Support a UN Commission of Inquiry into international crimes in Myanmar not next weekend’s general election


Your Excellencies,

The 17th ASEAN Summit has concluded, and, as elected representatives of the peoples of ASEAN, we are disappointed by its outcome and by your passivity in the face of this weekend’s election in Myanmar.

The election is about to be conducted under a new constitution, enacted in 2008, which was drafted by an assembly whose members were handpicked by the country’s current ruling military regime and conducted without open and inclusive input from the people of Myanmar. The constitution is designed to assure the continued dominance of the military regime under the guise of a democratically elected civilian government, notably reserving one-quarter of seats in parliament for the military.

Additionally, five electoral laws and four decrees promulgated earlier this year violate democratic principles by restricting current political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other key leaders of the country’s democracy and ethnic movement, from participating in the polls.

In light of this, Myanmar’s general election can in no way be acknowledged as conforming to internationally accepted standards of freedom and fairness. They are a farce and a non-election for the country’s people. Your hopes that Myanmar will open up the process and create conditions conducive to free and fair elections less than a week before they are due to take place are therefore misguided.

During your deliberations in Hanoi, you also failed to take into account the continued detention of more than 2,200 political prisoners, ongoing armed conflicts, tensions and abuses in ethnic nationality areas and the absence of dialogue between all stakeholders in Myanmar’s political process. As we have already stated to you, we do not believe that elections under oppression can bring peace. Instead, they are a route to increasing violence and growing instability.

As members of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), we urge you not to support Myanmar’s upcoming election, nor should you accept or acknowledge in any way as legitimate the results of this election.

As a signatory to the ASEAN Charter, Myanmar has agreed to support and uphold certain principles, including adherence to the principles of democracy and constitutional government and the promotion and protection of human rights. Myanmar is clearly failing to uphold the principles to which it agreed when signing the Charter.

ASEAN should no longer let itself be fooled. All the evidence suggests the 2010 election will simply entrench military rule with a civilian face. Instead of pinning any hopes on this election, we urge you to support an international call for a Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices to look into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Myanmar and to work for the establishment of such a commission of inquiry at this moment and not after the holding of elections that do not meet international standards.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made public the U.S. government’s commitment to seek accountability for the human rights violations that have occurred in Myanmar. Her call for action on 28 October, 2010 in Hawaii marks a commitment by the U.S. to move from rhetoric to action towards addressing gross and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Myanmar. In this, she is already joined by more than 12 governments worldwide who have publicly voiced their support for such a commission of inquiry in Myanmar.

We now expect you to act. We urge you to support the EU annual Myanmar resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, which is currently in session in New York, and to be among the nations committed to the establishment of an international commission of inquiry in Myanmar.

It is sometimes said that such a commission of inquiry could be counterproductive and derail the process of peaceful democratization in Myanmar. This is a false dichotomy.
We could not agree more with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, who recently stated to the UN General Assembly that “failing to act on accountability in Myanmar will embolden the perpetrators of international crimes and further postpone long-overdue justice”.

It is time to reconsider the notion of ASEAN solidarity. Solidarity – brotherhood and sisterhood – cannot be built on a foundation of repression and harsh human rights violations. ASEAN solidarity should be for the people of Myanmar whose fate lies in the hands of a brutal military regime. ASEAN’s tolerance of the brutality of the regime and the regime’s manipulation of ASEAN’s principle of solidarity sets a bad precedence for efforts to ensure ASEAN accountability to human rights principles and standards.

We urge you to heed the call of the UN Special Rapporteur to act. Justice and democracy go together. There can be no democracy in Myanmar without an end to abuses and impunity.

Sincerely yours,

Kraisak Choonhavan
President, ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus

Fully endorsed by all AIPMC national chapters, in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Done in Bangkok, 4 November 2010

  1. #1 by dawsheng on Sunday, 7 November 2010 - 12:04 pm

    How can it not be a farce when the way UN conducted itself is full of buffoonery and horseplay. Take the Afghanistan and Iraq war for example, what a tragedy it is, and what did the UN do about it? People should realized by now that they cannot depend on politicians to resolve problems, the only thing they do is create problems and prolong it. Never mind!

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