November 8, 2010

We, the members of the European Parliamentary Caucus on Burma, are expressing our concern with the elections that were held in Burma on November 7th and call on the international community to not recognize its results.

The government of Burma has, since 2003, rejected every single proposal by the United Nations and international community to reform its seven-stage ‘roadmap to democracy’, including reforming the 2008 constitution and making elections on 7th November free and fair.

Burma’s 2008 constitution, which comes into force after the election, is designed to maintain dictatorship in a civilian guise, and does not grant any human rights or prospect for genuine change.

The constitution does not protect or address the concerns, rights and aspirations of Burma’s ethnic minorities, and the President of Burma appoints all ministers in State and Regional Parliaments, including the Chief Minister. No repressive laws are repealed by the 2008 constitution and the military will hold twenty-five percent of seats in Parliament, enough to veto any constitutional change.

Political parties in Burma have faced severe restrictions in the run up to the elections and are unable to operate freely. For example, the costs of fielding candidates in the elections has been set extremely high, thereby stopping opposition parties from being able to field candidates in many constituencies. Besides that, voting was not allowed to take place in many ethnic areas.

Almost 2,200 political prisoners still remain in detention, many of whom have been tortured and face daily mistreatment, and that this number has almost doubled since 2007. Aung San Suu Kyi remains in detention, in violation of international law, and under Burmese law should be released on November 13th. Her party, the National League for Democracy and nine other political parties have been effectively banned by the dictatorship. From the above mentioned conditions it is clear that the elections in Burma held on 7th November were not free and fair.

We are appealing to the countries of the European Union to ensure the following steps after the elections:

1. We call on the European Union to reject the outcome of the elections and the new government as illegitimate and not representing the genuine will of the people.

2. We believe the European Union should maintain existing targeted economic sanctions against Burma until a genuine process of reform has begun in Burma and the relaxation of sanctions has the support of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy. It is necessary to ensure that existing sanctions are properly monitored and implemented.

3. We are joining the call of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma who has condemned ‘gross and systematic’ human rights abuses committed by Burma’s dictatorship, stating that they constitute ‘a state policy that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels’, and has called for the establishment of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the dictatorship.

We welcome the public support for a UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity from the government of Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Slovakia and United Kingdom. It is time that the European Union publicly supported the recommendation of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma to establish a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma, and include the establishment of an inquiry in the Burma Resolution at the United Nations General Assembly.

4. We would like to see the European Union renew efforts to secure genuine tripartite dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, genuine ethnic representatives, and the government of Burma, with the aim of securing national reconciliation and a transition to democracy. The European Union should work together for a more unified international approach to Burma, led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, rather than the international community pursuing multiple low-level unilateral initiatives.

5. We call on the European Union to make the release of political prisoners a priority in any discussions with the dictatorship in Burma.
For more information contact: Kristina Prunerova at +420 226 200 455,kristina.prunerova@peopleinneed.cz


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