Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention has put ASEAN in the dock of international opinion, compromising its credibility and human rights record
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The military crackdown by the Myanmese military junta, with the detention of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters, the closure of National League for Democracy (NLD) offices, universities and colleges, have put ASEAN in the dock of international opinion, compromising its credibility and human rights record especially with the absence of any condemnation by ASEAN and its member nations.
The statement by the ASEAN secretary-general Ong Keng Yong in Putrajaya yesterday that as Myanmar is an ASEAN family member, “"You cannot go in and tell your family member you cannot do this, you cannot do that” is most craven, pathetic and completely unacceptable.
In fact, the opposite should be the case. Precisely because Myanmar is a family member of ASEAN, the other member states have a greater responsibility to speak out loud and clear that there should be no human rights violations or defiance of international commitments to restore democracy and work for national reconciliation in Burma which the military junta had undertaken on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in May last year.
The least all the ASEAN member states should do is to urgently call for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters after five days of detention, and it is a shame that the ASEAN governments have failed such a minimum test.
The ASEAN secretary-general is wrong in suggesting that the Myanmese military junta should be treated with “kid gloves” for its crackdown on the Burmese Opposition, when the strongest possible action should be contemplated, including putting on the agenda of the forthcoming ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on June 16-17 the suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN.
The visit of the United Nations envoy to Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, to Yangon on Friday to kickstart a political dialogue between the military junta and Aung San Suu Kyi has been overtaken by the military crackdown, making it irrelevant and meaningless. There can be no point whatsoever for Razali to travel to Burma, unless he gets assurance that he would be able to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi. Alternatively, Razali should travel to Yangon as scheduled on Friday and ask to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, and if refused, he should cancel his visit as a strong protest at the military junta’s intransigence in its refusal to be a responsible member of the international community of nations which honours its international obligations.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman