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Myanmar must be ready to act as face of ASEAN to the world

By ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus  •  November 29, 2011

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) today called on the Myanmar government to fulfill its obligations to continue on its path of democratization and improve its human rights standards ahead of taking the ASEAN Chair in 2014.

AIPMC has welcomed Myanmar’s recent tentative advances towards political reform and would like to see these changes translate into substantial and irreversible progress. We hope that with ASEAN’s support Myanmar could make further progress domestically and in preparation for its 2014 ASEAN Chairmanship.

“Myanmar must be ready to assume the heavy responsibilities that come with being chair of ASEAN,” said Dr Lim Wee Kiak, AIPMC Vice-President and Singapore Member of Parliament. “The chair is also ASEAN’s external face to the world and helps to maintain ASEAN’s international credibility. The success of Myanmar’s chairmanship is important not only to Myanmar and her people but to ASEAN and all of us as well.”

AIPMC hereby calls on ASEAN and related bodies to use their mandate and uphold their obligation to ensure Myanmar meets basic human rights standards outlined in both the ASEAN Charter and international law. ASEAN and its member states must continue to monitor the reform process in Myanmar and assist the government there in any ways possible to bring about concrete and lasting change that will deliver true democratization, justice and an end to human rights abuses.

During its annual Steering Committee Meeting in Bali, AIPMC resolved to visit Myanmar in early 2012 where AIPMC member MPs from across the region hope to meet with government and non-government actors alike.

“This is a great opportunity for us to engage with people from across the spectrum in Myanmar that are working towards democratization and improving the extremely desperate human rights situation there,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, AIPMC President and Indonesian Member of Parliament. “Myanmar and its people have a huge task ahead of them and we all hope for a brighter future. AIPMC, ASEAN, its people and its governments must all take an active interest in a freer, fairer and more open Myanmar, not only for the people of Myanmar but for all of us, as a regional community.”

AIPMC representatives, including AIPMC Vice-President Kraisak Choonhavan and AIPMC member and Malaysian MP Yusmadi Yusoff also met today in Bali with Homayoun Alizadeh, regional representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for South-East Asia to discuss ongoing developments in Myanmar and share information on OHCHR’s current human rights capacity building programmes for establishing structures for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. Alizadeh supported AIPMC’s plan to meet with government and civil society actors in Myanmar, stressing that a new emerging generation of government officials offered hope for genuine change in the future.

“The openness, dedication and commitment and eagerness of this young generation of government officials needs to be recognised. This is the generation that will have a major role to play for the democratization process of the country,” said Alizadeh adding that the government should give more space to civil society to be a part of this changing process. AIPMC hopes that international and regional human rights bodies, such as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and OHCHR, will play a key role in assisting Myanmar on its path toward reform over the coming years as well as working to ensure all ASEAN states continue to place greater emphasis on human rights and build on the progress achieved under the Indonesian Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2011.

AIPMC also drew OHCHR’s attention to specific human rights concerns in Myanmar including issues related to business and economic development projects funded by overseas investment and substantive obstacles to national reconciliation and peace talks between the government, political opposition and armed ethnic groups. Ongoing conflicts between the military and armed ethnic groups and the limited progress of peace talks remain a key concern. Myanmar must take concrete and genuine steps toward entering into upfront and inclusive peace talks with armed ethnic groups as a prerequisite for genuine democratic progress.

For more information/ interview with AIPMC MPs, please contact: Agung Putri Astrid +62 81514006416

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This post is in: ASEAN, Press Release

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