Myanmar Criticized For Breaking Promise to Democratize

15/03/2010 21:28

Myanmar is under extreme pressure from a fellow member of ASEAN, the UN and other western countries for creating an election law that would deprive persons including political prisoners from participating in the upcoming elections.

Military ruled Myanmar, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), broke its promise to democratize by creating a new election law that will effectively ban persons including political prisoners who serve prison terms from participating in the country's national elections scheduled later this year, according to Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alberto Romulo.

In his comments to the news about Myanmar's alleged oppressive election law, the Philippine Foreign Secretary expressed his displeasure over the adaption of the new election law that will ultimately bar pro democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy leaders in Myanmar from participating in the upcoming elections.

'It's contrary to the roadmap to democracy that they have pledged to Asean and to the world,' Mr Romulo told reporters. 'It's their own pledge and promise.'

Mr Romulo said he will ask fellow Asean ministers when they meet in an annual summit in Vietnam next month to prod Myanmar to consider rescinding the new election laws and rapidly enforce a long-standing promise to implement a 'roadmap to democracy,' a package of reforms that is supposed to ensure free and credible elections.

In a related development, Tomas Quintana, UN Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, says the upcoming polls in Myanmar could not be credible given that the ruling junta showed "no indications" that it would release political prisoners and allow them to participate.

In his report, Quintana said "the possibility exists that some of these human rights violations may entail categories of crimes against humanity or war crimes under the terms of the statute of the International Criminal Court."

Quintana, who visited the Southeast Asian country in February, said the "mere existence of this possibility" requires the Myanmar government to investigate the allegations. Hearing of Quintana's findings, Myanmar diplomats condemned the Quintana report and recommendations saying it 'violates the right of a sovereign state'

"We strongly condemn and reject these recommendations and the report as a whole," Myanmar envoy Wunna Maung Lwin told the Human Rights Council, referring to Quintana's report. Myanmar's Ambassador to Geneva charged that the report to the council contained "unfounded allegations" from "unverifiable sources" and that Quintana had referred to issues which fell outside his mandate.

Speaking to the council on Monday, Quintana noted that with elections to be held this year, "Myanmar is at a critical moment in its history. ""I call upon the international community to take stronger steps with regards to accountability'. Quintana added.


(original article appeared @ Digital Journal )

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