(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): South-East Asians concerned about democracy and human rights should commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 8-8-88 uprising of pro-democracy activists in Burma by asking their governments to pressurise the Burmese military junta to embark on a politcial dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi
Ten years ago, the people of Burma had enough of over two decades of the repressive regime of the Burmese military rulers and millions of them came out onto the streets demanding democracy and the right to live in a society that respected human rights.
The militlary junta's response was military force and hundreds and probably thousands of unarmed demonstrators were gunned down by the army, which declared martial law.
The recent six-day car sit-in protest by Burmese Opposition Leader and Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, which has again put the international spotlight on Burma, showed that the people of Burma has still a very long distance to travel in order to enjoy the minimum of human rights and democratic freedoms.
It is a sign of weakness rather than strength that the military junta should be so afraid of Aung San Suu Kyi that it had to deprive her the right to travel freely in her own country to meet members of her National League for Democracy (NLD).
I have received reports that more than 50 Burmese opposition politicians had staged a sit-in demonstration two days ago to protest against restrictions by the ruling military council (SPDC) on entering Aung San Suu Kyi's compound. The peaceful protest was staged at one of the checkpoints near Aung San Suu Kyi's compound. It is reported that such demonstrations would be going on all week.
Malaysia and other ASEAN Governments should protest at the latest SPDC action to impose house arrest on Aung San Suu Kyi to prevent her from leaving her house in Rangoon on Saturday to visit NLD members and supporters on the occasion of the 10th anniversary supporters of the August 8, 1988 uprising of pro-democracy activists.
A SPDC official had threatened that it would be very unwise for Suu Kyi to try to venture out from her house in Rangoon on Saturday as it could be "dangerous" for her.
Malaysia and the other ASEAN countries should make it crystal clear to the Burmese military junta that the world community would hold them fully responsible for the safety and life of Aung San Suu Kyi if any harm should come to Aung San Suu Kyi in the exercise of her fundamental right to move freely in her own country - which would include suspension or expulsion from ASEAN.