Activists Increase Pressure as EU Looks to Review Common Position on Burma
By Salai Za Uk Ling – 5 February 2007 – Berlin: Activists from Burma have stepped up effort to shore up support from Europe as the most powerful regional bloc prepares to review its common position on Burma. A delegation of Chin and Kachin and representatives from the National Council of the Union of Burma and the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma met with German Foreign Ministry in Berlin to persuade the German government to increase pressures on Burma’s military regime. A separate meeting was held in the Parliament with a group of German legislators.
Germany currently occupies the European Union presidency and Burma’s pro-democracy activists see it as an important opportunity to influence the European regional policy on Burma. The joint delegation updated current political situations in Burma and pressed Germany to lead effort to strengthen EU common policy on the Southeast Asian country. According to EU officials, the common position is composed of three major focuses: Sanction, critical dialogue and assistance.
Earlier in the week, the Chin and Kachin delegation met with EU officials and lawmakers in the European Parliament and raised several concerns including issue of religious freedom in Burma and the need to strengthen the regional common position. “A strong message from the EU is essential to signal to the military regime the world doesn’t accept its behavior,” the delegation told the German Foreign Ministry. They said that the military regime should not be allowed to receive the wrong message after two of the world’s super power vetoed a proposed UN Security Council resolution on Burma last month.
The activists proposed changes to the current language in the EU common position to reflect formal recognition of the role of the ethnic nationalities in the political process in Burma. They also asked the European Union to increase humanitarian assistance and funding for the democracy and human right movement as part of its commitment towards democratic change in Burma.
The Chin and Kachin delegation, which has traveled to London, Brussels and Berlin, is heading to Washington D.C for advocacy in the United States where they will meet with senior Congressional and Senate members and representatives from the State Department and the Commission of International Religious Freedom.
The delegation is represented by members from the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), Women’s League of Chinland (WLC) and Kachin Women’s Association, Thailand (KWAT) and sponsored by UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldide.