(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The release
of the vice chairman of Burmese opposition National League
for Democracy (NLD), Tin Oo and all 85 of the opposition youth wing members who were thrown in jail four months ago after joining in a protest staged by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is another welcome news after the recent success in mediation by United Nations special envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail, although it is too premature to conclude that the country’s ruling junta is fully set on the course towards national reconciliation and the restoration of democracy.
The Myanmese State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) should immediately release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, to pave the way for a tripartite conference involving the ruling junta, the NLD and the ethnic groups to resolve once and for all the problems facing Burma to enable the country to return to the mainstream of international society and intercourse.
NLD and other democracy activists living abroad should be allowed to return to Burma to join their respective groups without any conditions to participate in the task of national reconciliation.
Burma is facing a multitude of crises, including a grave economic crisis, with the Burmese currency, the kyat, rapidly depreciating amid economic stagnation and dwindling investment.
For the first time, the military junta has publicly acknowledged that the growing Aids epidemic has become a scourge in the country - with estimates ranging from 530,000 to one million of Burma’s 48 million people being HIV-positive.
These add to the urgency for ASEAN and the international community to pressure the SPDC to agree to a road-map and time-table for the restoration of democracy in Burma to end the long-standing sufferings of the Burmese people.