UN set to appoint a war crimes commission against Myanmar

The Times Of India | WASHINGTON: The United Nations is to set up a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes by the Myanmar's military rulers, a move which is being strongly backed by the Obama administration.

The move to set up Commission of Inquiry is part of an effort to force the military junta to open its authoritarian political system and free thousands of political prisoners, The Washington Post reported.

Quoting top US officials, the paper said this indicated a toughening of stance against the military junta led by Senior General Than Shwe, who has been ruling Myanmar uninterrupted since 1992.

The Obama administration is also considering tightening financial sanctions against the regime, and these developments come just months before the November 7 general elections announced by the Myanmar government, which has been rejected by US and other western nations as flawed.

The paper said the 77-year-old dictator has been accused of leading brutal campaigns against ethnic insurgencies and Burmese dissidents, such as the 2007 crackdown on the "Saffron Revolution", during which scores of protesters, including Buddhist monks, were killed and thousands jailed.

Than Shwe's State Peace and Development Council also overturned election results in 1990 that favoured the political party of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest.

"What's important here is that this is not aimed at the people of Burma but at its leadership, particularly at Than Shwe," said a senior administration official.

The Obama administration entered office with a desire to shift course on Burma -- both as part of a strategy to improve relations with all the nations of Southeast Asia and as part of a belief that Burma, also known as Myanmar, should not be allowed to become a client state of China, the Post said.

The administration decided last fall to begin to engage with the Burmese regime. It dispatched high-ranking diplomats and held out the prospect of the resumption of some aid.

It opened discussions about Burma's upcoming elections in the hope that the regime would allow some measure of democracy.