More voices needed in Myanmar, rights group says

Oct. 16, 2013 at 10:14 AM   |   Comments

PARIS, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A European focus on normalizing relations with Myanmar risks sidelining the civil voice needed for an inclusive democracy, a Parisian rights consortium said.

Members of the international community have reached out to establish better ties with Myanmar since military rule ended with general elections in 2010. The International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French initials FIDH, said it was concerned about the direction of engagement.

A European Union-Myanmar task force on bilateral relations is set for a November launch in Yangon and Naypyitaw, the nation's capital. FIDH sent a letter to Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief for the EU, calling for more civil engagement in Myanmar, a country known also as Burma.

"At present the EU is seen as prioritizing normalization of relations with the Burmese government, above and beyond its commitment to civil society," FIDH said Tuesday. "This perception, fair or otherwise, undermines EU policies in the country, keeps civil society away from policy processes, and ultimately weakens the prospects of transition."

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, took her seat in the Myanmar Parliament during by-elections last year. She's called for more women to serve in Myanmar's legislative assembly.

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