Press Release
May 2, 2007


JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged the Association of Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a definite stand in compelling Myanmar to fulfill its commitment to implement democratic reforms and put an end to military dictatorship in that country.

Addressing the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar forum during the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference here, Pimentel urged the ASEAN to call on the United Nations Security Council to pass non-punitive sanctions against the military rulers of Myanmar to impress upon them that their continued oppression and curtailment of the civil liberties of the Burmese people have no place in the civilized, free world.

To make the pressure effective, the Minority Leader also suggested that the United States and the European Union should freeze the funds of the ruling junta in whatever banks these are found.

Pimentel, vice-chairman of the AIPCM, deplored that Myanmars ruling junta has persistently ignored the appeal of the international community to free opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate from house arrest and allow the holding of democratic elections.

Aung San has been in detention without trial since 1990 when her political party, National League of Democracy, won most of the parliamentary seats during the national election.

She should have been installed as prime minister if she and other NLD leaders were not arrested and thrown into jail upon order of a clique of military generals who refused to recognize the outcome of the elections.

Pimentel prodded the ASEAN to exert stronger pressures on Myanmar so it will comply with its pledge, as a member of the regional troping, to adopt constitutional and legal measures leading to the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.

Only then can Myanmar establish a democratic government and pursue a genuine economic development that would truly benefit the Burmese people, he said.

The minority leader said that the Philippines, as a bastion of democracy in the region and as current chairman of ASEAN, should spearhead the efforts to exert pressures of Myanmar by telling its military rulers to stop terrorizing the Burmese people.

He expressed dismay that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as ASEAN chairperson, has been less than forceful in responding to the appeals, particularly from the Burmese people, to exert pressure on Myanmars ruling junta to take tangible steps to get the country out of dictatorial rule.

Pimentel said that aside from the incarceration of defiant opposition leaders without formal charges or trial, violations of human rights are committed with impunity by the Myanmar military regime, especially against members of the Burmese ethnic minorities.

He said numerous cases of murder, involuntary disappearances, abductions and illegal detentions, torture and rape of women are being reported to the outside world at a terrifying rate by Burmese freedom fighters, including those living in exile abroad.

He said only the adoption of tough sanctions against Myanmar by its Asian neighbors will jolt the military rulers from their arrogance and indifference to the plight and misery of the Burmese people and convince them to take solid and decisive steps leading to the return of democracy to that troubled land.

Pimentel urged Indonesia, as incoming chair of the UN Security Council, to lead the international effort to democratize Burma.

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