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Burma must include all in the “Road to Democracy”

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Through its new constitution, the State Peace and Development Council
(SPDC) of Burma plans to exclude pro-democratic leaders from the 2010
election. In a letter on 29 February, Burma Partnership urged leaders
of ASEAN countries “not only to condemn the Burmese government on its
decision, but also to reject its illegitimate constitution”.

ASEAN Should Ensure That All Are Included In The ‘Road to Democracy’ In Burma!

To: ASEAN Heads of State,

H.M. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang di Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam
H.E. Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
H.E. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia
H.E. Bounyang Vorachith, Prime Minister of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos
H.E. Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of Republic of the Philippines
H.E. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore
H.E. Samak Suntaravej, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
H.E. Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam


Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Ms. Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar
Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar
Mr. Homayoun Alizadeh, OHCHR Regional Representative for Southeast Asia

Subject: ASEAN Should Ensure That All Are Included In The ‘Road to Democracy’ In Burma!

Burma’s Political Processes Must Be Inclusive!

We, representing nine national and regional organisations under the banner of Burma Partnership, stand against the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)’s decision through its new constitution to exclude the pro-democratic leaders, particularly Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, from the 2010 election. We believe that the reasons given by the SPDC are absolutely unacceptable. We urge ASEAN not only to condemn the Burmese government on its decision, but also to reject its illegitimate constitution.

The Burma Partnership welcomes the concern expressed by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers during their retreat in Singapore on 20 February 2008. We agree that it is “odd” to exclude Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the 2010 because of her marriage to a foreigner. ASEAN should view this as an internal matter, as the process goes against the ASEAN Charter that has just been inaugurated. We urge ASEAN to take a stronger approach to ensure that all are included in the democratic process in Burma, including members of ethnic groups. We also call on ASEAN to reject the unilaterally-drafted constitution made by the SPDC.

The SPDC has shown that their intention is to continue to exclude opposition voices from the election processes, just as it did during the National Convention where many ethnic groups and pro-democracy oppositions were not represented. We urge your governments to take an active role in implementing the resolution of the 6th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which called for the release of all political detainees in Burma. We demand that your governments take Burma issues as your responsibility to protect the people living in Burma.

We believe that the ASEAN is the most relevant body to address these issues. It is the responsibility of this intergovernmental organisation to be more proactive in raising concerns and responding to the situation in Burma. We strongly feel that this is the vital time for ASEAN to maintain the creation of a “Caring and Sharing” regional community.

The ASEAN Charter includes upholding the principles of democracy and rule of law. ASEAN members need to push the SPDC to respect the principle of non-discrimination and of freedom of assembly, expression and information. We urge the ASEAN governments to call on the SPDC to uphold democracy and rule of law. If ASEAN fails to do so, ASEAN will be seen as failing in implementing the Charter in pursuing democracy and human rights in the region.

In light of the ratification of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN as a regional entity must make a clear and critical position regarding Burma’s continuous human rights violations and its disregard for its citizens’ participation. The people of Burma have waited long enough for democracy and full political participation; ASEAN should not let them wait any longer.

For more information, please contact:
Khin Ohmar, Coordinator, Burma Partnership, +6681 884 0772, [email protected]

About Burma Partnership

Burma Partnership is a movement of organisations and individuals that aims to develop a strong broad-based partnership of peoples of the Asia-Pacific advocating and mobilising a movement for promoting freedom, democracy and human rights in Burma. This movement facilitates strategic linkages, coordinates activities, develops and shares its capacity and resources, channels information resources, and promotes dialogue towards unified approaches.

Members of the Burma Partnership Working Group:
• Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB)
• Nationalities Youth Forum (NYF)
• Students and Youths Congress of Burma (SYCB)
• Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Philippines)
• Burma Campaign Korea (BCK)
• Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma)
• Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
• Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)