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Indonesia President asked to bring Myanmar issue to the front at UN assembly

by Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Sept 24, 2007

Jakarta, Indonesia -- The House of Representatives has asked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to direct the UN General Assembly's attention to the mounting tension in Myanmar so as to press the military junta to restore democracy.

The Indonesian Legislators' Myanmar Caucus said in a press conference here Sunday that the President should give special attention in his speech to the General Assembly to what it called the "emergency" in Myanmar.

"The President should convince the assembly of the need for urgent action to stop the current critical situation in Myanmar and bring the military junta back to the discussion table with the pro-democracy National League," said caucus chairman Djoko Susilo.

The tension has been mounting in Myanmar after thousands of Buddhist monks took to streets over the past five days to protest against the military junta and demand implementation of the road map to democracy, including the unconditional release of Noble Prize laureate Aung San Syu Ki.

Separately, House foreign affairs commission chairman Theo Sambuaga said the President should assign a special delegate to Myanmar to tell the junta about the concrete measures that needed to be taken immediately to end the tension.

"The President should take the initiative by sending a delegate to Myanmar to ask the junta to engage in national reconciliation because, with the monks' move, the country is now on the brink of civil war," he said.

He also called on the government to lobby other ASEAN member countries not to invite Myanmar to the organization's summit in Singapore next month so as to isolate the military junta.

"ASEAN can no longer stick to the principal of non-interference engagement in dealing with the Myanmar issue because the military junta has given no signal that it will bring back democracy," he said.

Theo and Djoko, respectively legislators from the Golkar Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN), both said that the mounting tension in Myanmar was no longer a Myanmarese internal affair. Accordingly, the UN and ASEAN had to take concrete measures to end the human rights abuses.

They said Indonesia, the United States and other democratic countries should intensify their lobbying of China, Russia and India to abandon their support for the junta and ask for the trial of junta leaders before an international court for their repression of pro-democracy activists and other human rights abuses.

Theo added that it was really astonishing that India, as the biggest democratic country in the world, was supporting the dictatorship in Myanmar.

The military junta has detained hundreds of pro-democracy activists and National League members loyal to Syu Ki for their opposition to the dictatorship and repression.

Theo also said that Indonesia in its capacity as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council should play an intensive role in lobbying the United States, France and Britain to have the world body issue a resolution imposing firm sanctions on the military junta.

"An intensive diplomatic mission is needed to avoid possible bloodshed and uphold democracy in Myanmar."

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