Dili, 27 November 2009

UN resolution on Myanmar welcomed: T-L Government abstention on vote condemned

FRETILIN, as the political party holding the most number of seats in the Timor-Leste National Parliament, welcomes the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly last week of the resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar/Burma.

However, we condemn the Timor-Leste de facto government’s decision to abstain from the vote in the UN General Assembly on the Myanmar/Burma resolution last week. During this week’s budget debate session, in the presence of the de facto Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao and Foreign Minister, Zacarias da Costa FRETILIN clearly stated its support for the resolution, in keeping with our voting record since 2002 of support for similar resolutions.

The UN resolution "strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" of the people of Burma and calls on the military regime "to take urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."

The resolution was adopted by the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights, with a record of 92 member States voting in favor and 26 member States voting against. By abstaining, the Timor-Leste government has once again demonstrated its tolerance of impunity in relation to human rights violations.

The UN body expresses its grave concern over the recent trial and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and the current imprisonment of more than 2,000 political prisoners, as well as the restrictions imposed by the junta to rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Moreover, the resolution "expresses grave concern at the continuing practice of arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and strongly calls upon the Government of Myanmar to allow a full, transparent, effective, impartial and independent investigation into all reports of human rights violations, and to bring to justice those responsible in order to end impunity for such crimes".

Article 7, line 1) of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste states that: “On matters of international relations, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste shall govern itself by the principles of national independence, the right of the Peoples to self-determination and independence, the permanent sovereignty of the peoples over their wealth and natural resources, the protection of human rights…….”The people of Timor-Leste struggled for 24 years against a foreign occupation and were greatly assisted and protected in our struggle by international human rights law. Our human rights prevailed and we are an independent nation state today because the international community recognized our human rights.

Our people are deeply committed to promoting and defending human rights abuse wherever it occurs and our constitution enshrines that in law. Timor-Leste has ratified all United Nations Treaties and conventions as a consequence. Unfortunately the actions of this de facto government do not reflect that commitment since the restoration of our independence on 20 May 2002.

It is however, regrettably very much in keeping with the AMP de facto government’s contempt for human rights and the rule of law, and its tolerance of impunity, which it demonstrated on 30 August last by illegally freeing a prisoner (former militia leader Maternus Bere) who awaiting trial for gross mass crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste, and then assisted him to leave the country.

Jose Fernandes Teixeira
FRETILIN MP and member of Parliamentary
Defense, Security and Foreign Affairs Committee-B Contact: +670 728 7080

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