UK And France Press For Burmese Democratic Reform
UK and France press for Burmese democracy
Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have called for immediate democratic reform in Burma, and the release of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a joint letter to Aung San Suu Kyi to mark her birthday, the two leaders praised the leader of the National League for Democracy for her exceptional courage and dedication to the Burmese people.
Read the letter
A recent referendum in Burma "lacks credibility" Mr Brown and Mr Sarkozy said.
"We call on the Government of Burma to set in motion, without delay, a fully inclusive political process which involves representatives of the full range of civil opposition and ethnic groups."
"Bold initiatives and compromises" are required and the present situation is neither "satisfactory nor sustainable", they added.
Turning to relief efforts in Burma after the recent cyclone, they expressed sadness at the lack of urgency from the ruling military junta to allow aid to flow freely into affected areas.
The leaders described current relief efforts by aid agencies as encouraging, and committed themselves to helping the immediate relief effort and longer-term reconstruction.
Mr Brown is due to meet the French President today for talks at the EU Council meeting in Brussels.
Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have released an open letter to Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. The two leaders praised Aung San Suu Kyi for her courage and dedication to the Burmese people.
Open Letter to Aung San Suu Kyi (19 June 2008)
Dear Aung San Suu Kyi,
We wish to use this opportunity, on the occasion of your birthday, to reaffirm our commitment to your lifelong struggle to achieve democracy and humanity in Burma. You have sacrificed your freedom for the freedom of others. You have shown exceptional courage and dedication to your people.
Your release from house arrest and your freedom to participate in Burma's political future remain essential. We believe the recent referendum lacks credibility as a genuine reflection of the people's will and the new constitution cannot provide a sound basis for Burma's future political development. We call on the Government of Burma to set in motion, without delay, a fully inclusive political process which involves representatives of the full range of civil opposition and ethnic groups.
We welcome your readiness to have a genuine and meaningful dialogue with the military leadership to find a way out of the current stalemate. We are convinced that this voice of humanity and reason will be heard, as people must now realize that bold initiatives and compromises are required and that the present situation is neither satisfactory nor sustainable.
We are very concerned by the humanitarian situation following Cyclone Nargis, and greatly saddened that Burma's people, already deprived of basic human freedoms and economic opportunities, have fallen victim to such a major natural disaster. We were further deeply saddened that offers of international aid were not taken up at a sufficient scale at the outset, but we are pleased that ASEAN countries and the ASEAN Secretary General were able to initiate a response, and that Ban Ki-Moon has given his personal support to the process.
The work of the regional and international aid agencies has been encouraging, however more needs to be done to ensure aid reaches all the people in acute need and to prevent further suffering and loss of life. The UK and France have immediately committed themselves to helping the relief effort and will support the ASEAN mechanism for longer term reconstruction. The success of the international effort will rely on the actions and conditions set by the Government of Burma.
We admire your strength in reconciling the hopes of Burma's many groups and dedication to the country's national integrity. We will not forget you or your people in this struggle.
Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy