An August 13 media release by the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF), the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), and the Shan Relief and Development Committee (SRDC) described the Burmese junta’s renewed scorched earth campaign in the Shan State. The military campaign, which began on July 27, has displaced 10,000 ethnic Shan villagers. The junta’s soldiers have torched over 500 houses and 40 villages, and arrested and tortured 100 civilians. The junta’s campaign of atrocity continues, despite condemnations from international human rights organizations and limited warnings from China, which shares a southern border with the Shan State.
The Shan State, the Economist magazine reported in 2005, remains under China’s sphere of influence in Southeast Asia. According to the article, “[a]round 350,000 Chinese tourists visit every year to gamble, frequent the massage parlours, and perhaps take in a Thai transvestite show.” Additionally, about 10,000 Kokang and Chinese refugees crossed into China from the Shan State after the Burmese junta’s escalated military operation against the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). The junta’s scorched earth campaign remains an important security concern for China, and therefore a viable opportunity for the international community to press the Burmese junta to end its human rights violations in the Shan State.
On his recent and controversial diplomatic trip to Southeast Asia, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) underscored China’s importance in pressing for a change in Burma’s behavior. The international community’s efforts to end the junta’s war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Shan State, the Karen State, and other Burmese regions of concern can only be effective with China’s assistance. Human Rights Watch has called for a UN committee of inquiry to investigate the regime’s war crimes in the Shan State. ALTSEAN Burma, a network of human rights organizations based in ASEAN member states, has issued a similar plea. Prosecution before an international war-crimes tribunal may be the most effective method of ending impunity over the regime’s various crimes against civilians in ethnic minority regions.
Effective action by the UN Security Council requires the cooperation of China, which possesses a veto on the Security Council. The international community should take advantage of the opportunity for action presented by China’s security concerns in the Shan State, and press the Chinese regime to cooperate in establishing a committee of inquiry into the regime’s crimes.
Sign the petition from Avaaz to call on the UN Security Council to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in ethnic minority regions and push the Burmese military junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi. We must hold the regime accountable for its violation of international human rights law and infringement on democracy.
Take action by signing the petition.