Thursday, May 22, 2008

Call for Burma's leaders to face court

From correspondents in Strasbourg

May 22, 2008 07:47pm

THE European Parliament has called for Burma junta leaders to be brought before the international court in The Hague if they continue to prevent aid from reaching cyclone-stricken regions.

The euro deputies, meeting in Strasbourg, voted overwhelmingly - 524 votes for, three against with 13 abstentions - in the non-binding resolution that "if the Burmese authorities continue to prevent aid from reaching those in danger, they should be held accountable for crimes against humanity before the ICC (International Criminal Court)".

The MEPs also called on EU member states to push the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution to refer the matter to the court "for investigation and prosecution".

The assembled MEPs strongly condemned the "unacceptably slow response to this grave humanitarian crisis by the Burmese authorities, which have put preservation of their own power before the survival of their citizens".

The resolution came before Burma voters in the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy delta region are asked to approve a new constitution Saturday, even with two million people still hungry and homeless three weeks after the killer storm.

The regime has already declared a 92.4 per cent victory in the first round of voting on May 10, which was held in regions that were spared by the cyclone.

The European Parliament deplored "the distorted priorities of the regime in pushing ahead with its so-called referendum on the sham constitution and rejects the implausible outcome at a time when a large part of the country has been devastated and millions are suffering from what has been aptly described as a natural disaster turned into a man-made catastrophe".

Burma's secretive military junta has stunned the world by refusing a full-scale foreign relief effort that could save countless lives.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left today for a personal look at the disaster area, on the first day of a visit aimed at pushing for a full emergency relief effort after Cyclone Nargis.

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