Friday, January 16, 2009

Thai shift on Burma human rights?

Irrawaddy reports that Thailand's new PM Abhisit said it is time for "change" in regards to Thailand's policy with regards to Burma. Abhisit elaborated:
The Thai government will use a “flexible engagement” policy in relation to Burma under the Democrat administration, he said. The “flexible engagement” policy was outlined by Surin Pitsuwan, the former Thai foreign minister and current secretary-general of Asean in 1999. He said Asean should move from a “constructive engagement” approach to the "flexible engagement" policy.

“Flexible engagement” was about open and frank discussion on issues such as human rights, leading to cooperative solutions — a pooling of sovereignty rather than its dilution, so as to make Southeast Asia a secure and prosperous region, according to analysts.
What this could mean in practice remains unclear, but considering that Thailand has been one of the junta's staunchest defenders, it is a hopeful sign that a Thai PM would acknowledge this much.

In November Myanmar's junta sentenced numerous critics, including a poet and blogger, to long prison terms. See here for background on Burma.

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