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ASEAN should not be taken in by unprincipled Burma

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ASEAN is seemingly committed to accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the South-East Asia region, to strengthen the institution for a thriving and composed community of Southeast Asian nations. So far one of its members is a military-ruled nation that pays no attention to the norms of the grouping. How can the association ignore the insubordination of its desperado member, Burma or Myanmar?

ASEAN aims to promote regional peace and stability through respect for justice and the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the U.N. Charter. Yet it shuts its eyes while extrajudicial killings and violence against women and children take place daily in one of its member countries. There is no law and order at all under Burma's military dictators.

For example, on 30 December 2009, fifteen political promoters from three townships in Mandalay Division, who were held in Mandalay for three months, were given various prison sentences ranging from two years to 71 years by a court sitting inside the prison. The special branch of the police arrested the political activists from Myingyan, Nyaung Oo and Kyauk Padaung townships last September and October without giving any reasons and did not let them to meet their family members during detention. They have been given harsh imprisonments by a kangaroo-court in jail without having a lawyer on 6 January.

Besides, a military-controlled township court in Burma has handed down a 20-year jail term to freelance reporter Hla Hla Win, a young video journalist who worked with the Burma exile broadcaster "Democratic Voice of Burma" based in Norway, as the ruling junta continues its crackdown on dissent. She was arrested in September after taking a video interview at a Buddhist monastery in Pakokku, a town in Magwe Division, the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres and the Burma Media Association said in a joint statement. For that she was given a seven-year prison sentence in October. Burma ranks alongside nine other countries in the "worst of the worst" category in Freedom House's "Freedom in the World 2010' report, which includes Libya, Tibet, China, Eritrea, North Korea and Equatorial Guinea.

Moreover, two officials have been sentenced to death by a court in Burma for leaking information, official sources say, in a case reportedly involving secret ties between the ruling junta and North Korea. The men were arrested after details and photos about a trip to Pyongyang by the Burma regime's third-in-command, General Shwe Mann, were leaked to exiled media last year, the website of Thailand-based Irrawaddy News reported.

"Two officials got the death sentence and another one was jailed for 15 years for leaking information. They were sentenced at the special court in Insein Prison on Thursday," a source said. The two men sentenced to death were Win Naing Kyaw and Thura Kyaw while the jailed man was Pyan Sein, with no further details of the case. Win Naing Kyaw is a former military officer and Thura Kyaw and Pyan Sein worked at the ministry of foreign affairs, Irrawaddy said.

In such a political weather, Burma's Foreign Minister Nyan Win has told Southeast Asian counterparts that planned elections would be held in this year 2010 and he also guaranteed to be free, fair and credible, the Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said on 14 January at a regional conference in Vietnam.

Surin said the military-ruled country's Foreign Minister Nyan Win made the explanation at 13-January dinner in Vietnam with his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)

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