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4 – 10 October: Thailand Must Promote Human Security in Burma and ASEAN

October 11, 2010

Today, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva embarked on his first official trip to Burma. He is expected to be briefed on the SPDC’s plans after the elections and discuss the situation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, other prisoners and ethnic minority groups, while economic interests also appear to be a main focus of the meetings.

Abhisit’s visit is timely in light of Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya’s comment last week regarding a plan to repatriate refugees and intellectuals back to Burma after the elections. The statement raised serious concerns for the safety of those who could be repatriated, many of whom could be met with fines, arbitrary arrests, and even torture for leaving the country. Those who have been involved in political activities could face particularly harsh repercussions. Watch a report from DVB TV here.

On 6 October, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Viman Kidchob clarified that there had been a misunderstanding and that Thailand had no such plan. “Rather, what the Minister referred to is Thailand’s intention to launch a comprehensive programme to help better prepare Myanmar people now residing in Thailand, including Myanmar displaced persons in terms of training, education and capacity building. The objective is to ensure that these people can return home with dignity, be self-reliant, and participate and contribute meaningfully to their country’s development when the situation in their country becomes conducive for their eventual return, whenever that may be.” Read the full statement here.

While it is some relief that there is no current plan to repatriate refugees, the Thai government must take concrete steps to ensure the safety of those who have fled from Burma due to political repression, armed conflict and economic mismanagement. Sending refugees back into areas of instability and armed conflict would only serve to exasperate the humanitarian conditions on both sides of the Thai-Burma border.

Abhisit’s visit is a significant opportunity for Thailand to demonstrate its commitment to the people of Burma’s wellbeing, as well as the principles of democracy and human rights. As a leading member of ASEAN, Thailand must place equal emphasis on ASEAN’s social-cultural and political-security pillars as they do on the economic pillar. Abhisit should not squander this opportunity to increase pressure on the SPDC to deal with all security issues, including curbing drug trade, ending armed hostilities in ethnic areas, and attacks on civilians. Without concrete measures, these issues will continue to affect not only the people of Burma, but also extend to Thailand and the entire ASEAN region.

News Highlights

 

Rangoon Central Supreme Court accepts a lawsuit filed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi challenging the junta’s dissolution of the NLD

High Court in Naypyidaw agrees to hear Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers’ arguments regarding their appeal against her house arrest

Heavy rains in Burma cause flooding, injuring at least 2,000 people and killing nearly a dozen

 

Inside Burma

Six political parties form coalition supporting the right to self-determination for Burma’s ethnic groups

Politicians from the Democratic Party and Shan National Democratic Party criticize the election boycott as hurting the chances of opposition parties

SPDC censorship board suspends a Rangoon-based weekly from publication for two weeks for publishing a cartoon on the USDP

Village chairman in Maungdaw Township, Arakan State, has been forcibly collecting 5,000 Kyats (US$5) per households to fund travel and other official work of the village election commission

USDP candidate in Maugdaw Township, Arakan State, threatens villagers

Leaders of three Kachin armed groups backed by the military regime will contest in the elections

Some polling stations in Mon State will not be able to process all eligible voters on election day

Sub-election commission blocks Shan Nationalities Democratic and Taang National Party from campaigning in Kutkhai Township, northern Shan State

Voters in Karenni State complain that they have no party to vote for after the National Unity and Development Party withdrew from the polls

Chin youths are crossing the border into India’s Mizoram State to avoid being coerced into casting votes

Kachin Independence Organization declares war against drugs in Kachin State and northern Shan State

Democratic Karen Buddha Army soldiers attend a government-run military training for Border Guard Forces in Mon State

SPDC Army gives training and weapons to employees of the Yuzana construction company

Officials at Thandwe prison in Arakan State charge prisoners for beds; those unable to pay are forced to sleep in dirty spaces

Regional

During Senior General Than Shwe’s trip to Laos, the two countries agreed to increase cooperation along their common border to fight drug trafficking and illegal immigration

A Toyota affiliate has sold its 20 percent stake in a joint venture with the SPDC after protests by social activist investor groups

International

At the close of the Asia-Europe Meeting, leaders urge Burma to release political prisoners and hold free and fair elections; Britain, Netherlands and Mongolia issue strong criticisms

Former UN Special Rapporteurs on Burma call on the European Union to support a commission of inquiry
The human rights committee of the Inter Parliamentary Union calls on the SPDC to immediately release 12 lawmakers from jail before the elections

Latest from the Blog

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Release is Not an Olive Branch
By Burma Partnership

Action

 

Youth activists in Arakan State post notices on lamp posts and fences urging the public to boycott the elections

Burmese Rohingya Association of Japan met senior officers at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo to urge the Japanese government to support the establishment of a commission of inquiry on Burma

Opinion

Burma’s electoral authoritarianism
By Matthew Smith
The Huffington Post

Burma’s elections to test Thai will
The Nation

Statements and Press Releases

Vote not anonymous: Burmese Embassy Official
By Burma Campaign Australia

ASEM Backs Release Of Political Prisoners And UN Action On Burma
By Burma Campaign UK

European MPs Welcome Estonia Support for Burma Crimes Inquiry
By European Parliamentary Caucus on Burma

Burma/possible release of Aung San Suu Kyi
By the French Foreign and European Affairs Ministry

Trade Unions Call on ASEM to Act on Burma
By International Trade Union Confederation

Reports

Week 30: 2010 Election Watch (28 September – 4 October)
By Altsean-Burma

Weekly Political Events Regarding the SPDC’s Election (037-2010) (in Burmese)
By Network for Democracy and Development

Weekly Political Events Regarding the SPDC’s Election (036-2010) (in English)
By Network for Democracy and Development

This post is in: Weekly Highlights