(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Former UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, Professor Yozo Yokota, should make clear his stand whether he gives unconditional support for the entry of Myanmar into ASEAN.
Bernama reported that in his lecture at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, Yokota said Myanmar’s imminent membership in Asean could be the starting point for improving the human-rights situation in that country.
Yokota should explain what is the basis for his belief that Myanmr’s admission into Asean could be the starting point for improving the human rights situation in that country.
Yokota’s remarks have come as a shock to all in the region and even in the world who are concerned about democratisation in Burma, for as UN special rapporteur, he had been very critical of the military junta, State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), in refusing to comply with the most basic norms of civilized behaviour in respecting the human rights of its people.
Yokota seems to have performed a "somersault" and is now a strong advocate for Myanmar’s entry into ASEAN - despite his past criticisms of SLORC’s abysmal human rights record and the new wave of repression and human rights violations in Burma on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the 1990 general elections which was won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy by a landslide.
Yokota’s latest remarks on Burma is a dampener to efforts by Asean groups and peoples who are fighting great odds against establishment opinions and to urge ASEAN governments not to admit Myanmar into ASEAN this year and give legitimacy to the violations of democratic freedoms and human rights of the people of Burma by SLORC in the past seven years.
The ASEAN groups and peoples who want Burma’s admission into ASEAN to be deferred until SLORC co-operates with the ASEAN nations to make the ASEAN "constructive engagement" policy show tangible positive results by way of democratic reforms and national reconciliation with the ethnic minorities feel greatly let-down by Yokota, as they had expected at least moral support from him. Instead, they find Yokota’s remarks being used to undermine their campaign for democracy and human rights in Burma. I do not know whether Yokota has been misquoted by Bernama, but he owes it to himself and to his former fans who had admired his good work when he was UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma to fully explain and justify his position on the question of Burma’s entry into ASEAN at this time.