After meeting with Zarganar, AIPMC calls for release of political prisoners in BurmaBy Zin Linn Dec 23, 2011 10:27PM UTC
The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) released a press release today reiterating its call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Burma (Myanmar) as a precondition for genuine democratic change in the Southeast Asian country.
The call came as AIPMC Vice-President, Cambodian MP and Chair of the AIPMC Cambodia Caucus, Son Chhay, met with comedian Maung Thura, known as Zarganar, on December 21 in Phnom Penh.
Zarganar, on his first trip outside of Burma since being granted a passport, met with Son Chhay and other MPs from the Sam Rainsy Party in Phnom Penh on Wednesday evening.
Son Chhay said that Zarganar shared his experience of Burma’s prisons, where he and other political prisoners have suffered countless abuses.
“It is crucial to free all political prisoners immediately, if President Thein Sein’s move toward democracy is to be seen as genuine and fully inclusive,” he said.
Son Chhay highlights that despite oppression under a military regime, Zarganar’s strength and determination is well-built and it is a good example for people to learn. His ability to remain positive and committed to standing up against injustice despite the very real threat to his life and security is very admirable, he added.
“I only hope all of us in other ASEAN countries can learn from his example and help establish human rights standards and genuine democracy as pillars in Myanmar and our own countries,” he also emphasizes.
Zarganar expressed his gratitude to AIPMC for its years of hard work to help end human rights violations in Burma and facilitate convincingly for a return to democracy. He also expressed his full support for AIPMC’s plan to visit Myanmar (Burma) in February 2012, saying it could help to ensure genuine reform and reduce human rights violations in an ASEAN-member country.
Burma will likely become chairman of ASEAN in 2014. As part of AIPMC’s long-standing goals to secure democracy and an end to human rights violations, and in light of recent developments within Burma, AIPMC intends to make an official visit to Myanmar in early 2012.
The press release says that a delegation of AIPMC member MPs and staff from the Executive Secretariat plan to travel to Yangon and Naypyidaw to meet with various actors, including members of the political opposition, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the National League of Democracy, as well as members of civil society, ethnic representatives and representatives of the government, parliamentarians, and members of the National Human Rights Commission.
“Reforms are taking place in Myanmar and we hope to be able to support these changes,” said AIPMC President and member of Indonesian Parliament Eva Kusuma Sundari.
“We want to see the Myanmar government take concrete steps towards ensuring all political prisoners are released; we want to see real efforts made by the government and military to cease all state violence and human rights violations against its own civilians, especially ethnic minorities and other vulnerable peoples; and we would like to see inclusive dialog between the government, ethnic leaders and the political opposition held soon as a step towards national reconciliation and peace,” she said.
Popular for his political jokes and satire on military rule, regardless of dictatorship, 50-year-old Zarganar was thrown into jail four times by Burma’s previous military junta.He has been spent a total of eight years behind bars. He was released from his latest prison term in October under a government amnesty together with other 200 political prisoners.
Since his release, Zarganar has been working to assess the changes taking place in his country, meeting regularly with Aung San Suu Kyi and working for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners still languishing in jails.
“Education is very important if you want people to fully understand what democracy and human rights actually are and mean,” Zarganar said while meeting with members of AIPMC. He said Burmese youths need to travel abroad to learn real democracy and human rights.
Zarganar also said that he would travel to the United States for three-month study tour at the William J. Clinton Foundation around end of January 2012.