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Indonesian Foreign Minister’s Trip Should Promote Rights

By Human Rights Watch  •  March 28, 2010

Indonesia’s foreign minister should stress to Burma’s military government that drastic reforms are needed if the elections this year are to be credible, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today to Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who is visiting Burma on March 30.

Human Rights Watch urged Indonesia, as a leading member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to continue its strong and principled stand on the human rights situation in Burma.

“Indonesia’s own democratic transition gives Foreign Minister Natalegawa credentials that Burma’s generals can’t ignore,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But it’s up to him while in Burma to convey to the generals the urgent need for genuine reform.”

Burma’s recently issued election laws limit the participation of longstanding opponents of military rule by forcing political parties, on penalty of deregistration, to expel any members currently serving prison sentences. Human Rights Watch said that Indonesia has important experiences it could impart to Burma on the transition to democracy from authoritarian rule, staging democratic elections, and implementing economic reforms.

Human Rights Watch cautioned that if the electoral process is conducted under conditions of repression it should not be endorsed in any way by Indonesia or ASEAN.

“Indonesia should be a sound voice in ASEAN for endorsing reforms ahead of the planned polls and targeted financial sanctions against Burma’s military leadership,” Pearson said.

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This post is in: Press Release

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