Three resolutions on the situation in Thailand, the pre-election climate in Burma and religious freedom in Pakistan were adopted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday.
MEPs voice deep concern and express their solidarity with the people of Thailand in the light of the violent conflict between demonstrators and security forces in the country. They are particularly worried at the introduction of a state of emergency, which has included censorship of the media. They urge all parties "to engage immediately in a constructive dialogue" in order to seek a quick, negotiated and peaceful settlement to the current crisis.
The government's decision to establish a committee comprising forensic experts and representatives of academic institutions to investigate the deaths that occurred during the incident on 10 April 2010 is welcomed, but MEPs believe the investigations should cover the most recent deaths as well.
Parliament calls on the Thai Government to ensure that the declaration of a state of emergency does not lead to any disproportionate restriction of fundamental rights and individual freedoms. A state of emergency has been declared in more than 20 provinces across the country.
The government is urged to end censorship and restrictions on the right to freedom of expression. Several radio and television stations as well as internet sites have been censored, says Parliament.
The wish of the Burmese authorities to hold elections "under completely undemocratic conditions" and excluding the main democratic opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi until its dissolution last week, is condemned in the European Parliament's resolution. The elections could take place in late October/early November 2010.
The electoral laws published in March 2010 make the holding of free elections impossible and should be repealed, say MEPs. The authorities of Burma/Myanmar are urged to heed the appeals of the international community to allow Aung San Suu Kyi and all other prisoners of conscience to participate in the political process. The government is also asked to lift restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, movement and expression, including for free and independent media.
The resolution deplores the fact that, under the new constitution, the military will be guaranteed at least 25% of the seats in parliament and will have the power to suspend civil liberties and legislative authority in the interests of national security.
MEPs welcome the Council's decision to extend the restrictive measures against Rangoon by a further year, and express strong support for the continued work of the EU Special Envoy.
The Commission's decision to cut funding for refugees on the Thailand-Burma border is criticised. MEPs call for cross-border aid, especially medical assistance, to be restored.
Religious freedom in Pakistan
Parliament is concerned about discrimination and the lack of basic freedoms suffered by minorities in the broad sense but especially religious minorities in Pakistan, a country whose majority and state religion is Sunni Islam. They call on the government to review the practice of including the religious identity of its citizens in all new passports and to carry out a thoroughgoing review of the blasphemy laws.
Measures taken by the government since November 2008, such as establishing a quota of five per cent for minorities in the federal jobs sector, recognising non-Muslim public holidays and declaring National Minorities Day, are welcomed by Parliament.
Among the minority religious and belief groups in Pakistan are Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Shiites, Ahmadis, Buddhists, Parsis and Bahá’ís.
REF. : 20100518IPR74693