Burma: ASEAN leaders should act over Burma's appalling record

ASEAN’s reputation under threat over its inaction

Burma’s appalling human rights record is a serious breach of the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) charter and should top the agenda for the organisation’s summit which starts in Ha Noi, Vietnam, tomorrow (8 April), Amnesty International said today.

Donna Guest, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Programme Director, said: “It is clear that Burma has been seriously and systematically breaching the ASEAN charter’s human rights provisions. It is now up to the summit, under its new chair Vietnam, to address this breach as a matter of urgency.

“ASEAN’s reputation as a meaningful regional forum will suffer if it does not call for Burma to respect freedom of expression, assembly and association in the lead-up to the election.

“This summit is an opportunity for Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia to continue their demands for Burma to improve its human rights record.

The ASEAN summit’s final statement should include a clear condemnation of Burma’s human rights record. “The 10 members of ASEAN should also continue to press Burma to halt the increasing repression of activists, particularly from the country’s large ethnic minority community.”

ASEAN has urged Burma’s military government to free all political prisoners and deliver free, fair and inclusive election in 2010.

However, in recent weeks, Burma’s government has introduced election laws that have exacerbated the problem – barring hundreds of thousands of people, including at least 2,200 political prisoners, from meaningfully participating in the election.

The new election laws have drawn criticism from the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines, and resulted in an election boycott by the National League for Democracy, the main Burma opposition party headed by Aung San Suu Kyi.

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