News / Asia

Burma Bids to Head ASEAN in 2014

Myanmar's President Thein Sein, left, is greeted by his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono prior to their meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 5, 2011
Myanmar's President Thein Sein, left, is greeted by his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono prior to their meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 5, 2011

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is considering giving military-led Burma the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014, despite grave concerns about human rights abuses and lack of real democratic development.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, issued Friday a strong objection to Burma's request to chair ASEAN in 2014.

"Burma's human rights record is an extremely sorry one. They still have over 2,000 political prisoners in jail, forced labor being used all over the country, people raising the issue of a possible UN commission of inquiry on Burma," he said. "For ASEAN to have Burma chair it with that kind of record would basically create a reputational risk to ASEAN that would be far too great. That would make ASEAN the laughing stock of inter government organizations."

There are longstanding differences in the level of economic growth, democratic development and social progress within the 10 member states of ASEAN, but Burma's human rights record has been a constant source of tension and embarrassment for the organization.

Burmese President Thein Sein arrived in Indonesia to attend the two-day ASEAN summit that begins on Saturday. He met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday in what is his first trip abroad as president since he was sworn in on March 30.

President Sein was prime minister under the now-disbanded military junta. In November of 2010 he won the first election held in Burma in 20 years, but Western governments criticized the process as restrictive and fraudulent. While opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest shortly after the election, the United States and Europe and a number of other countries continue to impose arms embargoes and economic sanctions on Burma.

Southeast Asia political analyst Carl Thayer with the University of New South Wales in Australia says Burma's request put's ASEAN in an uncomfortable position. He says ASEAN pressured Burma to relinquish the chairmanship before in 2005 but promised future support if it made democratic progress.

"Since then they've run elections that ASEAN has endorsed. And now Myanmar, Burma has made the request to, you know, said it is ready to resume. So ASEAN is now stuck because as it moves towards this community creation, all of a sudden the role of Myanmar in it will become divisive in terms of ASEAN's external relations," Thayer stated.

He says if Burma were to head ASEAN, the U.S. and the EU would likely refuse to participate in any the organization meetings and it would severely impede progress in making ASEAN an integrated economic community.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid