MYANMAR/BURMA: Myanmar’s neighbours would benefit from its political transformation

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to you concerning the dramatic and rapidly worsening events in Myanmar of the last few weeks, about which you are fully aware.

Many persons around the world maintain that Myanmar’s neighbours are largely responsible for the propping up of its military dictatorship, which but for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), China and India, would not have been able to retain power for the last two decades.

Whether right or wrong, this assertion points to the vital role that your countries will together have in seeing Myanmar towards a new and brighter future.

It is the view of the AHRC that in fact it is in the best interests of all Myanmar’s neighbours to help it through a political transformation, and that now is the time to do it.

People throughout Myanmar are downtrodden and hungry. Their best and brightest have gone abroad or are driving taxicabs and doing odd jobs in its cities and towns. Farmers are capable of far greater output than they are able to deliver. Maladministration and corruption have crippled nascent industry. Bountiful natural resources are being misappropriated. Private armies run large parts of the frontier regions and internal strife seems unending.

Not only is such a country itself unable to progress, but it is also a burden upon it neighbours. It sells little and buys less. It is the source of millions of refugees and migrants, and of latent cross-border conflict. It remains sunken, unproductive and uncreative, not for want of talent and potential, but due to inept government and aimless repression.

Thus, there is no sum advantage for any of your countries in the existing state of affairs. All would benefit from political change. And none need fear change. Whatever government has power in Burma, the economic and political weight of India, China and ASEAN would ensure its continued cooperation and good relations with its neighbours. And were you to contribute to that change, it would also create much lasting goodwill, particularly at this historic time.

As this letter is being prepared, shooting has begun on the streets of Yangon. Time is of the utmost essence. The Asian Human Rights Commission calls upon you to do everything within your disposal, unilaterally and multilaterally, to prevent violence in Myanmar and see the country through to a new period that will be of benefit both to its own people, to the people of your own countries, and beyond. Please do not hesitate.

Yours sincerely

Basil Fernando
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong


1. Mr. Hu Jintao, President, People’s Republic of China
2. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Republic of India
3. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Brunei Darussalam
4. Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Cambodia
5. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President, Republic of Indonesia
6. Mr. Bouasone Bouphavanh, Prime Minister, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
7. Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister, Federation of Malaysia
8. Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President, Republic of the Philippines
9. Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister, Republic of Singapore
10. General Surayud Chulanont, Interim Prime Minister, Kingdom of Thailand
11. Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister, Socialist Republic of Vietnam