Friday, November 23, 2007

Burma: Open letter to ASEAN leaders

For the past five decades, it has been carrying out various abuses including forced labour, unlawful arrests and imprisonment, rape, torture, murder and genocide. With the world as our witness, our government's viciousness culminated in a brutal crackdown this September. Despite being unarmed and non-violent, monks and civilians were attacked, simply for protesting for the peace and democracy that many First World countries take for granted. As we cautiously welcome the recent positive gestures made by the ruling State Peace and Development Council, we seek alongside them your support for the following to be implemented:

1.The immediate and unconditional release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years. This is the litmus test for the world to see the sincerity of the SPDC.

2. The release of all activists, monks and prisoners of conscience in Burma, and the assurance of the government to not detain or torture anyone for political expression or dissent.

3. A genuine, tripartite dialogue between respective parties that will lead to national reconciliation being implemented within the given time frame. To prevent this issue from being dragged on indefinitely, the government must cease tactics that would cause any further impediments.

4. To work towards economic stability by lowering basic commodity prices and making them more affordable for the general populace. Due to massive, uncontrollable inflation, many families are barely surviving on their meagre, stagnant incomes. Too many people, including children, have also been left starving on the streets of Burma. For its part, Asean should concentrate on establishing regional economic stability rather than allowing member countries to serve their own self-interest.

5. While the recent selective sanctions carried out by the West have had significant impact on the junta and its associates, Professor Gambari has rightfully stressed the importance of continual pressure from the international community. We hope that Asean will also keep up this pressure towards the junta instead of engaging it with the same business-as-usual attitude.

We appreciate your involvement and sympathy with our cause, and sincerely hope that you will take into full consideration each and every one of our requests. Unless Asean abandons its non-interference policy and takes firm action on members that violate basic human rights, we Burmese citizens will never get to taste the freedom and prosperity that you, our neighbours, currently enjoy. Please use your freedom to promote ours.

Concerned Citizens of Burma