Press Release
August 7, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Philippines, as new chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), should take the lead in pressing for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and for the release of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Noting that Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has renewed the call for the release of Aung San, Pimentel challenged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to do the same.

The President should support Thaksins lead. Its a shame if Gloria will just keep her silence, he said.

Pimentel, vice chairman of the Southeast Asian Parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar, said the continued refusal of Myanmars ruling junta to free Aug San betrayed its lack of commitment to take concrete steps towards democratization in disregard of ASEAN principle of full respect for the rights of the peoples of independent nations.

He called for the imposition by ASEAN of sanctions on Myanmar for showing bad faith in complying with its commitments as member of the regional organization by repeatedly extending Aung Sans house arrest and refusing to call parliamentary elections.

In view of this, Pimentel said the ASEAN should not slacken on its efforts to pressure Myanmar for the early restoration of freedom and democracy there.

He denounced the systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar, including extra-judicial killings, torture, rape, forced labor and harassment of political opponents.

The repression of human rights in Myanmar will worsen unless organizations like the ASEAN will intercede AND exert pressures on its military rulers to fulfill its pledge to democratize, Pimentel said.

Aung San has been in prison or house arrest for 11 years of the last 16 years.

Aung San and other leaders of the National League of Democracy were thrown into prison after their party won most of the seats in the countrys parliament during the 1990 elections.

Pimentel said the political and economic isolation of Myanmar will continue for as long as its military regime defies the appeal of the international community for the return of democracy to the detriment of the long suffering Burmese people.

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