Friday, February 27, 2009

Asean parliamentarians urge action on Burma

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation (Thailand)

Parliamentarians from Asean countries yesterday urged leaders attending the Asean Summit from today until Sunday (March 1) to seek solutions to pushing Burma toward democracy and social justice.

The junta run country will hold a general election next year but the poll might not be inclusive enough to have participation from all stakeholders, notably ethnic minorities, said Charles Chang, a parliamentarian from Singapore.

A group of parliamentarians from Southeast Asian countries under the Asean Inter Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) gathered yesterday at a Bangkok hotel to discuss social justice in Burma.

They met Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, as Thailand holds the chairmanship of Asean, to highlight key issues of the current situation in Burma, including human rights suppression and the 2010 junta sponsored general election.

The issue of Burma has dominated Asean meetings since the country failed to reform politics and release key opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Kasit told the parliamentarians that his government would address the issue of Burma a lot more seriously and with more engagement of civil society, according to an Asean MP who attended the meeting.

The minister was quite open as he allowed former elected MPs from Burma who are now in exile to see him yesterday, said AIPMC president Kraisak Chonhavan.

"It [more open discussion] would be like turning to a new chapter, but how to put it into political practicality in Burma is another question. This is the most open pre-Asean meeting I have ever seen," he said.

Asked whether the foreign minister, as the representative of Asean, had promised any action towards change in Burma, Kraisak declined to be specific, saying that the Asean charter had set out the standard for human rights in the region. :(...:( ...:(

"The point is that countries which are dictatorships, or countries which are democratic in name only, can no longer dictate the Asean theme.
Human rights is now an open horizon and will not stop," he added.

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