Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

Open Letter to ASEAN Coordinating Council

By Task Force on ASEAN and Burma  •  July 19, 2010

Re: ASEAN must address Burma’s undemocratic elections, serious international crimes, and nuclear efforts

Dear Excellencies,

We urge the ASEAN Coordinating Council, during this ASEAN Ministerial Meeting to firmly discuss Burma’s failing democratic transition, egregious international crimes, and additional actions that violate the ASEAN Charter, SEANWFZ, and other international agreements. ASEAN is endeavouring to move towards greater regional integration by 2015. However, in order to take the region to a higher plane, ASEAN must be willing to take stronger measures to deal with the region’s rogue state.

It is time for the region to face the harsh reality that Burma’s military regime has made no efforts to ensure that this year’s elections will be free or fair. Moreover, serious international crimes have spiked in the 18 months before 2010, with increased suppression of dissent throughout the country and 118,800 people recently displaced by army attacks in Eastern Burma alone. The military regime’s long standing systematic human rights violations remain and thèse crimes make it even more clear that the military junta’s intention is not to turn power over to civilians, but to hold on to power.

The military regime’s tight‐fisted governing approach with vast economic mismanagement, disregard for social development, and highly volatile approach to consolidating power and control over ethnic groups will not diminish after the elections. The generals have arranged the new constitution and elections to still give them broad and unchecked power, and their impacts on regional security and stability will continue to be felt in the post‐election period.

We call on ASEAN to hold effective discussions on what steps must be taken to ensure genuine democratic transition in Burma, to be followed up at the ASEAN Summit in October. The military regime has manipulated elections preparations on every level. They have drafted a constitution that entrenches military power, issued highly restrictive electoral laws, failed to engage in dialogue with democratic and ethnic leaders, further harassed opposition groups, limited political parties in their campaigning activities, and used tactics that go against their own election laws to give undue support to their proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). ASEAN can no longer sit back and hope that these elections will free and fair, but must take actions to ensure that genuine democratic transition can take place.

With the establishment of the AICHR, ASEAN seeks to establish human rights as a fundamental principle of the region. However, Burma’s military regime continues to commit and be complicit in systematic and severe human rights violations that could be tantamount to crimes against humanity. In March, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana recommended that the UN consider establishing a commission of inquiry into serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. Australia, the UK, Czech Republic and Slovakia have already supported the call. ASEAN must support a commission of inquiry for a strong regional political security community cannot be built as long as Burma is devoid of justice and the rule of law.

Furthermore, ASEAN must take grave consideration of Burma’s intent to develop nuclear capability, as well as its burgeoning relationship with North Korea. An investigation and fact‐finding mission should be conducted as to whether Burma is violating SEANWFZ or UN Security Council Resolution 1874.

ASEAN is working towards a “resilient, dynamic and sustained” regional community by 2015, but these plans will continue to be severely derailed as long as they ignore the lack of genuine democratization and socio‐economic development in Burma, ongoing impunity for serious international crimes, and nuclear efforts. ASEAN must push strongly with all its capacity for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; genuine political dialogue between the military, prodemocracy and ethnic leaders, including a review of the flawed 2008 Constitution; and an end to attacks and human rights violations against activists and ethnic communities.

We, the Task Force on ASEAN and Burma, a network of civil society groups from Burma are ready to work with ASEAN to help develop effective solutions to the situation in Burma.

Sincerely yours,
Task Force on ASEAN and Burma (TFAB)

Tags: , , ,

This post is in: Press Release

Related Posts
Open Letter to ASEAN Heads of State
The Rohingya Crisis and the Risk of Atrocities in Myanmar: An ASEAN Challenge and Call to Action
The Appointment of New Representatives of Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam and the Re-appointment of Representatives to the AICHR
Myanmar Must End Its Policy of Segregation in Rakhine State: ASEAN’s Inability to Act Points to Institutional Failures
HRWG Calls NHRI to Make an Investigative Report on Rohingya Issue