(Washington, DC, October 17, 2007) – The Chinese government should immediately take concrete steps to help end state repression in Burma, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to President Hu Jintao. China is one of Burma’s largest investors and suppliers of weaponry.
Chinese officials have publicly called for ‘cooperation’ and ‘dialogue’ between the Burmese generals and their critics, but said nothing when these critics were arrested, ‘disappeared’ or killed. Even worse, the Chinese government has blocked most of the international efforts to effectively address the crisis.
Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch.
“Chinese officials have publicly called for ‘cooperation’ and ‘dialogue’ between the Burmese generals and their critics, but said nothing when these critics were arrested, ‘disappeared’ or killed,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. “Even worse, the Chinese government has blocked most of the international efforts to effectively address the crisis.”
Human Rights Watch noted that August 8, 2008 will not only be the opening date of the Beijing Olympics, but will also mark the 20th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy protests in Burma, during which an estimated 3,000 people were killed. Although the Chinese government chose 08/08/08 for symbolic reasons, recent events in Burma, and China’s ties to the military government, mean that the spotlight on that date will also be on the continued suffering of the Burmese people.
Human Rights Watch urged President Hu to take seven steps:
- Immediately place an embargo on all weapons transfers from China to Burma and suspend all military training, transport, assistance, and cooperation.
- Support or abstain from vetoing UN Security Council resolutions calling for sanctions or other collective action to address the crisis in Burma.
- In the absence of Security Council-imposed sanctions, China (along with other countries) should act to impose targeted sanctions to encourage the steps outlined above.
- Uphold the 1951 Refugee Convention and customary international law and allow anyone fleeing persecution in Burma to cross the border into China.
- Suspend involvement by state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and Sinopec, both official Olympic partners, in proposed Burma-China oil and natural gas pipelines until the conditions specified above in relation to multilateral sanctions are met.
- Instruct Chinese firms, including stated-owned firms, with business ties to Burma to publicly and fully disclose all payments made to the Burmese military, directly or through the entities it controls.
- Continue to urge the Burmese military government to engage in dialogue with its critics, and end its repression of them. The Seven Step Road Map to Democracy, which is merely a cover for continued military rule, must be scrapped and replaced with a plan that has the genuine support of Burma’s political parties and ethnic groups.
- Urge the Burmese government to reconvene a truly representative and participatory national convention that operates through an open and transparent consultative process that could lead to a new constitutional settlement that genuinely reflects the views of all parties and leads to the creation of a civilian government.
“If China takes a strong stand on Burma now, it will be credited rather than criticized on 08-08-08,” said Richardson. “Doing so isn’t just right; it’s also in China’s self-interest.”