Monday, May 25, 2009

Burma 'necessitates' foreign intervention

(DVB)–The political and humanitarian crisis in Burma has reached a point whereby it is affecting neighbouring countries and therefore justifies foreign interference, said the head of a pan-Asian coalition group on Burma.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, of which Burma is a contentious member, has come under fire recently for its policy of non-interference after refusing to go beyond vocal criticism of the trial of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thailand, who holds the revolving chair of ASEAN, expressed “grave concern” last week but said it would not use strong measures or economic sanctions to pressure the regime into releasing Suu Kyi.

But Debbie Stothard, coordinator of Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma), says that the non-interference policy should not apply to Burma.

“We see that the situation in Burma is not just a domestic affair,” she said, adding that millions of refugees have left Burma for neighbouring countries.

“So this is a situation you must interfere in; if you don’t interfere all the other countries will also be affected.”

The comments were backed by Thai MP, Kraisak Choonhavan, who also heads the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus.

“I think it necessitates international or forced intervention,” he said.

“It would be very difficult to arrive at that, but now there is a movement of those who want to protect the people of Burma by bringing the International Criminal Court (ICC) into play.

“If they [ICC] are in their right mind and they go through the facts, there is no denying that [junta leader] Than Shwe and his cronies should be persecuted at the ICC.

“But politics gets in the way – Russia and China always opposes that, and that is the biggest obstacle to overcome.”

Reporting by Soe Naing and Francis Wade

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