International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
Burma Lawyers' Council (BLC)
Joint Press Release
Paris-Bangkok, 15 November 2010 - The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma), and the Burma Lawyers’ Council are pleased to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi regain her freedom on 13 November after spending 15 of the last 21 years in detention in Burma.
FIDH, ALTSEAN-Burma and BLC assert that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention was arbitrary and unlawful, as is the detention of all other political prisoners in Burma. The organisations therefore demand their immediate and unconditional release and the full restoration of their civil and political rights. Their release will be a crucial first step towards genuine national reconciliation. FIDH, ALTSEAN-Burma and BLC further demand that the prior convictions of these political prisoners be overturned and that redress be provided to them and their families for the physical and psychological suffering resulting from the deprivation of their fundamental rights.
While Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release is technically unconditional, it remains to be seen whether she will be able to fully exercise her fundamental rights and freedoms, including her right to participate in political activities. It is to be remembered that the junta considerably restricted her freedom of movement following her previous releases from detention.
Suu Kyi’s release came six days after the 7 November general elections which violated internationally accepted standards. Not satisfied with the pro-military provisions of the 2008 Constitution and the repressive election laws and decrees, the Burmese junta perpetrated blatant electoral frauds by intimidating and manipulating voters to ensure a landslide victory for their proxy parties.
The oppressive and exclusive elections and the provisions of the 2008 Constitution have placed Burma in grave danger of a serious intensification of its long-running internal conflicts. Such an increase in violence will almost certainly be accompanied by a spike in serious international crimes. The post-election clash between Burmese troops and a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which drove as many as 20,000 people across the border to Thailand, as well as military clashes in Shan State is a sign that the general elections and their results are aggravating the root causes of conflict in Burma. This is why the international community must renew its efforts to work with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure that the peoples of Burma are free.
“While Suu Kyi is freed, her country has effectively been taken hostage by the SPDC generals who designed the fraudulent 7 November elections to extend their illegitimate hold on power,” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “The message from the international community must be unequivocal and steadfast at this critical juncture: the SPDC and the next military-dominated regime must cease all human rights abuses, hold perpetrators to account, and commit to a process of inclusive and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders in order to enable a genuine transition to democracy and national reconciliation.”
“The release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should be unconditional and she must be allowed to contribute meaningfully to the process of national reconciliation and the democratic transition of Burma. This must include a fundamental review of the 2008 Constitution, which entirely fails to guarantee peace and stability to civilians,” said U Thein Oo, Chairman of BLC.
“The international community should not be complacent now that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is free. The regime stole an election last week, 2,200 people continue to be arbitrarily detained as political prisoners, ethnic nationality communities continue to be threatened by serious international crimes and escalating conflict. The entire country remains hostage to impunity. Burma needs concrete action now,” insisted Debbie Stothard, Altsean-Burma Coordinator, and FIDH Deputy Secretary-General.