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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                      12  August 2011

Myanmar urged to stop rapes

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The United States said Thursday it has been pressuring Myanmar's military-backed regime to stop its alleged use of rape and support a panel to probe alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Twelve US senators, all women, on Wednesday accused the regime in Myanmar, also known as Burma, of using rape as a "weapon of war," and sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to press it to halt the practice.

Clinton spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters a response to the letter was being formulated.

"We have repeatedly raised our concerns about these issues with the Burmese government, particularly regarding violence in ethnic areas, including reports of rape and forced labour," she said.

"We have also used the annual resolution on Burma at the UN General Assembly every year to express our concern," Nuland said.

"And we have strongly supported the role of the UN special rapporteur on the situation in Burma, and we have urged Burma to allow him access to the country," she added.

"We are also committed to seeking accountability for human rights violations that have occurred in Burma and we are prepared to work to establish an international commission of inquiry."

The senators wrote that "given the Burmese regime's unabated use of rape as a weapon of war, we urge you to call on the regime to end this practice and pursue our shared goal of establishing an international commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"We must not allow this regime to continue to commit such dire crimes while the people of Burma continue to suffer," said the senators, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein.

Democrats Barbara Boxer, Kay Hagan, Amy Klobuchar, Mary Landrieu, Barbara Mikulski, Patty Murray and Jeanne Shaheen, and Republicans Key Bailey Hutchison, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Kelly Ayotte signed the letter.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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