Free Burma Coalition urges ASEAN to start “human rights monitoring” in Burma

Members of Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Phils) today held a
press conference in Manila and urged ASEAN to begin monitoring the human rights situation of each ASEAN member states starting with military-ruled Burma (Myanmar).

The ASEAN already announced the inclusion of a provision in the ASEAN
Charter that mandates the creation of a human rights body. Activists who advocate for the restoration of genuine peace and democracy in Burma urged the 10-member regional bloc to start engaging its member Burma on the issue of human rights.
The FBC-Phils presscon is in line with today’s 14th Asean Regional Forum (ARF). The group explained that “human rights monitoring” must be started immediately to prime up the regional bloc for an effective and credible human rights body that is yet to be set up by the ASEAN.

Gus Miclat, convenor of the FBC-Phils said, “We challenge the ASEAN to start monitoring the human rights situation in Burma. The ASEAN should send teams inside Burma and around the borders to look into the real situation of the people; talk to the villagers, political prisoners and activists; and investigate state mechanisms that perpetuate human rights violations. It must directly engage the military junta in mapping out incidences of human rights violations and upgrading the policy environment that will protect and promote human security.” “This way, ASEAN members can assert their credibility and commitment to the goals of the human rights body,” he added.

The group also urged delegates of the 14th ARF Meeting to talk about the human rights status in Burma. “All the ASEAN processes and mechanisms including ARF should go beyond the usual agenda of simply forging new trade and security agreements. The ARF should likewise put on table matters that involve human rights,” Miclat stressed.The Philippines is hosting the series of regional meetings at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City from July 29 to August 2. This will be the last big ASEAN meeting the Philippines is hosting as it ends its term as ASEAN Chair.


The group also reiterated the international community’s demand for the
immediate and unconditional release of Burmese democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi saying that Aung San Suu Kyi has a vital role to play in bringing back peace and democracy in Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 62, has spent 11 of the last 17 years of her political life under house arrest in Burma, this, amid increasingly vocal international demands for her immediate and unconditional release. She has been under detention since May 2003.

“The continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi shows of the junta’s
cowardice to face the leader of the opposition in Burma. But the junta
is digging its own grave because this action will surely spark more
disgusts inside Burma and more protests worldwide,” Miclat stressed.

“Though she remains a prisoner of Burma’s military regime, Aung San Suu Kyi remains a powerful symbol of her country’s struggle. She retains
moral high ground through her use of peaceful non-violent methods of
struggle and her courage continues to inspire legion of followers inside
Burma and throughout the world,” Miclat explained.

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