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Alternative Asean Network on Burma
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PRESS RELEASES, OPEN LETTERS, STATEMENTS

For Immediate Release: 17 July 2007

BURMA'S NATIONAL CONVENTION MAY DESTABILIZE REGION, ACTIVISTS WARN

ASEAN-based activists have condemned the Burmese regime's constitution-drafting process as "part of the problem and not the solution to Burma's troubles".

In a briefing issued a day ahead of the resumption of the military-controlled National Convention, Altsean-Burma (the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma) pointed out that outcomes of the flawed National Convention would merely intensify the root causes of the ethnic-based conflicts perpetuated by Burma's successive military regimes.

"Regional governments, including ASEAN members, China and India, should be extremely concerned at the destabilizing potential of the regime's strong-arm tactics to formalize and prolong its rule," said Altsean-Burma Coordinator, Debbie Stothard. Over the weekend, ethnic representatives warned that a regime-dominated constitution will lead to "increased militarization, armed conflict and chaos."

"Ethnic groups and the National League for Democracy have consistently proposed steps to salvage the National Convention and transform it into a venue for dialogue; however these recommendations have been rejected. These solutions deserve greater support from governments in the region," emphasized Ms Stothard. The Altsean-Burma statement adds to the chorus of condemnation by pro-democracy and ethnic groups within and outside of Burma.

Originally devised by the military regime as a tactic to avoid convening Parliament after it lost the 1990 elections, the National Convention was mothballed in March 1996. It was revived in 2004 as part of the "7-point roadmap to democracy", a response to heightened regional and international pressure following the Depayin Massacre in May 2003, in which government-organised thugs attacked pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters. Scores were killed or injured, and the Nobel Laureate has been held under strict conditions of detention since.

Altsean-Burma's briefer titled "National Convention: Roadmap to Instability" is available for download from http://www.altsean.org The briefer launches Altsean-Burma's revamped website which now boasts a range of new features, including research resources for advocacy.

ENDS

For more information, please call +6681 850 9008 during office hours or email debbie@altsean.org