ASEAN: Time to act on Myanmar
Din Merican’s blog
THE AUNG SAN SUU KYI VERDICT: ASEAN MUST
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KEADILAN) condemns the guilty verdict and harsh prison sentence handed down by the Burmese court yesterday in the case against Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma.
While the guilty verdict was fully expected, it is nevertheless deeply disappointing, especially as the case had offered a precious opportunity for the military junta to gracefully make some significant steps towards change.
Instead, the junta continues to violate human rights and poses as a threat to regional peace and security (the military regime is suspected of secretly exploring nuclear capabilities).
The court decision came as the grand finale of a carefully orchestrated charade, with political manipulation being unconvincingly dressed up as a judicial process. The junta leaders evidently felt the heat of international outrage to the point that they immediately announced that her 3-year hard labour prison sentence was commuted to 18 months under house arrest.
Despite their reduction of the sentence, we believe the Burmese military regime acted with malicious intent.Their main aim has always been to ensure that Aung San Suu Kyi would not be able to play a role in next year’s general election, and they have not budged an inch on this.
The connection of this case to the elections was further underlined by the government’s justification of her continued detention, saying that true supporters of democracy do not want them to be marred by riots and unrest. It should be remembered that there are still thousands of political opponents languishing in prison, and it is safe to assume that they will remain there for the same purpose.
The world is again outraged, but it is ASEAN which stands to lose in real terms, being guilty by association. Thus, ASEAN must take firm and prompt action to bring their recalcitrant member into line, especially with the human rights principles stated in the ASEAN Charter – a major step which could improve the current poor standing of ASEAN nations in the world.
If ASEAN still wants to save the face of the junta’s leaders, they could do this by initiating a renewed communal effort towards enhancing standards of democracy and human rights in Burma.
WAN AZIZAH WAN ISMAIL
Parti Keadilan Rakyat