News

Rights Groups Call on UN Chief to Press Burma on Reforms

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, center left, and his wife Yoo Soon-taek, center right, receive flowers from a staff upon their arrival at a hotel Sunday, April 29, 2012 in Yangon, Burma.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, center left, and his wife Yoo Soon-taek, center right, receive flowers from a staff upon their arrival at a hotel Sunday, April 29, 2012 in Yangon, Burma.
Ron Corben

Human rights groups are calling on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to further press Burma’s military-backed civilian government to stay the course with reforms.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said upon his arrival that Burma has entered a critical moment against the backdrop of a series of political and economic reforms undertaken over the past year.

Ban, who is to meet with Burma’s President Thein Sein Monday in the administrative capital Naypyidaw, had earlier acknowledged reform in Burma - also known as Myanmar - remained fragile with challenges ahead.

“Myanmar (Burma) is only at the beginning of its transition. Many challenges lie ahead. Many concerns have yet to be addressed," Ban said. "Yet I am convinced that we have an unprecedented opportunity to help the country advance toward a better future.”  

Ban is also to meet with opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Tuesday. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) Party won a landslide victory in recent by-elections but boycotted the first sitting of parliament last week over wording of the swearing-in oath. Mr. Ban says he is hopeful the problem will be quickly resolved.

Ban’s visit comes as European Union policy chief, Catherine Ashton, is also on an official visit to Burma.  She says international business is still looking for further reform before making major investments in Burma.

The EU suspended economic sanctions in place over Burma’s past human rights record. Several countries have eased sanctions, including Canada, Australia and Japan. But the U.S. says key sanctions will remain as a leverage to press the government on reforms.

Debbie Stothard, spokesperson for rights group Alternative ASEAN Network, says substantive reforms are still required in areas such as legislation, as well as institutional and policy changes.

Stothard says Ban needs to press Burma’s government to move ahead with reform.

“It’s very important that Mr. Ban Ki-moon is not swept up in the euphoria and he should actually be looking at the situation with a lot of logic and stone-cold sober look at whether there is indeed reform in the country and what needs to be done; that Mr. Ban tells the Burmese authorities that this is a good start but much more needs to be done and much more quickly,” said Stothard.

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPPB) joint secretary Bo Kyi says the U.N chief should call for the release of all political prisoners and an end to army operations in ethnic border areas.

“His visit is very important. Maybe the need to discuss with the solving the problem of Burma, especially to stop the war on the Kachin state and the release of political prisoners and other human rights situations; those three issues are really important in the solving those problems Burma will not get peace,” said Bo.

The government has so far released 659 political prisoners but as may as 900 remain detained.

Ban is also set to travel to northern Shan state, a key opium growing region where a U.N. poppy eradication program has been under way. Aid agencies also expect further international aid and donor funds to flow into the country following Ban’s visit.

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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs