ASEAN issued a rare statement expressing its grave concern over the move by the country's military junta to try Suu Kyi, and reminded the Myanmar government that ASEAN leaders had called for her immediate release.
ASEAN has no provision to suspend or expel Myanmar from the 10-member Southeast Asia grouping, its secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said today (26 May). He said such tough actions involved political decisions that must be referred to the political leaders.
"We don't have any provision to suspend or eject any member. That needs to be discussed by the leaders," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Ninth Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) here.
The earliest ASEAN leaders will gather will be in October for the 15th Summit in Thailand.
Surin was asked to comment on the call by the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (Aipmc) to suspend or impose sanctions on Myanmar if the country's military regime continues to detain its democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.
"Aipmc parliamentarians strongly call on ASEAN to stop protecting Myanmar's regime and instead remove them from the grouping until and unless Aung San Suu Kyi is free and genuine efforts to begin national reconciliation are underway," Aipmc said today.
The call for action was raised after the junta put the detained democracy icon on trial on a charge of harbouring an American man who swam to her heavily-guarded home. On that charge, she faces up to five years in detention. Surin said concerns and frustrations over the situation in Myanmar had been expressed at the highest level, not only in the region but also at the international level, including at ASEM.
"I hope something good will prevail, with transparency and confidence to resolve the issue," he said, but declined to confirm if the Myanmar issue would be included in the Chairman's Statement at the end of the two-day gathering of foreign ministers from 45 countries.
Last week, ASEAN issued a rare statement expressing its grave concern over the move by the country's military junta to try Suu Kyi, and reminded the Myanmar government that ASEAN leaders had called for her immediate release.
Asked if he had expressed the concern with Myanmar's Foreign Minister Major General Nyan Win, who is also here, Surin said he did not.
"I did not meet him but some other ministers might have done that," the former Thai foreign minister said.
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Mysinchew ASEAN has no provision to expel Myanmar 26 May 2009