ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh June 16-17 should conduct in-depth review whether Myanmar military junta had misled ASEAN in past seven years to secure admission into ASEAN without honouring its commitment on democratization and national reconciliation in Burma
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Saturday): With the latest reports that more than 100 opposition supporters in Burma may have been killed in the clashes near Mandalay the previous Friday that led to the re-arrest of Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, despite the earlier claim by Myanmar’s State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of four deaths, the credibility of the military junta led by Than Shwe is at an all-time low.
It is now believed that government-hired thugs had wielded sharpened bamboo stakes and wooden clubs in an attack on the opposition members in the May 30 ambush nearly Mandalay in northern Burma.
With the refusal by the military junta so far to allow the United Nations envoy to Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail to meet Aung San Suu Kyi to verify her safety and condition because of reports that she could have sustained severe injuries in the clashes and the allegation by General Khin Nyunt, the country's powerful military intelligence chief, splashed across the front pages of all state-run newspapers today blaming the National League for Democracy (NLD) for corruption and the Mandalay violence, the purpose of Razali continuing with his Burmese visit must be questioned.
Yesterday, the Filipino Foreign Secretary Blas Ople said that the Burmese representative to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting on June 16-17 will be asked about his government’s treatment on the detained leader.
Such a weak response from the ASEAN leaders to the re-arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the crackdown on the Burmese Opposition and the reneging of the military junta’s commitment on democratization and national reconciliation is most abject and pathetic, dragging ASEAN’s international credibility and legitimacy into the gutter.
At minimum, all the other ASEAN governments should individually as well as collectively call on the military junta to immediately and unconditionally release Suu Kyi and her supporters, end the crackdown, demand an independent inquiry into the May 30 clashes and killings headed by the UN Envoy Razali Ismail, and if there are no acceptable responses from the SPDC, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh June 16-17 should schedule a special agenda to conduct an in-depth review whether Myanmar military junta had misled ASEAN in the past seven years to secure admission into ASEAN without honouring its commitments on democratization and national reconciliation in Burma
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman