May 14, 2004

NLD FORCED TO BOYCOTT NATIONAL CONVENTION

The Burma Campaign UK today called on the European Union and United Nations to end their dithering on Burma and impose targeted economic sanctions against the regime.

“By refusing to allow the National League for Democracy (NLD) to participate fully in the National Convention the regime’s democracy road map has been exposed as a sham,” said John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “The EU must withdraw their support for this process and back the NLD. The EU promised action if there was no improvement in Burma. It is time they delivered on their word.”

The NLD had called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and for changes to the National Convention so that they could take part. Under Burmese law ‘5/96’ any NLD member taking part in the Convention could face 20 years in prison if they expressed political views. At the last National Convention Dr Aung Khin Sint, an NLD MP, was sentenced to twenty years in prison simply for circulating a document critical of the convention.

Discussing sanctions in June 2003, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw commented of the regime that: “It responds only to direct pressure.” He promised that: “Further pressure will follow unless the regime moves rapidly to restore civilian rule and democracy.”  In fact repression has increased since then, with Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Rapporteur reporting a deterioration of the human rights situation in Burma.

In October 2003 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the UN General Assembly that: “Unless the parties concerned are able to engage in substantive dialogue, the international community will have to conclude that the home-grown national reconciliation process no longer exists.”  He went on to say that if this were the case the UN would have to review taking further action.

“It is now clear that there is no internal process to bring democracy to Burma,” said John Jackson. “It is time for the international community to respond to the democracy movement’s call for help. The EU must ban financial transactions and investment in Burma, and ban imports of Burmese timber and gems. It is also time the UN Security Council discussed Burma. At present there is not even a UN arms embargo on Burma.”

For more information contact Mark Farmaner Media Officer on 020 7324 4713 or John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK, on 020 7324 4712

NOTE TO EDITORS:

1. Since its announcement of a ‘roadmap’ to democracy in August 2003, Burma’s ruling military has been engaged in a nationwide crackdown on Burma’s democrats. A recent report by Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean) revealed widespread human rights abuses, including: the sentencing to death of journalists, the shooting of political prisoners and the arrest, imprisonment and torture of pro-democracy activists. The report can be viewed here

2. In 1990 election the NLD won 82% of the seats in Parliament. Despite this, at the last National Convention in 1993 they made up just 13% of the delegates. At the Convention due to be launched on Monday the NLD would have had made up around 2.7% of the delegates.

 


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