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"Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma"
Burma Hot Topic at ASEAN Peoples' Forum and lead-up to ASEAN Summit
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
Before the ASEAN summit began, over 500 civil society leaders from throughout Southeast Asia gathered on October 18-20 at the 2nd ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF), with Burma dominating discussions about democratization, human rights, and regional stability. Officials from ASEAN governments were expected to come and dialogue with civil society, building bridges between governments and independent civil society and collectively finding solutions for the region. In the end, all but one government official backed out.
SPDC-backed civil society representatives from Burma, including such organizations as the USDA, were present at the ASEAN People’s Forum and insisted that Burma should not be singled out and that its problems are “internal issues." The APF is meant to be an independent forum, free from governments’ control and the comment was met with overwhelming disapproval from civil society from throughout the region, which insisted that armed conflict, refugee and drug crises were spilling over to neighboring countries.
Civil society groups attending the APF composed a collective statement aimed at ASEAN leaders that called on the military junta in Burma to take concrete steps towards national reconciliation. The statement supported the calls of the Task Force on ASEAN and Burma (TFAB), demanding that “ASEAN must take firm measures to ensure that before the 2010 elections in Myanmar/ Burma, there is genuine political dialogue between all stakeholders, as well as an inclusive review of the unilaterally written 2008 constitution.” The statement also reiterated a provision of the ASEAN Charter, which states that serious breaches of the Charter should be referred to the Summit.
At the APF, Venerable Ashin Sopaka from the International Burmese Monks Organization (IBMO) said that ASEAN’s policy of non-interference in regards to Burma is irrelevant and outdated. He went on to say ASEAN “cannot continue its policy of economic engagement without being responsible for a parallel political engagement.”
During the ASEAN People’s Forum, caucuses for each country convened to decide on a civil society representative for an “interface” with ASEAN heads of government, scheduled for October 23rd. Khin Ohmar was chosen to represent Burma at this important meeting. However, on the eve of the interface, it was announced that Burma’s civil society representative, along with those from Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, and Singapore, had been rejected for the meeting. In February’s interface, only Burma and Cambodia’s representatives were barred from the meeting.
It is time for ASEAN to stop fearing the independent voice of the people, and work to live up to the aim of the ASEAN Charter to create a truly "people-centered" region.
Burma Partnership Secretariat
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|By KYAW ZWA MOE|
|Asean leaders meeting in Thailand must recognize that their own engagement policy with Burma isn’t working.|
|QUOTE OF THE DAY|
| Creating a peaceful, just and inclusive solution is the key to sustainable reconciliation in Burma. |
—Andrew Heyn, the new British ambassador to Burma
|By SIMON ROUGHNEEN|
|As officials open the Asean summit meeting, hoping for a constructive session, the US captures some of the spotlight by announcing a “fact-finding” trip to Burma.|
|By SIMON ROUGHNEEN|
| Tensions between two neighboring members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have made the grouping’s latest summit uncharacteristically edgy. |
|By THE IRRAWADDY|
| Andrew Heyn, the new British ambassador to Burma, met with Aung San Suu Kyi recently to discuss the issue of Western sanctions on the military-ruled country. |
|By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS|
| Thailand's 81-year-old King appeared in public for the first time since he was hospitalized more than a month ago, providing welcome relief among well-wishers in the politically divided nation. |
|By LALIT K JHA|
|No decision has been taken on how the next round of talks between US and Burmese officials will be organized or who will be participating in it.|
Leaders of Southeast Asian nations on Friday inaugurated a new regional human rights body as they kicked off the meeting at the 15th ASEAN summit in Hua Hin,... A special court in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison on Friday heard two prosecution witnesses in the trial of Burmese born American Kyaw Zaw Lwin (a.k.a) Nyi Nyi Aung. Kyi Win,......
Member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have rejected a proposed meeting with five civil society representatives, including a Burmese delegate,...
A United Nations human rights expert on Thursday announced he will make another visit to military-ruled Burma, whose human rights situation remains “alarming”. Tomás Ojea Quintana,...
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