Burma in the Hot Seat: Facing the UN Human Rights Council

Tomorrow, Burma will face the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva for a Universal Periodic Review (UPR)– the first time the nation has ever done so. A UPR is required every four years by UN member states in order to ascertain progress on human rights conditions in each country. Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win will submit the nation’s report for review by the UN council.

Burma has long been criticized for its systematic abuse of its people, and the military regime is infamous for its brutality. Despite claims from the junta that it is making efforts at inhibiting the spread of problems such as child soldiers, the few committees formed to deal with these issues have done little-to-nothing since their inception. The junta has also impeded UN efforts to monitor the child soldier situation.

“UN member states must not mistake rhetoric for improvement,” urges Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Alongside the child soldier issue, the junta is accused of a laundry list of human rights abuses against civilians: forced labor, beatings, sexual assault, forced relocation, extrajudicial killings, not to mention the nearly 2,200 political prisoners still behind bars where they are tortured and denied health services.

Rights groups from around the globe will be monitoring the review and urging the UN to take action for real change and not to be timid in their criticism of repressive regimes such as Burma.

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