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Burma Representative’s Confirmation Hearing Only an Initial Step

Andrea Gittleman, JD, and David Angeles on July 1, 2011

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing for Derek Mitchell’s nomination to be the US Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, an ambassadorial level post unfilled since its creation in the 2008 Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act.

In his testimony, Mitchell stated that his

“objective will be to implement US law faithfully and coordinate efforts to advance the common international objectives of bringing about in Burma the unconditional release of all political prisoners, respect for human rights, an inclusive dialogue between the regime and the political opposition, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and ethnic groups that would lead to national reconciliation, and Burma’s adherence to its international obligations, including all UN Security Council resolutions on nonproliferation.”

PHR applauds the nomination of Mr. Mitchell to this post, which had remained empty for far too long. However, PHR is concerned that there was scant mention at Wednesday’s hearing of the military regime’s continued criminality, Burma’s rampant impunity for regime leaders, or the important need to establish rule of law in the country.

If Mr. Mitchell is confirmed, PHR urges that he use this new position to press for the creation of an international commission of inquiry to investigate the continuing and egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by the Burmese military junta against its own people. Only when the truth has been brought to light can the country truly change.

Places: Burma