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BSGM's press statement on 14th Febr
Subject: BSGM's press statement on 14th February 1997 (fwd)
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Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 20:21:55 +0800 (SGT)
Subject: BSGM's press statement on 14th February 1997
BURMA SOLIDARITY GROUP MALAYSIA
February 14th, 1997
ASEAN urged to ditch "constructive engagement"
The Burma Solidarity Group Malaysia together with some 50 NGOs throughout
the ASEAN region urge Malaysia and other ASEAN member countries to ditch its
policy of so-called "constructive engagement" with the SLORC (State Law and
Order Restoration Council).
In a joint ASEAN campaign, the NGOs call upon the ASEAN Foreign Ministers
Meeting which is due to meet tomorrow in Singapore, to exclude Burma from
ASEAN as "constructive engagement" has thus far failed miserably in bringing
about democratic reforms in Burma.
The NGOs urge ASEAN to accept Burma as a member only when the military
junta accepts the results of the 1990 general elections which was
overwhelmingly won by the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu
And in commemoration with the 50th anniversary of the Burmese Union Day on
Feb 12, NGOs in the ASEAN region are launching a poster campaign with the
slogan "Should ASEAN welcome SLORC?" These posters which are being
distributed widely in all ASEAN member countries is meant to increase public
awareness of and opposition to ASEAN's "constructive engagement" policy.
Union Day is celebrated in Burma to commemorate the 1947 Panglong Agreement
in which ethnic leaders gave their support to nationalist hero Aung San (
father of Suu Kyi ) in his attempt to form a Union of Burma. The agreement
was widely recognised as a significant step towards the notion of federalism
which recognised the equality and integrity of the diverse Burmese ethnic
However, the assassination of Aung San a year after the pact, witnessed the
letter and spirit of the agreement being severely abused by successive
Burmese military regimes, of which SLORC is no exception. Instead of
recognising the political, civil, democratic and cultural rights of the
ethnic nationalities, SLORC has persisted in waging military attacks against
the ethnic minorities.
The Muslim Rohingyas in Arakan were particularly subjected to a barrage of
abuses from SLORC - continually being harassed, beaten, tortured, killed,
their property looted and women raped. Many were also conscripted into
forced labour. At the height of the attack, some 260,000 Rohingyas sought
refuge across the border in Bangladesh.
The latest atrocities against the ethnic minorities took place only last
week on Jan 28, when SLORC violated Thailand's borders when it raided and
burned 3 Karen villages near Mae Sot. They killed a Thai national and a
Karen baby, robbed the refugees and burned their homes, clinics and schools.
These attacks followed the Jan 3 mortar attacks and military raid on the
camps of the Karenni refugees and the dissidents from the All Burma Student
Democratic Front (ABSDF) near Mae Hong Son in the north-western border of
Thailand. Two people were killed and many more were injured. In addition,
SLORC has not relented in carrying out its programme of forced relocation
and forced labour of the ethnic minorities.
Moreover, SLORC has lately been collaborating with the infamous drug lord
Khun Sa who is allowed by the military junta to establish a business empire
with his drug money in Burma.
Obviously, the ASEAN "constructive engagement" policy has done more harm
than good. Indeed, the policy has given SLORC the green light to commit more
human right abuses against the Burmese people.
We, therefore, call upon member states of ASEAN currently meeting in
Singapore, to play a CONSTRUCTIVE role - by discarding its "constructive
engagement" policy which favours the military junta and encourages it to
discard the democratic process.
Instead ASEAN should recognise the results of the 1990 general elections of
Burma in which the National League of Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi has
won the elections. Besides, ASEAN should also promote a genuine dialogue
between SLORC and the National League for Democracy with the aim of
achieving a peaceful resolution and help break the present political
deadlock in Burma, thus enabling Burma to embark on the road to
democratisation and national reconciliation.
Organisations that endorsed the memorandum
3) Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia ( ABIM )
4) Community Development Centre ( CDC )
5) Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth ( DAPSY )
6) Democratic Action Party Women ( DAP Women )
7) Integrated Development for Eco-friendly And Appropriate Lifestyle ( IDEAL )
8) Jawatankuasa Sokongan Peneroka Bandar ( JSPB )
9) Malaysian Trade Union Congress ( MTUC )
10) Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia
11) Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
12) Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
13) Society for Christian Reflections ( SCR )
14) Suara Rakyat Malaysia ( SUARAM )
15) Suara Warga Pertiwi ( SWP )