A DONOR conference for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Human Rights Body [AHRB] in Phuket, Thailand, during the Asean Summit in June is expected to pour enough funds to support its work of protecting human rights in the region.
While Asean includes the dictatorship Burma called by its rulers Myanmar, still countries such as Britain and regional groups such as the European Union (EU)—which continue to excoriate the Burmese dictatorship for their cruelty to their citizens—have pledged to contribute funds.
“But we have to discuss the parameters of the role of these countries to prevent them from intervening in the decisions of the Asean Human Rights Body,” said a senior diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Terms of Reference for the AHRB will be finalized by July and to be adopted by October this year.
The US, Britain and the EU are vocal critics of the Burmese military junta since the start. Asean’s policy of noninterference and constructive engagement with Burma have also been criticized as aggravating Burma’s situation.
The Philippines had earlier reiterated the call of Asean for Burma to fulfill the road map to democracy that includes the release of prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 1,000 political prisoners.
Suu Kyi’s house arrest expires in May this year. The leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy has been under house arrest under the military junta for more than 12 years.
“Since its acceptance into the Asean family in 1997, the government of Myanmar has been declaring its commitment to democracy and promising a process of national reconciliation. Fulfilling these commitments is long overdue,” said Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband commended the Philippine government for its firm stand in pushing for Burma’s fulfillment of the roadmap to democracy that also includes an all-party free elections.
“The British government stands ready to support the development of the new institution, and would welcome any proposal on how to best support this initiative,” said Miliband in a letter to Romulo.