EU Urged to Strengthen Stance on Burma
By Salai Za Uk Ling – 4 February 2007 – Brussels: A delegation of Chin and Kachin activists has urged the European Union to adopt stronger measures against Burma during a three-day visit to Brussels. The delegation met with several Members of European Parliament, representatives from the European Commission and Council of Ministers.
“In light of the recent thwarting of United Nations Security Council resolution on Burma, it is important that the European Union send a strong signal to the military regime that the veto by China and Russia doesn’t mean a green light to continue committing crimes against its citizens” the delegation told EU representatives. They urged the European Union to take note of the opinion of the majority of the Security Council members in voting in favor of the resolution despite a double veto by China and Russia.
The Chin and Kachin delegation was represented by Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)’s Women’s League of Chinland (WLC) and Kachin Women Association, Thailand (KWAT).
The delegation also urged the European regional bloc to strengthen its common position on Burma which is up for review at the end of April.
The common position reflects a binding commitment of each of the 27 members of European governments towards Burma which is reviewed every year. According to EU officials, the common position consists of three key areas: Sanctions or criticism, critical dialogue and assistance.
“We would like to see all three areas strengthened to encourage positive developments in Burma,” the delegation told EU members. They also emphasized the need for the EU common position to acknowledge the role of Burma’s ethnic nationalities in the political process. The team also raised the issue of religious freedom and urged EU governments to call for an investigation by the United Nations Special Rapportuer on Freedom of Religion and Belief into the issue of religious freedom in Burma.
The Chin and Kachin delegation made a similar request to the British government and Members of the UK Parliament. During their 10-day stay in the UK, last week, the delegation met with the British Minister at the Foreign Affairs Office and a number of Parliamentarians. A group of British Mps recently tabled a motion in Parliament calling on Burma’s military regime to end religious persecution and other human rights violations in the country. So far the motion has attracted nearly 100 signatures from legislators. The delegation also pushed for similar motions to be introduced in the European Parliament.
The Chin and Kachin delegation visited Oxford and gave presentations to a group of students and faculty members at Oxford University St. Hugh’s College at the unveiling of a new Aung San Suu Kyi portirat. “It’s very symbolic to be speaking in the same college Aung San Suu Kyi studied in and a room dedicated to her at the unveiling of her new portrait painted by a Karen refugee. I think it symbolizes ethnic unity,”said Victor Biak Lian of Chin Human Rights Organization.
During their stay in Brussels, the delegation also met with the deputy ambassador of the Indian High Commission where the where they raised the issues of democratization in Burma and situations of refugees in India.
The Chin and Kachin delegation advocacy trip was organized by UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide. According to Benedict Rogers, Advocacy Officer for South Asia at CSW who authored a new damning report on the persecution of Christians in Burma, the trip was organized to raise awareness on the plight of tow of the most forgotten ethnic groups in Burma.