ASEM: send clear message to Myanmar
(Brussels, 24 October) Given the rare opportunity to sit down with
representatives of Myanmar's military junta, Amnesty International strongly
urges the French EU Presidency to use the occasion presented by the ASEM
summit taking place in Beijing, to raise concerns about the severe human
rights situation in the country.
In a letter to the French Presidency (available at www.amnesty-eu.org)
Amnesty International said that along with other human rights concerns in
the region, the EU should address the violations in Myanmar where around
2,100 political prisoners are currently being detained. In accordance with
the EU's guidelines on human rights defenders, the French Presidency should
take advantage of this opportunity to inquire about the prisoners, many of
whom are at risk of torture.
Amnesty International has provided information on urgent cases such as that
of Myo Yang Naung Thein who could be sentenced in the next three weeks.
Arrested in December 2007 in connection with the filming of the September
protests, he has suffered a paralysis of the lower part of his body since
his arrest, to the extent that in his multiple court appearances he has had
to be carried on a stretcher. Amnesty International is concerned that this
could be the result of torture during interrogation sessions and called on
the French Presidency to press for an immediate improvement in the
conditions of his detention, and for his unconditional release.
"As co-chair, the French Presidency can ensure that the serious human rights
situation in Myanmar is given the attention it deserves. ASEM's voice could
make a real difference towards these prisoners of conscience," said Nicolas
Beger, Director of Amnesty International's EU Office.
"This is a rare opportunity to engage in direct dialogue with the
authorities of Myanmar which should not be missed" he added.
The on-going military offensive against the ethnic Karen civilians in
eastern Myanmar is another great source of concern. The largest military
operation in a decade has primarily targeted civilians, leading to almost
150,000 internally displaced people. In a report released in June 2008*
Amnesty International stated that the widespread violations were crimes
against humanity. It urges the French Presidency to call on Myanmar to stop
all the violations against civilians in this offensive.
The human rights organization is also concerned with the ongoing
constitutional process which rather than attempting to introduce the rule of
law, appears to legitimise the government's continuing human rights abuses.
The EU should lead efforts to press the Myanmar authorities to radically
alter the Constitutional draft.
*The report, Crimes against humanity in eastern Myanmar is available at:
Love, rage, fire and flames,
Maria Edilyd P. Orias
Media, Communication and Publications
Mobile nos. +639178858634
Amnesty International Philippines