QUESTION NO: 1009
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO: 9 OF 30 MARCH 2010
Mr S Mokgalapa (DA) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:
What is the Government’s position with regard to the election ban of Aung San Suu Kyi in the upcoming Burma elections?
The South African Government has consistently deplored the human rights situation in Myanmar and specifically the ongoing house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The South African Government has taken note of the electoral laws that have been passed in Myanmar in preparation for the upcoming elections later in 2010, and is deeply concerned that their provisions do not seem to be conducive to all inclusive, democratic elections. In particular, it is concerned that all persons who have been imprisoned for political activism against the Military Government are deemed to have “criminal records” and are excluded from joining any political party. In the case of Aung San Suu Kyi as leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), her party would have had to expel her in order to take part in the elections.
The South African Government recalls its statements issued in May 2009 and in August 2009 following the arrest, trial and conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi on a charge of subversion after an uninvited intrusion by an American man into the compound where she was being held under house arrest. At the time, the South African Government expressed its regret and sadness at these developments and called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi as well as other political prisoners in order to allow them to participate in the electoral process.
The South African Government remains of the opinion that the challenges relating to nation building and inclusive government in Myanmar could only be overcome through a negotiated settlement based on dialogue in which all parties and interest groups participate. Aung San Suu Kyi, as leader of the National League for Democracy, has an important part to play in this process and her exclusion from the elections as well as all others who have been imprisoned for advocating a more equitable political dispensation, could only result in elections which would not be viewed as free and fair. South Africa continues to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar, but believes that an opportunity for progress towards democratisation, nation building and reconciliation has been lost.