June 8, 2004

 

DECLARATION OF THE REGIONAL STRATEGY MEETING ON BURMA

 

We, the participants of the Regional Strategy Meeting on Burma, from 40 organisations in 10 countries*, met for 2 days in June in Thailand,

 

AFFIRM THAT:

 

    * The democratisation of Burma is integral to freedom and democracy in the entire region.

 

    * Tripartite dialogue premised on observance of human rights and democratic principles is essential to genuine National Reconciliation.

 

    * Free and fair elections are a cornerstone to any democratic state, therefore the outcome of the 1990 multi-party elections organised by the military regime must be acknowledged.

 

    * Asean is a key actor in determining the future of Burma, and therefore the future of this region.

 

    * Asean and the international community need to focus more effort and resources to advocate effectively for genuine reforms in Burma.

 

    * Sanctions, particularly economic sanctions, are vital non-military options to support the democracy movement in Burma. Hence, the continuation and expansion of such sanctions are needed.

 

RECOGNISE THAT:

 

    * The National Convention (NC) currently taking place in Burma is inherently illegitimate.

 

    * The NC has degenerated to a mass detention of more than a thousand people, lacking a shred of credibility. With this, the regime has effectively doubled the number of political prisoners in the country.

 

    * The SPDC's conduct of the NC and the imposition of bizarre rules are desperate measures designed to prevent any opportunity for delegates to absent themselves. The junta's fear of further losing credibility over the NC is proof that it is sensitive to international opinion and pressure.

 

DEPLORE:

 

    * The SPDC's continuing abuse of the human rights of the peoples of Burma. Extrajudicial killings, looting, forced labour, forced relocation and sexual abuse of women by the military, particularly in the ethnic nationality areas, continue unabated. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people continue to be denied the right to grow food to feed themselves.

 

    * The regime's continuing complicity in allowing drug production, trafficking and money laundering to thrive.

 

    * The junta's continuing aggressive program of military expansion, including procurements of arms and expertise from Ukraine, Serbia, China, India, Russia, Singapore and North Korea, which has exacerbated the severe problems caused by its economic mismanagement.

 

    * The SPDC's refusal to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo, consequently destroying conditions conducive to meaningful discussion and dialogue, further, the regime's conduct of the NC, which will lead to greater domestic polarisation and undermine National Reconciliation.

 

    * The international community's willingness to allow the regime to play off the interests of governments against each other, in order to prolong its own oppressive rule.

 

    * Actions by governments of the region that legitimise the Burmese junta, including recognition of the Burmese generals as heads of state, and provision of economic and political assistance to the regime.

 

WELCOME:

 

    * The flexibility and commitment to dialogue exhibited by the NLD and key political parties, and their courage to act decisively in the face of intimidation and harassment when the regime refused to abide by its own promises.

 

    * The cease-fire groups' public criticism of the NC.

 

    * The continuing commitment of the pro-democracy movement inside Burma, including ethnic nationality groups, to democracy, peace and a federal state.

 

    * The continuing efforts of exiled and refugee groups from Burma to promote democracy, peace and a federal state, despite intimidation and harassment.

 

EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT IN:

 

    * The United Nations Special Envoy, for failing to act decisively and effectively. This has prolonged political repression and the violation of human rights in Burma.

 

    * Asean's practice of unconditional engagement, which has only served to encourage the regime to further oppress the peoples of Burma. In doing so, the regional grouping has disempowered itself and undermined capacity to resolve conflicts in its own constituency. Burma's current situation is proof that Asean's position is a miserable failure.

 

    * The refusal of Asean member states to recognise the rights of asylum-seekers and human rights activists from Burma, in contravention of the 1998 UN General Assembly Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The security threats have been worsening in the past year, particularly in Thailand and Malaysia. Further, we are gravely concerned at the inability of the UNHCR to provide adequate protection to a significant number of asylum seekers from Burma.

 

DEMAND THAT THE SPDC:

 

    * Halt the NC and instead, create conditions that will be conducive to a genuine tripartite dialogue leading to a peaceful, political solution in Burma.

 

    * Declare a unilateral nationwide cease-fire and stop military violations in the ethnic nationality areas.

 

    * Release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo and leaders of ethnic nationality groups, further that it allow all political parties to function freely.

 

    * Allow an independent investigation of the Depayin Massacre.

 

URGE ASEAN GOVERNMENTS AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO:

 

    * Cease providing the regime with resources, including arms, equipment or technical expertise that can be used for internal repression.

 

    * Withdraw support for the NC and the regime's roadmap, and instead, insist on tripartite dialogue premised on observance of human rights and democratic principles.

 

    * Insist that the SPDC release all political prisoners and declare a nationwide cease-fire.

 

    * Develop and implement a decisive, coordinated range of actions, including the strengthening of the will and ability of the UN, to actively contribute to the genuine democratisation of Burma, and hence greater stability to the region.

 

    * Actively support the efforts of key individuals and groups, particularly the elected representatives of the peoples of Burma, to promote democracy and human rights.

 

In particular, we call upon Asean parliamentarians to take up the cause of their colleagues in Burma, who have been elected yet denied the opportunity to serve the will of their constituencies. Further, we urge the governments to recognize the elected members of parliament as legitimate representatives of Burma.

 

We also urge Asean to disqualify the SPDC from chairing the regional bloc in 2006, in the absence of irreversible steps to achieve National Reconciliation, and political and economic reforms.

 

CONFIRM OUR ENDORSEMENT FOR EFFORTS TO:

 

    * Achieve a peaceful, political solution in Burma by key individuals and groups.

 

    * Sustain and enhance engagement between Asean and Burmese democrats.

 

    * Convene an international commission to investigate the Depayin Massacre.

 

    * Sustain and widen sanctions against the military regime, including economic sanctions and an embargo on military equipment and expertise.

 

    * Halt military violations, including landmine use in Burma. In this context, we encourage all military combatants to cooperate with the efforts of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

 

    * Ensure that humanitarian assistance requires clear accountability, transparency and unhindered and direct access to communities in need, and is not used to subsidize or legitimize the regime in any way.

 

    * Build capacity in the movement and the region to develop and implement strategies that will sustain and expand democratic processes.

 

    * Increase the political participation of women and youth.

 

    * Support the work of the women of Burma and their allies to address the critical problem of sexual abuse and violence against women.

 

Finally, we reiterate our unwavering commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We make this declaration believing that Burma's struggle is our own struggle for freedom.


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* NOTE: The participants at this meeting came from 40 organisations in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

 

The groups included the Alliance of Progressive Labour, Altsean-Burma, ARDA (Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia), Burma Indonesia Solidarity, FORUM-ASIA, Initiatives for International Dialogue, Peace & Human Rights Resource Centre, Solidamor & SUARAM. Political parties at the meeting included the Singapore Democratic PArty, Sam Rainsy Party and Parti Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia.

 

Owing to security considerations, not all organisations can be named.