Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Concerns Raised As Burma Targets Refugees in Thailand
Concerns Raised As Burma Targets Refugees in Thailand, ASEAN Parliament
April 11, 2011, Washington, D.C. & Bangkok, Thailand
Center for Public Policy Analysis
The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) has issued a statement today welcoming the retirement of Burma’s General Than Shwe and called on the new Burmese hybrid government, in its road map to “disciplined democracy”, to adopt true political, social and economic reforms. Burma is expected to seek to join the Association of South East Asia Nations’ (ASEAN) Inter-Parliamentary Assembly as a long-term member by sending representatives to upcoming meeting in Cambodia in September.
The CPPA also expressed concerns today about the recent announcement by elements of Thailand’s government, and powerful armed forces, to deport tens of thousands of Burmese refugees back to Burma in the wake of the transfer of military-civilian power in Burma after the retirement of Gen. Than Shwe.
“General Than Shwe's historic retirement as head of the military junta in Burma is an important first step and we welcome it with skeptical optimism and a variety of very deep concerns,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director for the CPPA in Washington, D.C.
“We urge the newly elected Burmese Union Parliament, and military-civilian government under President Thein Sein and Army General Min Aung Hlaing, to adopt true political, social and economic reforms, which are badly needed by the people of Burma and widely hoped for by the international community,” Smith stated.
Gen. Than Shwe headed Burma's military junta for nearly two decades, out of the Burmese military’s five decade rule. Than Shwe ruled Burma, in an authoritarian fashion, since 1992.
Burma’s Union Parliament reported announced on March 28th its intention to seek formal, long-term membership in ASEAN’s AIPA. The eight present members of AIPA include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
“Clearly, more substantive reforms should be undertaken by the new Burmese hybrid, military-civilian government prior to Burma being admitted to ASEAN’s Inter-Parliamentary Assembly,” Smith said.
“Burmese political refugees and asylum seekers should not be deported by Thailand, or forced back to Burma by the Thai military, until concrete reforms and changes have taken place in Burma under the new government, including serious human rights reforms,” Smith said.
“The Burmese military has long targeted many of the refugees who have fled to Thailand for persecution or worse, ” Smith observed.
President Thein Sein is a former Army office and Prime Minister under the General Than Shwe’s State Peace and Development Council, previous know as the State Law and Order Council (SLORC). SLORC engaged in widespread human rights violations against pro-democracy advocates, human rights defenders, minority peoples (including the Karen and Kareni) as well as independent Buddhist monks and Christian and Animist believers.
Gen. Than Shwe and SLORC were staunch allies of brutal authoritarian and communist regimes in Laos, North Korea and elsewhere.
“The new hybrid, military-civilian government in Burma, which has replaced the old military junta under General Than Shwe, is already being criticized in many quarters for being a sham and charade because it combines senior, and extensive, elements of the previous military junta with a nominal number of new civilian elements,” Smith continued.
“The recent end of the old junta in Burma should not merely usher in a new military-run Burma under the guise of ‘disciplined democracy’”, Smith stated.
“Perhaps most importantly, we remain deeply concerned about the exclusion of the Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Burma’s new Union Parliament and the overwhelming predominance of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in the recent elections,” Smith concluded.
The CPPA is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank and research organization focused on foreign and national security policy issues as well as economic development, humanitarian, human rights and refugee matters.