British MP's accuse junta of crimes against humanity

May 8, 2009 (DVB), Over 60 British Members of Parliament, including two former Foreign Office ministers, have called for a United Nations commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity in Burma.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by John Bercow MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma, urges the UN to act on the campaign of ethnic cleansing that the ruling State Peace and Development Council is carrying out against ethnic nationalities.

The EDM was supported by human rights campaign group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), and comes just two weeks before imprisoned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due for release from house arrest.

"CSW strongly urges the British government and other governments to take this call seriously and to initiate a commission of inquiry into the junta’s crimes against humanity," said Alexa Papadouris, advocacy director of CSW.

Human rights violations highlighted in the EDM include use of rape as a weapon of war, forced labour, the use of human minesweepers, child soldiers, and the imprisonment of over 2,100 political prisoners.

"I have visited the ethnic peoples on both the Thailand-Burma border and the India-Burma border with CSW, and have been shocked by the horrific stories I have heard from victims of this barbaric regime," said John Bercow.

The EDM coincides with a statement released on Wednesday by Thailand-based Burma Lawyers' Council that said the extent and severity of crimes committed by the junta are enough to warrant accusations of war crimes and genocide.

Similarly, last month, former senior legal adviser to the International Criminal Court, Morten Bergsmo, stated that the Burmese army's use of child soldiers could constitute a war crime.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith

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