January 18, 2001

The Burma Campaign UK today cautioned against undue optimism about the prospects for democracy in Burma following reports that the Burmese military dictatorship has entered into talks with National League for Democracy (NLD) leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
It is the first time the military dictatorship has entered into talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won 82% of the seats in parliamentary elections in 1990. The military refused to transfer power.
“These talks are good news, and show that international pressure is starting to work” says Yvette Mahon, Director of The Burma Campaign UK. But she warns that Burma is now entering a critical period. “These talks could just be a ploy by the regime to try to alleviate international pressure. It is vital at this stage that we keep up pressure until we see real change.”
“The military have broken too many promises in the past to be trusted on face value. Lets look at the facts: Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest, NLD offices have been forced to close and there are over 1,700 political prisoners. We need to see action as well as words.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1) South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described Burma as “the new South Africa” and called on people across the world to campaign for democracy in Burma.
2) Burma’s 46 million population suffer from some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. Around 8 million men, women and children are forced into labour by the military regime every year.
3) Over half of Burma’s people have no access to health services. As a percentage of GDP the military regime spends 15 times more on the military than on health services.
4) The Burma Campaign is the only national organisation in the UK dedicated solely to campaigning for freedom and democracy in Burma.
For more information please call Yvette Mahon on 07957 301 346 or Mark Farmaner on 0794 123 9640.


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