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Burma Faces First-Ever Review of Human Rights Record at United Nations

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Burma Faces First-Ever Review of Human Rights Record at United Nations

Burma’s human rights record will come under scrutiny at the United Nations in the country’s first Universal Periodic Review.

According to a news release from human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the organization along with representatives from the Burma Forum on the Universal Periodic Review (BF-UPR), a coalition of fourteen human rights and civil society organizations, will host a public event on Jan. 27 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. That will immediately following the UPR session.

The UPR operates under the UN Human Rights Council. It involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN members once every four years.

CSW said the UPR will provide a unique opportunity for the international community to put pressure on the military regime in Burma to reform, as well as cooperate with international human rights agreements.

According to CSW, despite the release from house arrest of pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Nov. 13 2010, the military regime in Burma has formed a new parliament and introduced a new constitution based on the results of rigged elections on Nov. 7.

There were also reports, CSW said, of widespread intimidation and harassment. Military offensives against the Karen people in eastern Burma intensified immediately after the elections, forcing thousands to flee to the border with Thailand.

CSW said the regime has continued its brutal campaign of oppression against its citizens using tactics such as forced labor, torture, arbitrary detention and rape as a weapon of war. The new constitution, drafted in a process that excluded Burma’s democracy movement and ethnic non-ceasefire groups, provides the military with immunity for its crimes and places the army above the law.

CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said in a news release, “Burma’s military regime has one of the world’s worst human rights records, and stands accused of crimes against humanity. We urge the UPR Working Group to examine the evidence submitted during the review process, hold the regime accountable and urge the regime to make significant changes.”

He added, “In particular, we hope the UPR Working Group will ask the regime to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities … amend its Constitution to provide protection for human rights and end impunity, cease its offensives against the ethnic nationalities, end the use of forced labor and rape as a weapon of war, tackle the issue of human trafficking, and sign key international human rights documents such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Rogers concluded, “This is a rare opportunity to send a strong message to the regime in Burma, which must not be lost.”

CSW is a UK-based human rights advocacy organization specializing in religious freedom, working on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promoting religious liberty for everyone.

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Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Now You See Me." Additional details on some of Reynalds' previous books are available at http://www.HomelessBook.com. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@comcast.net.

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