Activists call for delay in Myanmar's ASEAN chairmanship

Activists are calling on the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to postpone Myanmar's chairmanship until all political prisoners are released.

"We should not rush in and give the carrot away too soon," Khin Ohmar, coordinator for the Burma Partnership, a regional advocacy network for human rights in Myanmar, said on 26 October. "What we want is genuine political change, not window dressing."

Myanmar's request to chair ASEAN in 2014, just one year before the next elections, comes after the release of 220 political prisoners, out of a total 6,359, on 12 October. Meanwhile, more than 1,800 former activists remain in prison.

"The Burmese regime must start to respect the political rights of the people as the first step towards national reconciliation," said Ko Bo Kyi, co-founder of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma). The decision will be announced at the ASEAN summit in Bali on 17 November.