Wednesday, June 3, 2009

ASEAN urged to pressure junta for democracy in Burma

by Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - ASEAN should use its charter and the ASEAN community should work out a mechanism to mount pressure on the Burmese military junta to usher in democracy in the country, a seminar in Bangkok concluded.

Several organizations including the Foreign Affairs Committee of The Senate of Thailand and the Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB) organized a conference “Roles of Thailand and ASEAN in Democracy Development in Burma; a case of Aung San Suu Kyi ” on Tuesday, in the Thai Parliament in Bangkok.

Surapong Chainam, Counselor of Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the outcome of the trial which was postponed to June 5 is predictible because there is no rule of law in Burma.

“This case is a significant test for the unity of ASEAN countries, particularly the ASEAN Charter which has several articles related to human rights issues, rules of law and good governance. It depends on ASEAN whether it would let the charter be only a paper or gain its holiness,” Surapong said according to a report in a Thai News Agency.

Meanwhile, Laddawan Tantiwittayapitak from TACDB said that ASEAN must use the charter beneficially to create justice for the people. “However, it’s hard work, so the ASEAN and Thai Parliament should collaborate to work on development of democracy in Burma such as to observe Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, impeach Burma from ASEAN membership or discuss with China which plays an important role vis a vis the Burmese government.”

He also added that Thailand’s statement on the trial was not interference with Burma’s internal affair and the member countries in ASEAN did not go against this action.

On Wednesday, 22 women members of the Thai Parliament petitioned Burma's junta to drop the current charges against democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and free her immediately.

"As a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and as a longstanding democracy advocate, Daw (Mrs) Aung San Suu Kyi has been an inspiration not only to women MPs in Thailand but also for all adherents and participants of democratic ideals worldwide," the 22 Thai women said in a statement which is the first such statement by a group of women MPs in Thai Parliament on a diplomatic matter.

"We believe her action, if committed, was an act out of mercy and out of her concern for a fellow human being. The incident warrants no trial of detention," the Thai MPs' letter to Burma's military rulers said.

"We, the undersigned women members of Thai Parliament, strongly urge for the unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees," it said.

There are 62 women MPs out of a total of 474 MPs in Thailand's Lower House.

Last week, 30 Thai senators also signed a petition urging for justice for Aung San Suu Kyi, which was submitted to the Prime Minister of Burma through the Burmese Embassy in Thailand to express their concern over the trial with their standpoint based on good relations between Thailand and Burma.

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