[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 3 December 2005, 11:22 GMT
Asean urged to tackle Burma issue
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Burmese leader Than Shwe
Burmese leaders are facing pressure from their neighbours
A group of South East Asian lawmakers have called for next week's summit in Malaysia to tackle the issue of Burma.

They will call for Burma to be expelled from the regional bloc Asean if the regime does not improve its human rights record within 12 months.

Malaysian cabinet minister Nazri Aziz compared the Burmese junta with the regimes of Hitler and Stalin.

The condemnation comes as the UN Security Council calls for a report on Burma for the first time.

Democratic deficit

Burma is not due to be discussed at the annual meeting of leaders from the Association of South East Asian Nations or Asean.

The hosts Malaysia saw to that. But a group of lawmakers from across the region say that is not good enough.

The parliamentarians want Burma permanently on Asean's agenda and they want the grouping's secretary general to report regularly on the situation there.

The Philippines senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Junior says that the gentle approach simply has not worked.

"To my mind, you know, we also engage Myanmar by telling Myanmar 'Look you can't go on like this'," she said.

"Imprisoning Aung San Suu Kyi for 10 years without trial - I mean how can any country that claims to be civilised do that, though my own personal preference is to expel Myanmar from the Asean."

The tone of the parliamentarians' meeting suggests that South East Asia's democracies are losing patience with their authoritarian neighbour.

Next week's summit will be watched carefully to see whether the region's less democratic countries rally to Burma's side to help frustrate a development which might one day see their own shortcomings examined.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific