Dáil Éireann - Volume 622 - 29 June, 2006
Written Answers. - Human Rights Issues.
Ms O’Sullivan Ms O’Sullivan
Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the recent efforts he has made to request the release and restoration to liberty of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, the return to democracy in Burma and an end to human rights violations in that country. [25260/06]
Mr. Stanton Mr. Stanton
Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the latest contacts that he has had with his European counterparts with regard to Burma and the continued holding of the most visible pro-democracy leader in that country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25146/06]
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if there are proposals under consideration within his Department with regard to the extension of diplomatic relations to Burma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25147/06]
Mr. G. Murphy Mr. G. Murphy
Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position with regard to the diplomatic links between Ireland and Burma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25148/06]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Mr. D. Ahern: I propose to take Questions Nos. 22, 56, 86 and 92 together.
Ireland takes a consistently strong position on Burma, including in the European Union framework and at the United Nations. Together with our EU partners, we avail of all opportunities to call for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi, to condemn the abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms and deplore the lack of progress towards democracy in Burma.
The recent visit by UN Under-Secretary-General (UN USG) Gambari to Burma from 18-20 May was the first high-level visit to that country by a UN representative in more than two years. I welcome the fact that he was able to meet with the most senior Burmese leaders as well as with Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of her party, the National League for Democracy, during the visit. I also welcome the agreement by the Burmese government that the UN should play a role in promoting common ground between the government and the National League for Democracy so that the National Convention, which is due to resume its work in October, can proceed in a more inclusive way. I would appeal to the Burmese authorities to live up to their undertakings in this regard.
 While welcoming the above developments, I remain very concerned about the situation. On 26 May, the EU issued a statement which noted with deep concern that the process of democratisation in Burma had recently suffered a worrying setback as the Burmese government stepped up its pressure against ethnic groups and the two main political parties. The statement noted that these actions contradict the professed intention to establish a genuine democratic nation. The statement also urged the Burmese government to accelerate the democratisation process, a process which should engage all political and ethnic forces in the country in a genuine dialogue and lead to the speedy completion of a constitution under civilian rule, which commands popular support and promotes peaceful and sustainable development.
I remain deeply concerned that Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained continuously for three years without charge and, once more, urge the Burmese government to restore fully her freedom and civil liberties. UN USG Gambari’s visit generated high hopes that her detention under house arrest, which was up for renewal a few days after he left Burma, might not be renewed by the authorities. This did not happen. On 27 May, the EU issued a further statement which deeply regretted the decision of the Burmese government to extend the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and deplored the fact that international appeals, including that of the EU, had once again gone unheard.
The situation in Burma was most recently discussed at the EU General Affairs and External Council Meeting in Luxembourg on 12 June. On that occasion the Netherlands called for EU support for a possible initiative at the UN Security Council. While I am not aware of any plans for this to happen in the near future it is something I would very much welcome. The EU applies a range of sanctions and restrictive measures against Burma, referred to as the EU Common Position, which had been due to expire on 30 April but which has been renewed for a further year. In the absence of any significant progress in Burma, Ireland strongly supported the renewal.
The Government made an announcement about the establishment of diplomatic relations on a non-resident basis with Burma on 13 February 2004. However, given that the political and human rights progress which had been expected of the Burmese Authorities at that time, most notably the meeting of an open and unhindered National Convention and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, was not delivered on, the Government decided to put the process in cold storage. Any decision to reactivate the process will have to await positive and significant moves on the above lines by the Burmese Government.
I will continue to raise concerns about Burma on all possible occasions and to call on the Bur mese government to assume its responsibilities towards its people and to allow the fullest possible UN involvement in a genuine process of democratisation and reconciliation.
Dáil Éireann 622 Written Answers. Human Rights Issues.