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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9586

Ms Julie Bishop asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 11 August 2009:

(1)   What specific protests has the Government lodged with the Burmese regime over the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.

(2)   Has any Government official contacted other countries on this matter; if so, (a) which countries, (b) at what level, (c) on what dates, and (d) what specific actions were discussed on each occasion.

(3)   Has the Government made any representations to the Burmese regime about the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi whilst detained.

(4)   Has the Government been in contact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regarding Aung San Suu Kyi; if so, (a) on what date/s, and (b) at what level.

Mr Stephen Smith (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   A central message in representations to the Burmese regime has consistently been the Government’s call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.  The detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is repeatedly protested by the Government directly to the Burmese regime. 

(2)   Yes. The situation in Burma is a foreign policy priority for the Government.  It has been, and continues to be, the subject of numerous diplomatic discussions and representations between Australian officials and those of other governments including by Australian Ambassadors, embassy staff, and visiting officials, as well as with members of the diplomatic corps in Canberra.  Consistent with the practice of successive Governments, I do not intend to elaborate further as it would be inappropriate to provide details of confidential discussions with other governments.

(3)   Yes.  The Government, through the Australian Embassy in Rangoon, has made a number of representations on Aung San Suu Kyi’s treatment in detention, including pressing the authorities to ensure she has access to medical care and legal advice.

(4)   Yes.  I have raised Aung San Suu Kyi’s situation with the ASEAN Secretary-General.  I have also discussed Burma with my ASEAN counterparts.  Australia’s Ambassador to ASEAN meets regularly with representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat and member countries.  She discusses a range of issues including relevant human rights matters and the situation in Burma.