Monday, November 14, 2011

ASEAN urges not to reward Burma for superficial reforms

By Zin Linn Nov 14, 2011 6:03PM UTC

The Jakarta-based ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) today called on leading ASEAN delegates to urgently address concerns regarding democratic reform, ethnic conflict and human rights abuses in Burma (Myanmar) at the upcoming 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali this week.

Although the caucus welcomed recent changes taking place in Burma or Myanmar, AIPMC remains concerned by ongoing military conflicts with ethnic groups and the relatively slow pace of political reform and improvement to human rights in the country. In its 14 November press release, the caucus seriously said that delegates from member-states ensure ethnic conflict and human rights abuses in Burma are officially placed on the agenda at the 2011 ASEAN Summit.

In its June 17 press statement, AIPMC strongly condemns the decision by the Burmese government to send off heavily armed troops into Kachin State and the concomitant outbreak of fighting, which brings an end to the 17-year old ceasefire between the government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

“It is clear that the current government of Myanmar lacks the will to push through the necessary reforms,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, AIPMC President and Member of Indonesian Parliament.

She also said that reconciliation is a precondition of any political initiative for peace in Burma.

In the face of recent limited improvements, the President Thein Sein government has showed a lack of eagerness to carry out genuine reforms, such as releasing political prisoners or ending armed conflict with ethnic groups. Last month amnesty allowed only 10 percent of political prisoners out of an estimated 2,000.

The caucus urges the Thein Sein government to enter into peace talks with the dissident Kachin leaders as an initial step towards a wider nationwide ceasefire and reconciliation process. AIPMC pushes for Indonesia and other ASEAN states to call on Burma (Myanmar) to accept steps toward reconciliation and to offer their assistance in peace process.

AIPMC said that it has also concerned about human rights violations continue to take place in relation to development projects in ethnic areas. Projects, such as the Yadana and Shwe Gas pipelines, undertaken by the Burmese government and financially supported by other states, have led to serious environmental concerns and human rights violations: land confiscations, displacement, torture, rape and other forms of systematic violence among them.

An estimated 50,000 people have been displaced due to the Shwe Gas pipeline project, according to the Shwe Gas Movement. A recent survey by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) found that more people in southeast Burma had been forcibly displaced from their homes during the past year than any other year since data was first collected in 2002.

With a view to protect human rights, AIPMC has urged ASEAN to make a strong call for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Burma. In ethnic areas such as Karen, Kachin and Shan states, there remain grave concerns that war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be perpetrated, as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana mentioned in recent report.

According to the caucus, ASEAN must strongly urge the government of Burma to initiate progressive democratic reforms and to meet with human rights standards outlined in both the ASEAN Charter and international law prior to its taking the ASEAN Chair in 2014. AIPMC also advices ASEAN delegates to ensure calling on the United States and the European Union to continue using pressure tactics as well as engagement to push for genuine national reconciliation.

“The reform process thus far has been stunted due to it being driven by the individual initiative of President Thein Sein, rather than being part of a national platform for reform. Change that depends on the willingness of the president alone is not reform,” said Ms Sundari. “It is wrong therefore for ASEAN to conclude that further incentives should be given to Myanmar in reward for superficial reforms.”

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) is a network formed in an inaugural meeting in Kuala Lumpur, on 26-28 November 2004 by and for

Parliamentarians from the ASEAN countries. The aim is advocating for human rights and democratic reform in Myanmar/Burma.

Its members represent both the ruling and non-ruling political parties of countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Cambodia.

No comments:

Post a Comment