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Burma crisis: New letter urges Southeast Asian Nations to act

‘ASEAN’ members in New York must not ignore violence

Amnesty International has sent an open letter to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in New York today urging them to take prompt and effective action to protect the right to peaceful demonstration in Burma.

The call came in a letter from Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan in a bid to avoid a further escalation of violence and human rights violations following reports of the killing of up to nine demonstrators in the current crisis in Burma.

Amnesty International remains gravely concerned that peaceful protests by tens of thousands of people calling for reform in Burma are being met with violent repression, aggravating an already grave human rights situation and posing serious threats to peace and security in ASEAN and the wider region.

Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan said:

"The current situation demands resolute interventions to prevent the threat of massive human rights violations. By using its influence to ensure the Burmese authorities respect human rights, ASEAN will send a crucial signal to its member states and the world that it is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights.

"This is particularly pertinent as the Foreign Ministers are meeting in New York to discuss, among other issues, the draft of an ASEAN Charter enshrining common standards of behaviour for all member states.”

In her letter to ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong, Ms Khan urged ASEAN leaders to address the outstanding human rights issues in the country, including the long-term suppression of freedom of expression. She insisted that ASEAN leaders should also pressure the Burma authorities for the unconditional and immediate release of all of those arbitrarily detained in the peaceful demonstrations calling for political change.

Ms Khan reminded ASEAN leaders of their 1967 founding Declaration which states that the aims and purposes of the Association include the “promotion of regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter”.

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