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ASEAN plays low against Myanmar

New Delhi, Sat, 17 Nov 2007 Deepak Mohanty

Newstrack India

Nov 17: The Associations of South East Asians Nations (ASEAN) played safe in taking any tough stand against Myanmar, disregarding US Senate appeal to suspend military junta rule in Myanmar from the 40 years old international body as long as its human rights situation improves.

Leaders of the 10-member associations ASEAN expressed a deep concern for reaching a common ground in encouraging national reconciliation in Myanmar, but no direct cancellation of membership for its inhuman September crackdown of a pro-democratic peaceful protest, has not been made yet.

Earlier US senate unanimously adopted a resolution and urged ASEAN members to act straight on Myanmar and compel to facilitate democratic process and stop junta in suppressing protestors violently.

This is not for the first time that US is opposing Myanmar’s membership in ASEAN as it had opposed during the time of its entry into the association. ASEAN accepted Burma’s membership downplaying US and European Union’s opposition.

Singapore Prime Minister and Chairman of the association Lee Hsien Loong said that the situation in Myanmar is "not sustainable," “ASEAN influence on Myanmar is limited as Myanmar prefers to work with United Nations (UN) rather than us”, he said.

The Members of association though opposed military crackdown but doesn’t want to review Myanmar’s membership and consider appropriate disciplinary measures on the basis of erosion of human rights.

The association has also asked Myanmar’s closest neighbours China and India to encourage Myanmar to co-operate UN Secretary-General's special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari and to start a process of democratic set up.

It is also important to note down that despite being the premier body of Southeast Asian nations, it has so far failed to address such a central issue in restoring democracy and releasing political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of main opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD).

Founded in 1967 ASEAN has 10 members consisting of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam and later evolved as a common platform for economic growth, regional cooperation and promotion of internal peace. Myanmar was included in July 23, 1997.

Meanwhile, as per the report of UN human rights investigator, at least 15 people were killed in the September crack down in the city of Yangon. Earlier Myanmar junta had agreed to allow UN’s Special investigator Paulo Sergio Pinheiro to Myanmar, who visited several monasteries and prisons.

Prior to Pinheiro’s visit the UN had demanded a free access to prisons and other central bases of people including monasteries to have a better tally of the number of people killed and detained in the crackdown. He will submit his complete report to UN in the coming month.

However, the stand of ASEAN not to interfere in the internal matters of its members is a surprising and uncalled one, as one of its members is facing stern human rights violation.

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