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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6682

Ms PLIBERSEK (Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women) (10:34 AM) —I want to talk today about an issue that has been very important in my electorate of Sydney. Many of my constituents have a great deal of interest in, and support and concern for, the issue and have joined the campaign to free Aung San Suu Kyi from detention in Burma, particularly now, in the lead-up to the elections that are scheduled to take place later this year.

Since 1989 Aung San Suu Kyi has spent almost 15 years under house arrest. We know that for most of that time she has been separated from her family; she has been separated from her supporters and her friends. She has had incredibly difficult restrictions placed on her and has been held responsible when other people have broken the ban on making contact with her. Burma also has more than 2,000 other political prisoners currently in detention with numbers increasing as the election comes closer.

I am privileged to be an ambassador for Aung San Suu Kyi for one of the groups supporting democracy in Burma. Her fight for freedom in her country is an example of true heroism in the face of injustice. In support for the campaign to have Daw Aung San Suu Kyi released, I sent this message to a recent meeting:

I extend my strong support in respect for Aung San Suu Kyi’s pursuit of human rights and democracy in Burma. Her long and unrelenting struggle is a symbol of her personal courage and resilience in the face of injustice.

The Australian Government consistently calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the release of more than 2000 other political prisoners in Burma. I add my voice to this call for meaningful change in Burma and the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

I remain inspired by Aung San Suu Kyi’s unfaltering commitment to bring democracy and human rights to the people of Burma and hope that she celebrates her next birthday in freedom.

Democracy in Burma can only happen when the people there are free to express their political opinions and their political will in terms of their government. The Australian government, with the international community, will be watching the upcoming elections in Burma with great interest. We will not forget the struggle when elections occur later this year and we will continue to be committed to peace, genuine democracy and human rights in Burma.