Seven years after winning its independence following nearly five centuries of foreign domination, East Timor is firmly and proudly building its future, despite the heavy burden of widespread, deep-rooted poverty.
ASEAN made history with its recent public remarks about Burma and its military government, calling upon them to release popular national leader Suu Kyi from house arrest and to take action to settle the country\'s long-running civil and political wars, writes Jose Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate and East Timor\'s Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this article, Ramos-Horta writes that this reflected the mounting alarm of ASEAN leaders of Burma\'s right to assume the chairmanship of the group in 2006. If there is no change, in 2006 ASEAN will be led by a military government that keeps over 1,300 political prisoners, relies on forced labour for public works, and has left over one million people internally displaced, ASEAN must encourage and expect Burma to seriously engage with its own people, especially Suu Kyi, her party, and the political leaders of the ethnic nationalities. We must encourage and expect Burma to engage with its neighbours, with ASEAN, and with the United Nations, to effect political and economic change. And we must encourage and expect the SPDC to demonstrate their leadership bona fides by rising to these challenges.
Current events in Burma are deeply disturbing, writes Jose Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and East Timor\'s minister for foreign affairs. Revered monk Sayadaw U Satetara, a high-ranking member of the holy Sangha and strong supporter of imprisoned Burmese opposition leader Suu Kyi, passed away last week from what many suspect were not natural causes. Suu Kyi remains incarcerated and held incommunicado. In this article for IPS, the author writes that leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-- of which Burma is a member -- must keep up the pressure on the Burmese generals. Embarrassed that the international reputation of ASEAN was suffering because of the gross and systematic human rights violations in Burma, the ministers demanded at their recent annual meeting that Suu Kyi be freed immediately. As regional powers, China, Japan, and India, working closely with Indonesia, current chair of ASEAN, must resolve this impasse. Failure to do so will weaken ASEAN and undermine its international influence. In the 1970s, we witnessed regional silence and complicity surrounding the Cambodian tragedy. It will be tragic if the same attitude is adopted with regard to Burma.