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June 3, 2009 (AFP), The international community should use global outrage about the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi to push for a UN inquiry over possible crimes against humanity in Burma, legal and rights experts said.
The case against the democracy icon, who faces up to five years’ jail on charges of breaching her house arrest, has provided a "window of opportunity" to investigate Burma’s junta, said Tyler Giannini of Harvard Law School.
Giannini co-authored a report in May calling for the UN Security Council to follow the precedent of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, where inquiries led to special tribunals and prosecutions.
"The trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is putting additional scrutiny on Burma right now and really highlighting the lack of judicial independence," Giannini said at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand late Tuesday.
He said that with political unity there was a "very good chance… that (UN) member states will consider it seriously and it has a chance to get on the agenda in the fairly near future because of this current scrutiny."
Burma’s military regime charged Aung San Suu Kyi last month over an incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside home. She has already spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention.
The case has sparked international outrage, with US President Barack Obama calling the proceedings a "show trial".
The Harvard report quoted UN documents as saying Burma’s military regime has uprooted or destroyed more than 3,000 villages in the past 12 years, executed innocent people and practiced widespread sexual violence and torture.
David Mathieson, a Burma researcher for Human Rights Watch, supported the call for a UN inquiry in the country.
"What this report is trying to say is that this is about justice, and justice should be served regardless of the outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, but it does provide an opportunity," he said at the event in Bangkok yesterday.
Khin Ohmar, of the Forum for Democracy in Burma, said the world had already squandered a chance to act after being allowed some access to Burma following cyclone Nargis in May 2008.
"The international community should not miss this type of opportunity again," she said.