88 generation students urge ASEAN pressure

Nov 20, 2007 (DVB), The 88 generation students have sent a letter to ASEAN leaders at the start of the 13th ASEAN summit to encourage them to take action against human rights abuses in Burma.

The letter was sent yesterday as the summit opened, and was signed by three 88 generation student leaders, Tun Myint Aung, Nilar Thein and Soe Htun.

The group said they welcomed the statement issued by ASEAN heads of state on 27 September, which expressed revulsion at the brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations protestors and demanded that the regime cease the use of violence against protestors.

However, given the ongoing human rights abuses against those involved in the demonstrations, the group asked that ASEAN leaders continued to put pressure on the regime.

The group expressed scepticism about the government's political will to engage with the opposition and international community, and urged ASEAN to take specific steps to help the situation in Burma.

"[W]e urge ASEAN, as a vital stakeholder and significant actor to clearly reject the SPDC's sponsored roadmap to democracy, and take on a stronger role in pressuring the military regime to start a genuine dialogue process towards national reconciliation," the letter said.

"In addition, we ask ASEAN to stop its financial support and economic cooperation with the SPDC, and instead work with the UN, US, EU and other countries to resolve the crisis in Burma," it continued.

"If the military regime continues to ignore the international community's efforts and fail to produce tangible outcomes, we would also like you to consider the suspension of the SPDC from ASEAN."

The letter also welcomed the support for human rights principles included in the planned ASEAN charter, but questioned the credibility of the agreement if action was not taken against those states who violated these norms.

One of the 88 generation student leaders who signed the letter, Soe Htun, told DVB that they had sent the letter to convince ASEAN to pressure the Burmese regime to respect human rights and pursue national reconciliation.

"We sent this letter to the ASEAN so that the Southeast Asian body’s leaders can take action on the human right violations in Burma and increase their pressure on the junta to start a dialogue necessary for the national reconciliation," said Soe Htun.

"We would like to point out a fact to ASEAN; a country’s domestic problems can also affect the region’s stability. If they keep doing business with the Burmese junta which is violating human rights, that is against the international community’s will," he said.

"We would like to see ASEAN cooperate constructively with the international community."

Reporting by Aye Nai

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