October 7, 2004

Read Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s article here

Tutu challenges governments on both sides of the argument over war in Iraq to prove their commitment to ending rule of oppressive dictators.

Writing in today’s International Herald Tribune, Archbishop Desmond Tutu issues a broadside against international inaction on Burma. He demands that governments do more to support Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s democracy movement. “If only as much noise, money, effort, was spent supporting the peacemakers of this world as is made in support of the use of war,” says Tutu. But those countries against the war in Iraq did not escape criticism: “If only those governments who claim to be against war showed their determination to support those at the front line of peace”, he continued.

His message is aimed at European and Asian leaders, who are attending the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Hanoi this weekend. “State terrorists from Burma will sit and dine with your leaders”, says Tutu. “The same leaders who proclaim war against terror every time they are on television or in the newspaper.”  Tutu describes Burma’s generals as being able to smell international inertia, and so feel they can continue to avoid sanctions.

“The Coalition of the willing and coalition of the unwilling ultimately have to show each other that something can be done on Burma”, says Tutu. “Are both sides truly committed to helping to end the rule of oppressive dictators, and to using all non-military means at their disposal to do so? With Burma, the answer so far has been a tragic no.”

John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK, welcomed Tutu’s intervention. “This is a clarion call for action on Burma, and it is all the more powerful coming from someone who knows what it is like to live under an oppressive regime. Tutu fought apartheid and knows how vital international support is. It is time for the international community to throw its weight behind Burma’s democrats.”

For more information contact Mark Farmaner, Media Officer, on 020 7324 4713


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