(Petaling Jaya, Monday): ASEAN leaders must hold their heads in shame that they and their governments are silent and indifferent when the world is outraged by the latest Myanmese military junta crackdown against Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD).
Suu Kyi was forced to return to Yangon after a nine-day roadside confrontation with the Myanmese military junta just outside the capital. She had left Yangon on August 24 to try to visit supporters.
It has been reported that security around the headquarters of the NLD and residences of Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders were tightened yesterday with dozens of police deployed in the area and about 50 officers outside party offices.
Foreign diplomats believed that the NLD leaders were under house arrest and their telephones had all been cut off. Diplomatic access to Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders had also been denied.
The United States, Britain and the 15-member European Union have all condemned the new crackdown in Myanmar while the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had again expressed his "deep concern" over the "involuntary return" of Suu Kyi and the NLD leaders to Yangon and the infringement of their freedom of movement and expression.
Emphasizing "the need to respect the human rights" of the opposition leaders and "the necessity for national reconciliation", Annan "urges the two sides to engage, as soon as possible, in a substantive political dialogue," as called for by the U.N. General Assembly and the Commission of Human Rights.
The peoples of ASEAN must put pressure on their governments not to continue to remain silent in the latest outrage against democracy and human rights by the Myanmese military junta and to demand collective ASEAN action to put pressure on the Myanmese State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to stop all harassment of Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD and to begin a national dialogue for national reconciliation and restoration of democracy.
The ASEAN policy of "constructive engagement" with Burma has been an unqualified failure, with the Myanmese military junta refusing to yield a single inch on the two key issues of national reconciliation and democratisation.
ASEAN must bear responsibility for the latest bout of political oppression in Myanmar as it failed to extract meaningful concessions from the Myanmese military junta when overriding regional and international opinion opposing Burma’s accession into ASEAN.
ASEAN Foreign Ministers should meet in emergency meeting, mindful that
the adverse international publicity about the latest military excesses
in Burma cannot but cast a most adverse reflection on the ASEAN regional
grouping, and propose a formula for democratisation and national reconciliation
in Burma to the SPDC.