U.S. Congress urges ASEAN to suspend Burma/Myanmar

Paul Eckert & Philip Barbara
17 Nov 07

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Friday to urge the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to suspend Myanmar until the military rulers there show respect for human rights.

The Senate resolution, approved concurrently by the House of Representatives, came days before the leaders of ASEAN meet in Singapore next week for their annual summit.

The resolution urged the grouping “to review Burma’s membership in ASEAN and to consider appropriate disciplinary measures, including suspension, until such time as the Government of Burma has demonstrated an improved respect for and commitment to human rights.”

The military government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was quoted by U.N. human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro on Friday as acknowledging that at least 15 people were killed in September’s crackdown on the biggest democracy protests in nearly 20 years.

Friday’s nonbinding resolution was sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

In a statement published on her Web site, the California Democrat called on ASEAN to follow up its condemnation of Myanmar’s crackdown with concrete punitive steps.

“I appreciate the strong comments from ASEAN member nations condemning the junta’s violent suppression of peaceful protesters in Burma. It is now time for ASEAN to back its words with actions,” Boxer said.

ASEAN groups Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.