For Immediate Release: 16 May
SOLIDARITY FOR ASIAN PEOPLE’S ADVOCACIES (SAPA)
WORKING GROUP ON THE ASEAN
ASEAN ACTIONS MUST REFLECT URGENCY OF SITUATION IN BURMA
CALL FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION TO ENSURE CYCLONE NARGIS SURVIVORS
The members of SAPA demand
that ASEAN immediately take a pro-active stand to ensure that
the Burmese authorities stop blocking delivery of urgently needed
international aid - both supplies and expertise – to the
2.5 million survivors of Cyclone Nargis who are hanging onto
life by a thread. Otherwise, ASEAN risks being seen as callous,
irrelevant and hypocritical.
It is time that our regional grouping proves that it is indeed
“One ASEAN at the Heart of Dynamic Asia” in addressing
the biggest humanitarian disaster to hit the region since the
Aceh tsunami. Failure to do so will undermine the credibility
ASEAN worked so hard to build at its 40th anniversary.
ASEAN must play a facilitation role between the Burmese generals
and international agencies to launch a sustained effort for
immediate relief work as well as long-term rehabilitation and
ASEAN leaders must also immediately move to persuade China,
India and Russia to exert their influence on the military junta
to ensure that international aid – and international aid
workers and experts – be allowed into Burma immediately.
Aid must be provided unconditionally to all areas of Burma.
ASEAN members, Indonesia and Vietnam, should use their position
at the UN Security Council to advocate for stronger support
of UN initiatives to help the people of Burma.
The consequences of more aid delays will hurt the entire region.
Failure to deliver immediate relief and long-term assistance
to rebuild the economic capacity of the affected areas, long
considered the rice-bowl of Burma, would intensify internal
stability which in turn, would have serious regional repercussions.
ASEAN is already bearing the cost of Burma’s human security
problems, problems that may increase exponentially if the survivors
of Cyclone Nargis are abandoned to their living nightmare.
ASEAN countries together experienced the horror of the 2004
tsunami, and its aftermath. Together they rebuilt, repeating
the mantra “never again”. The tsunami response recognized
that ASEAN’s “non-interference” policy is
irrelevant in the face of natural disasters. ASEAN must prove
that it is capable of putting effective pressure on the generals
to make way for a regional response.
So far ASEAN has established a humanitarian fund, and has appealed
to the junta for quick admission of ASEAN relief and rescue
teams. It needs to do much more. In the aftermath of the 2004
tsunami, large-scale, uninterrupted international and ASEAN-led
assistance helped to alleviate the hardships of the victims
and speed up the recovery.
ASEAN has a responsibility to protect all the peoples of ASEAN.
Its responsibility now is to act to protect the most vulnerable,
not the generals who have created the conditions for this disaster.
16 May 2008
SAPA Working Group on the ASEAN, together with:
Focus on the Global South
Forum-Asia. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
IID Initiatives for International Dialogue
MFA Migrant Forum in Asia
SEACA South East Asian Committee for Advocacy
SUARAM Suara Rakyat Malaysia
SWAN Shan Women’s Action Network
Founded in 2006, SAPA or the Solidarity for Asian People’s
Advocacies is an open networking platform for civil society
advocacies with governments and inter-governmental organizations
in Asia. SAPA works through functional groups: the Working Group
on ASEAN, the Working Group on Migration and Labor, the Working
Group on the UN, the Task Force on Human Rights in ASEAN, and
the Task Force on Migration in ASEAN.
For more information, please contact:
ALTSEAN BURMA: Debbie Stothard
<Debbie@altsean.org> +66 81 686 1652 or Anelyn de Luna
SWAN SHAN WOMEN’S ACTION NETWORK: Charm Tong <email@example.com>,
<firstname.lastname@example.org> +66 81 603 6655