AIPMC calls for urgent peace talks in Burma by ASEAN-U Zin Linn

Jakarta-based ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) has released a Press Statement [dated 17 June 2011] calling urgent peace talks and reliable action by ASEAN.

AIPMC strongly condemns the decision by the Myanmar (Burmese) government to dispatch heavily armed troops into Kachin State and the concomitant outbreak of fighting, which brings an end to seventeen years of ceasefire between the government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

In its press release, AIPMC says,”We are deeply concerned about a return to war between the Myanmar army and the KIA, says Eva Kusuma Sundari, president of the AIPMC. We call for an immediate end to sending troops into Kachin areas and urgent peace talks between the parties.”

According to AIPMC , the armed conflict in Kachin State reveals that the new President Thein Sein government has not changed its habits since it was elected in a sham election in November 2010. Moreover, it will keep on ruling by force rather than looking for a power-sharing agreement with ethnic nationalities. AIPMC also criticizes that it observes no improvement towards democracy in the country if the new parliament remains powerless to act on behalf of the population. On the other hand, the new Thein Sein government has been failing in its responsibility to protect the people.

The press statement also underscores recent fighting which caused internal displacement and a wave of refugees across the border to China. Because of government armed forces’ hostilities, approximately one thousand ethnic Kachin people have fled to Mai Jay Yang along the Kachin-China border, whereas another 150 people who run into China were forced to go back. Many others had their cell phones confiscated by Chinese police, AIPMC said.

Meanwhile, KIO’s civil administration officer Salang Doi Pyi Sa said, “According to yesterday’s list, there are 2,291 refugees who arrived from Burmese government’s territories. There are over 300 in Ura Bum, 4,238 in Loije, over 2,000 in Man Win and over 300 in Maijayang.”

At one point, AIPMC calls on China to stop such forced repatriations and to grant protection to Kachin refugees fleeing combating. AIPMC also urges the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international bodies to take responsibilities to grant admission to the border areas of China and Burma (Myanmar) for the protection of civilians as well as Humanitarian Relief.

AIPMC goes over the main points that the outbreak of fighting in Kachin State comes in addition to continuing conflicts in Karen and Mon areas in eastern and southern border areas with Thailand. The government’s act represents an expansion of the war zone in Burma up to Kachin State and the Sino-Burma border.

So, up to date events are also a warning to Burma’s neighbours, including Thailand, to re-evaluate any plans to repatriate refugees from unstable Burma, the statement emphasizes.

ASEAN leaders are also urged to put the crisis in Burma on top of the ASEAN agenda in order to seek an end to the conflicts in the region. Additionally, national reconciliation dialogue between the government, ethnic nationalities and other opposition groups should be set up urgently, AIPMC claims in its press statement.

The Most important demand by the AIPMC is that Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, in his power as chairman of ASEAN, together with other ASEAN leaders have to reject Burma or Myanmar’s application to chair ASEAN in 2014.

The Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, or AIPMC, which comprises representatives from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia, urged their governments to take the situation in the military influenced country seriously. ASEAN could otherwise lose its credibility. The AIPMC was originally formed by Malaysian legislators in May 2004.

The current President of the AIPMC is Ms. Eva Kusuma Sundari, Member of the Indonesian Parliament. Mr. Kraisak Choonhavan, Member of the Thai Parliament, has been serving as Vice-President of the AIPMC as well as chair of the Thai national AIPMC caucus. Besides, Ms. Agung Putri Astrid has taken responsibility as Executive Director of the AIPMC. She was formerly Executive Director of the Indonesian Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy,Elsam.

The grouping of ASEAN Legislators from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Cambodia has constantly called for the unconditional release of almost 2,000 political prisoners in Burma. One of AIPMC’s initial campaigns is to urge ASEAN to deny Burma its turn at chairing the regional bloc in 2014.

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