The Parliamentary Assembly is a protagonist for the Council of Europe in promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law wherever they are neglected. Today, the Council of Europe must confirm its attachment to these values with regard to Myanmar.
Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organisations have repeatedly detailed a gruesome litany of abuse in Myanmar, including murder, torture, rape, detention without trial, massive forced relocations and forced labour.
In spite of the 2007 anti-government protests, the regime has remained austere, having organised a referendum in 2008 on a constitution which, coming into force after the elections this year, gives the military effective veto power over parliament, reserves 25% of the seats for the military, does not grant MPs freedom of speech and does not address concerns of ethnic minorities in Burma.
The Government of Myanmar has not agreed to, or even entered into dialogue about, requests made by the United Nations that the elections should be conducted in a free and fair manner in line with international norms, and that more than 2 100 political prisoners be released and allowed to take part in the elections.
Unfortunately, there are doubts that some of the Council of Europe member states support the Government of Myanmar, for example by providing them with weaponry. Therefore, it is essential that the Assembly studies the situation thoroughly and based on the findings adopt an agreement on a common policy.