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Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release: cause for cautious celebration.



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Senator Vicki Bourne Australian Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

6th May 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/212

http://www.democrats.org.au/

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release: Cause for Cautious Celebration

The Australian Democrats have welcomed the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in Burma, but are urging the Howard Government not to rush into relaxing restrictions on the Burmese military junta.

“The release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest is a long awaited step towards political reform in Burma, but time will tell whether the Burmese authority’s intentions are genuine,” said Democrats’ Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Vicki Bourne.

“Burma’s human rights record is still extremely poor with continued reports of forced labour, torture and persecution of ethnic minorities.

“While Aung San Suu Kyi’s release is a very positive sign, the real test will be whether the Burmese military junta intends to make real improvements for the human rights of ordinary Burmese and bring about a genuine path to democracy,” said Senator Bourne.

Australia currently has limited relations with Burma and provides only minimal development assistance, although there is considerable commercial interest in normalising relations.

“Australia must resist giving in to pressure to restore commercial links with Burma at this stage.

“Any assistance we provide must be clearly benchmarked against reforms,” said Senator Bourne.

“An acceptable initial step in response to Aung San Suu Kyi’s release might be to provide further Australian assistance to civil groups in Burma that are working to promote peace and democracy, and to arrest the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Senator Bourne concluded.

Media Inquiries: Senator Vicki Bourne 0418 861 098/02 9247 3377 Media Inquiries: Senator Vicki Bourne 0418 861 098/02 9247 3377 Media Inquiries: Senator Vicki Bourne 0418 861 098/02 9247 3377 Media Inquiries: Senator Vicki Bourne 0418 861 098/02 9247 3377