Although the President of Burma has repeatedly said that the country is on the right track of reform path, more than 20 student-activists were recently detained in Burma. It happened ahead of an intended commemoration ceremony of the 50th anniversary of the 7th July brutal military onslaught on Rangoon University students.

Concerning the recent arrests of students, The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) today called on the government of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) to immediately release student leaders detained in Mandalay, Yangon and other cities. AIPMC also urges the regime ensuring basic freedom of the citizens. The statement says students and civil society groups must have the freedom of assembly and freedom to exercise their democratic rights.

According to the press release, AIPMC is in Burma on a fact-finding visit to assess the current reform process. The student leaders were apparently in custody ahead of plans to hold events to commemorate the bombing of the Student Union building of Rangoon University in 1962. The 7 July crackdown was led by the late General Ne Win after he seized the power on 2 March of 1962. He initiated decades of military rule and oppression in Burma.

Vice President of AIPMC and Cambodian Member of Parliament, Son Chhay said, “We are extremely disappointed that this event occurred, especially so as it is during our trip to assess the often lauded reform process. This act of oppression has given us the impression that the old ways of practice are still in effect despite all the positivity for change that we have been hearing.”

Son Chhay said that the latest arrests of the students were unacceptable. If the government of Burma wants to impress the international community, it should not be a repressive country, and the Burmese government must act differently, he said.

“If they are even going to arrest people before any crime has taken place, this shows that they continue to use fear and intimidation to repress. This is one of the many things that we have learned over the past few days we have spent in this country. We will have to report to the international community and consider ourselves to determine the best way to proceed to help the people of Burma,” Son Chhay highlighted his view on current negative steps of Burma.

AIPMC expressed in its statement dated 7 July 2012 that fifteen young student leaders from the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) mostly in Yangon, Mandalay, Myinggyan and Lashio, have been under arrest by security forces. It was uncertain on what charges they were detained, AIPMC revealed in the press statement.

AIPMC supports the 88 Generation’s calls for the immediate release of D Nyein Lin, Sithu Maung, Phyo Phyo Aung, Ye Myat Hein, and the other 11 student leaders known to have been in custody.

The Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, or AIPMC, which comprises representatives from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia, urged their governments to take the situation in the military influenced country seriously. ASEAN could otherwise lose its credibility. The AIPMC was originally formed by Malaysian legislators in May 2004.

The current President of the AIPMC is Ms. Eva Kusuma Sundari, Member of the Indonesian Parliament. Mr. Kraisak Choonhavan, Member of the Thai Parliament, has been serving as Vice-President of the AIPMC as well as chair of the Thai national AIPMC caucus.

Besides, Ms. Agung Putri Astrid has taken responsibility as Executive Director of the AIPMC. She was formerly Executive Director of the Indonesian Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy, Elsam.

The grouping of ASEAN Legislators has repeatedly called for the unconditional release of almost political prisoners in Burma.