25 May 2007

Free Burma

Free Aung San Suu Kyi - Free BurmaAs widely expected, a week after President Bush extended US economic sanctions against Burma and two days before the seventeenth anniversary of elections in which the National League for Democracy Party won a landslide victory, the Burmese government has extended the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military junta in Rangoon has been in power since leading a coup in September 1988 and the pro-democracy leader has been under house arrest for most of the years since her government was prevented from taking office in 1990. That so little is being done, both by Burma's neighbours in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and further afield, should be an international scandal.

As Caroline Spelman said about The Difference's Zimbabwe campaign, "Uncertain what would actually work to bring an end to human rights abuses, politicians in the developed world seem paralysed by inaction."

However, the British Government could start by making the promotion of human rights a priority in its own right, rather than consigning them to a sub-set of sustainable development priorities. We should also do a lot more to support dissidents and pro-democracy movements, and to document and publicise human rights violations.


Ben Rogers said...

It was no surprise, but a continuing great sadness, that Aung San Suu Kyi - one of the world's most inspiring people today - remains under house arrest. Despite a letter signed by almost 60 former prime ministers and presidents, including Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Bill Clinton, George Bush Snr and JImmy Carter, calling for her release, the Generals in Rangoon did not listen. The situation in Burma for the ethnic minorities also remains bleak - see news items on www.csw.org.uk and www.conservativehumanrights.com