, and guarantee the freedoms of speech, assembly, and association; and
  • To commit to democracy and the establishment of the rule of law.

Mr. President, the victims of this regime include pregnant women, little children, monks and nuns. By brutal repression the authorities seek to crush the spirit of their own people.

But that spirit is still alive. As Mr. Pinheiro reported, on 26 November, more than 25 women activists showed great personal courage when they paraded in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It was the first public display of opposition to the military regime since the September crackdown.

Just when the regime believed it had extinguished every last candle of freedom in Burma, these women lit some more.

One day, Mr. President, these little candles will become a torch.

One day, the flame of freedom will light the darkness for the great people of Burma.

One day, Aung San Suu Kyi—and all political prisoners—will be free.

Let us commit ourselves to act—so that this day comes very soon.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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