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Burma Representatives Attend Regional Civil Society Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia

By Burma Partnership | May 2, 2011

This coming week, eighteen representatives from Burma’s independent civil society will be participating in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2011 (ACSC/APF) and associated events in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is an important venue for Burma advocates to raise concerns about the human rights violations and the lack of genuine democratization, and to call on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take concrete action on Burma.

The ACSC/APF is organized as a parallel process to the ASEAN Summit, which brings together Southeast Asian leaders to discuss economic and political developments in the region. Members of civil society from throughout ASEAN participate in the conference to exchange ideas on a variety of issues and ultimately present recommendations to ASEAN leaders and policy-makers. This year, keynote speeches will be delivered by Indonesia’s Vice President H. E. Dr. Boediono and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi via pre-recorded video.

The delegation, which includes members of the Task Force on ASEAN and Burma (TFAB), has organized a workshop and press conference to raise awareness about the lack of genuine political change since the November 2010 elections, the escalating armed conflict in Eastern Burma, and ongoing human rights violations throughout the country. The workshop will address the regional ramifications of the situation in Burma, and will seek to develop linkages and common strategies amongst civil society from ASEAN.  The delegation will also be collecting signatures for a letter writing campaign addressed to ASEAN foreign ministers appealing to national governments to support the call for a UN-led Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

Members of the delegation will be raising these issues and concerns as speakers in workshops on civil liberties, women and militarization, housing and human rights, and transitional justice. In the evenings, there will be cultural events to celebrate the diversity of the region and a photo exhibition highlighting the struggles of people’s movements throughout ASEAN. Representatives from the major political alliances of the movement for democracy and rights of ethnic nationalities in Burma will also be meeting with Indonesian parliamentarian members of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC).

The delegation will use these opportunities to call on ASEAN member states, and especially Thailand, to continue to provide much-needed protection for refugees fleeing from different forms of persecution and human rights violations. Until the military dominated government of Burma ceases attacks on ethnic communities, halts human rights violations, releases all political prisoners, and engages in dialogue with ethnic and democratic forces, it is not deserving of the ASEAN chairmanship in 2014. ASEAN must ensure that all member states adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights as that are enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, starting with Burma.

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