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Karen Communities Worldwide released a statement to the UN Security Council. The Karen people have been subject to human rights violations by the successive civilian and military governments in Burma for decades. This statement calls on the UN Security Council to refer Burma to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for effective action to take place. Below is the full statement:
Statement by Karen Communities Worldwide
Monday, 30 July 2018
UN Security Council Members must refer Burma to the International Criminal Court
Karen communities worldwide join the call from Kachin and other ethnic people of Burma
for the United Nations Security Council to refer Burma to the International Criminal Court.
As long as members of the United Nations Security Council continue to protect the Burmese
military from facing justice, human rights violations against our people will continue.
We have been horrified to see the escalation of human rights violations by the military in
Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. We have suffered from the same human rights violations
at the hands of successive civilian and military governments in Burma for decades. Many of
these human rights abuses violate international law as defined by the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court. Yet from 2002, when the Rome Statute came into force, no
action was taken by the United Nations Security Council to refer Burma to the International
Criminal Court and hold those responsible to account.
The failure of UN Security Council members to uphold their responsibilities and act to end
impunity has resulted in many thousands of deaths, thousands of women being raped, and
more than a million people across the country being forced to flee their homes.
As a result of these human rights violations, hundreds of thousands of Karen people have
been forced to flee their homeland and now live on four continents across the globe.
Refugees are still living in camps in Thailand, in danger of being forced to return to Burma
before it is safe for them to do so as donors are cutting financial support. Internally
displaced people have already lost support from international donors.
The UN Security Council has done nothing to prevent violations of international law against
the Karen or other ethnic groups, and now the international community won’t even give
proper food, shelter and medical care to those who suffered so much as a result of their
failure to act.
If action had been taken to refer Burma to the International Criminal Court while the Karen,
Karenni, Shan and other ethnic groups were suffering at the hands of the military 15 years
ago, the events in Kachin and northern Shan State from 2011, and in Rakhine State in 2016
and 2017, would probably not have happened.
The recent breaking of the ceasefire in Karen State shows how fragile the so-called peace
process is. Since the ceasefire more Burmese army soldiers have been moved into Karen
State and more military installations have been built. These actions demonstrate the
Burmese military are not genuine about peace. At the same time the Burmese military still
refuses to consider allowing the constitutional change necessary for a lasting political
settlement to address the root causes of conflict. The situation in Kachin State since 2011
should serve as a warning for what could face the Karen and other ethnic groups when they
refuse to bow to the will of the military. The Burmese military sees ceasefires as another
way to weaken ethnic groups and control their land and resources, not as a pathway to
If the Burmese military attacked Yangon, Mandalay or Naypyidaw firing mortar bombs at
homes and schools, raping women and children, shooting indiscriminately as people fled,
burning houses and looting, would members of the UN Security Council stand by and do
nothing, as they do when it is homes and schools burning in ethnic states, and ethnic
women being raped?
“Min Aung Hlaing and his military understand that the UN Security Council and the rest of
the international community are willing to stand by and do nothing as long as it is ethnic
people they are targeting. The more they are allowed to get away with violating
international law, the bolder they become, the more human rights violations they commit.
This escalating cycle of conflict and abuses can only start to be addressed when the UN
Security Council acts to end military impunity,” said Naw K’Nyaw Paw, General Secretary of
the Karen Women’s Organisation.
We call on all members of the United Nations Security Council to publicly support referring
Burma to the International Criminal Court, and to work to build the support of all members
of the United Nations for a referral. Referring Burma to the International Criminal Court is
one of the most effective steps that can be taken to start to reduce human rights violations
in Burma and hold those responsible to account. We welcome the support of Canada for a
referral of Burma to the International Criminal Court. The decision of other UN Security
Council members not to support a referral of Burma to the International Criminal Court is
not a neutral decision, it is an active decision to allow human rights violations against ethnic
people to continue with impunity.
Karen organisations worldwide supporting this statement:
1. Australian Karen Organization (AKO)
2. Denmark Karen Organisation
3. European Karen Network
4. Finland Karen Culture Association
5. International Karen Organization (IKO)
6. Karen American Organization (KAO)
7. Karen Community Association- UK
8. Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
9. Karen Community in Norway
10. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (Kawthoolei)
11. Karen Grassroots Women’s Network (KGWN)
12. Karen National Community – the Netherlands
13. Karen Office for Relief and Development (KORD)
14. Karen Organization of USA (KOUSA)
15. Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN)
16. Karen Students Network Group (KSNG)
17. Karen Swedish Community
18. Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO)
19. Korea Karen Organization (KKO)
20. Min Lwin Environmental Conservation Group (MLECG)
21. New Zealand Karen Association Incorporated
For more information please contact: Naw K’Nyaw Paw, email@example.com