Media conference statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday, 11th November 2010:
ASEAN must strengthen UN efforts to bring about peace and justice in Burma/Myanmar
For the AIPMC, the election in Burma/Myanmar was already a foregone conclusion. We did not consider them an election at all. In fact, we named them a non-election for the country’s people.
Our conclusion was based on careful scrutiny of the facts on the ground, including a strictly controlled constitution-drafting process, a rigged referendum in the midst of the disaster caused by Cyclone Nargis, the use of the election laws and other laws to exclude the opposition, the widespread intimidation of political candidates and the exclusion of significant sections of the electorate from the electoral process.
Today, we are horrified that our worst fears are turning into reality. The counting process of the votes has not been transparent, and complaints about advance voting fraud and other irregularities are growing stronger. Burma/Myanmar’s Union Election Commission now needs to heed the call of the country’s citizens and political parties to ensure a transparent counting process, investigate all claims and refuse to certify any results until these investigations are complete.
ASEAN has welcomed the elections in Burma/Myanmar as a significant step forward in the implementation of the regime’s seven-step road map. The AIPMC does not share this assessment. These elections were a fake. They are not going to bring about a government by the people, with the people and for the people, a government that will wholeheartedly seek the sustainable development of Burma/Myanmar and its people.
Together with many others, the AIPMC had previously stated its belief that elections under oppression are unlikely to bring peace. Instead, they are a route to increasing violence and growing instability. Sadly, it did not take long for our predictions to come true. The polling booths had hardly closed on Election Day when fighting erupted along the Thai-Burma/Myanmar border, sending scores of refugees across the border to safety in Thailand.
More disaster is looming. These elections have reignited ethnic tensions. This week’s fighting confirms the views of those skeptics who had opposed the manner in which these elections were conducted in the first place. But the situation could deteriorate further. In a worst case scenario, Burma/Myanmar could see a return to the civil war that has already wrecked havoc on the country and its people.
The AIPMC fully share the position of ASEAN that Burma/Myanmar needs to continue to accelerate the process of national reconciliation and democratization, for stability and development in the country.
AIPMC also shares ASEAN’s view that Burma/Myanmar needs to work with ASEAN and the United Nations in this process. But ASEAN needs to put its words into action. The credibility of the organization is at stake over the crisis in Burma/Myanmar. ASEAN now needs to focus its efforts.
Burma/Myanmar’s recent cooperation with the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma/Myanmar is a good step, but hardly sufficient. ASEAN must take a lead in pressing upon Burma/Myanmar the need to work closely with the UN.
The most severe violations of human rights in Burma/Myanmar are taking place in ethnic nationality areas. Credible reports have in recent years stated that these abuses could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. A return to fighting would increase the risk of fresh abuses and of new waves of refugees entering neighbouring countries.
The AIPMC therefore calls on ASEAN to support a proposal by the UN Special Rapporteur to establish a Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices to look into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Myanmar, and to take practical steps towards its establishment.
The root cause of the crisis in Burma/Myanmar is the lack of national reconciliation. The UN has long sought to facilitate a process for tripartite dialogue between the military regime, the pro-democracy opposition under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the ethnic groups.
The AIPMC calls on ASEAN to put in place a peace-building mechanism that will enable the UN to play this role more effectively so that such a tripartite dialogue can truly come about.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor