Thursday, May 28, 2009

Burma Damages Asean’s Image: Surin Pitsuwan

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s treatment of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners has damaged the image of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said Surin Pitsuwan, Asean secretary-general.

“The discussion in the room back there was that it [the issue of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners] ...affects Asean's image and Asean's collective interests,” Surin told reporters, following an informal meeting of Asian and EU foreign ministers in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Pitsuwan said that members of Asean do not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of any member of the regional grouping, but they have to express their feelings when an issue affects the efficiency, the image and the credibility of the organization.

Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win on Thursday warned European and Asean leaders meeting in Cambodia to not comment on the internal affairs of Burma and the ongoing trial of Suu Kyi, who is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest and could receive up to five years imprisonment.

Nyan Win was quoted by Deutsche Presse-Agentur as saying, “We understand that the international community has taken a great amount of interest in this trial, but in doing so it has overlooked the important issue of non-interference.”

“This is an internal legal issue, and it is not a human rights issue,” said Nyan Win.

On Tuesday, Asean released a short statement saying that Thailand, in its capacity as the current Asean chair “shall continue to pursue constructive dialogue with the Government of the Union of Myanmar [Burma].”

As the current chair of Asean, Thailand earlier had released a “chair statement” on Burma and the trial of Suu Kyi.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said that the release of Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma was needed as a step toward national reconciliation and a credible national election in 2010.

On Thursday, a respected Thai political scientist, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, wrote in the English-language newspaper Bangkok Post, saying the Burmese regime was in “flagrant and fundamental violation of the Asean Charter's Section 7 of Article 1 on democracy, good governance and the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

He said the more democratic Asean member countries should carry out “tangible punitive steps to redress Burma’s blatant violation of Charter provisions in order to restore the grouping's credibility.”

Burma ignores all condemnations and international criticism, Pongsudhirak said, and statements of “concern” alone are not enough.

He called for a temporary suspension of Burma's membership in Asean.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too