Setting the Bar

With Secretary Clinton landing in Burma on Thursday, there has been a flurry of activity from many human rights organizations and Congressional Representatives pushing Clinton to not forget the ongoing conflict and abuses happening in Burma.

Yesterday, USCB and 11 other respected human rights organizations and one individual in the United States sent an open letter to Secretary Clinton strongly urging her to prioritize securing an end to the egregious crimes against humanity the Burmese Army continues to commit against ethnic minority civilians during her trip.

Furthermore, the Women’s League of Burma, an umbrella organization of women’s groups in Burma also sent a letter to President Clinton, urging her to demand an end to sexual violence against women.

“The Women’s League of Burma and our member organizations have documented 81 rape cases since March of this year when Thein Sein took the presidency in Burma and among them 36 women were killed.  Human rights abuses in Burma are prevalent because of the culture of impunity put in place at the highest levels of government. The Burmese regime continuously fails to investigate human rights abuses committed by its military and instead categorically denies the possibility that abuses are taking place”

To see the rest of the pre-trip activity check here. We will also be posting the latest information about Secretary Clinton’s trip.

While the regime is hoping this trip will bring them legitimacy and build their relationship with a strong international power (especially one that is not China) – we hope that this trip will be a key time for the U.S. to push for real lasting change in Burma.

This loud call from American civil society and government leaders has set the bar for this trip. Secretary Clinton must push for:

– The release of all political prisoners.

– A cessation of attacks against ethnic minorities

– Genuine dialogue of national reconciliation.

If the regime is sincere then they will take concerted steps to meet these crucial benchmarks. With new reports coming out that declare the conflict in Kachin State to “potentially amount to war crimes” the time is now to push the regime to stop these atrocities and put Burma on a better path. [Read the new report from Partners Relief and Development with documentation from their recent fact-finding trip to Kachin areas. Careful though, the photos are graphic]

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