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Security Council Discusses Burma

On December 16th, the United Nations Security Council discussed Burma for the first time ever. U-N Under-Secretary Ibrahim Gambari conducted the briefing, saying Burma appeared to be moving towards a humanitarian crisis.

Emyr Jones-Perry, Britain's U-N ambassador and Security Council president for December, says the presentation painted a grim portrait of conditions in Burma:

"What we heard was a litany of the problems which confront Burma. The dire political, social, and economic situation, the continued detention of political prisoners, the serious spread of disease, especially H-I-V/AIDS, the food insecurity, recruitment of child soldiers, the systematic abuse of human rights, the lack of progress to tackle internal conflict, lack of any progress on internal constitutional reform...the increased movement of drugs, all these points were highlighted."

Ambassador John Bolton, U-S Permanent Representative to the U-N, underlined the U.S. commitment to supporting change in Burma. He said, "It's certainly the intention of the United States based on this briefing to continue advocating Security Council scrutiny."

There are more than one-thousand-one-hundred political prisoners in Burma. They include Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader and Nobel peace prize winner. Aung San Suu Kyi was again detained in May 2003, after a brief period of freedom, when thugs affiliated with the Burmese government attacked her convoy. She was imprisoned and subsequently transferred to house arrest, which was recently extended by the government of Burma.

In a written statement, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that the U.S. welcomes the Security Council's briefing. He says, "The Security Council's direct involvement on the issue of Burma is another reminder of just how serious the situation in that country has become. The Security Council involvement is essential to putting Burma on a path towards democracy, and greater prosperity and stability."

Mr. McCormack reiterated U.S. "calls on the [Burmese] regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo, Hkun Htun Oo, and all other political prisoners.and the lifting of restrictions on U-N agencies and N-G-O's [non-governmental organizations] providing humanitarian assistance."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.