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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

IBA Asks Lawyers to Speak Out to Obtain an UN Commission of Inquiry Regarding Burma

The international Bar Association is asking lawyers to speak out regarding the oppressive conditions imposed by the military regime in Burma. Set out below is the text of an e-mail circulated to IBA members as a call to action for lawyers to help in obtaining a UN Inquiry Commission into Burma. The bottom of the email identifies specific actions and resources, including providing template letters for lawyers to send to relevant government leaders.

Democracy and freedom require effort. Hopefully lawyers will make a difference.

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Dear Friends,

As you know, one of the IBA’s principle undertakings is its Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI). The IBAHRI works to promote and protect the independence and best interests of the legal profession across the globe, particularly in countries where the rule of law is threatened or compromised. When atrocities and human rights violations occur, the IBA is committed to achieving justice for victims and accountability for violations.

Today we launch a new campaign, engaging still further in the effort to stop impunity through effective judicial mechanisms. This new IBAHRI advocacy campaign will support the establishment of a UN led Commission of Inquiry into international crimes in Burma – currently one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

Burma is known for its magic and golden mystique, but serious human rights violations are alleged to have been committed by the Burmese military junta. It has been reported that the former military-controlled government of Burma destroyed more than 3,300 ethnic minority villages, forcibly displaced over 1 million refugees, recruited tens of thousands of child soldiers, and committed widespread rape and sexual violence against women of ethnic minorities.

In March 2010, the UN Special Rapporteur on Burma recommended the establishment of a UN-led Commission of Inquiry into international crimes. The IBAHRI’s goal is to ensure that such a Commission is part of the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly 2011 resolution on Burma.

The IBAHRI has prepared a comprehensive kit, including a Background Paper andGuidelines Document on how to take action. I invite you to review these documents, to visit the IBA webpage on Burma at and to contact the for further information.

We believe our voice adds significant value toward efforts to end impunity. Lawyers and bar associations can and must speak out on matters where states fail to address serious violations of human rights.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Ellis IBA Executive Director


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