Nobel Laureates Push Clinton on Burma Inquiry Panel

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 12:31 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A group of female Nobel Peace Prize winners is urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support a special commission to investigate human rights abuses in Burma.

The five laureates, co-founders of the Nobel Women's Initiative, sent a letter to Clinton earlier this week asking her to “publicly and unequivocally” back the creation of an international commission of inquiry when the United Nations General Assembly opens this month.

The laureates say the newly elected Burmese government has continued to perpetrate human rights abuses despite a promise to institute democratic reforms. They say dozens of women have been raped since January, when the military launched offensives against ethnic rebel forces in northern Shan and Kachin provinces.

Refugees say government soldiers said they were ordered to rape the women.

The United States, Canada, Australia and 12 European Union countries have backed the formation of a commission as first proposed by U.N. human rights investigator Tomas Quintana last year.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come out in support of a commission. In videotaped remarks to a U.S. congressional panel in June, she said the panel would not be a tribunal, but a way to make sure abuses do not recur.

The Nobel Women's Initiative was founded by Ireland's Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala, Kenya's Wangari Maathai, Shirin Ebadi of Iran and Jody Williams of the United States. All but Williams signed the letter to Clinton.