[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
Press release of BILL RICHARDSON, a
Subject: Press release of BILL RICHARDSON, at the FCCT, Dusit Thani, Bkk
Bill Richardson, US Congressman
Press Conference at the FCCT, Dusit Thani, Bangkok, Thailand
Date: May 30, 1995
I arrived Sunday night at Rangoon and I was there Monday. I came
this morning and went to Thai-Burma Border. I have a short-ten
minute prepared statement.
During the course my visit to Burma, I met with Gen Khin Nyunt,
the vice-Prime minister, I met with embassadors, met opposition
leaders, Red Cross and members of American Embassy.
The purpose of my trip was to follow up and get a first hand look
at what is happening in Burma. You may know I have arrived here
in February 1994, when I was the first non-family member
permitted to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi and I had two meetings. I
had long standing interest in Burma and this is the third trip.
My trip to Burma was, unsuccessful, frustrating and
disappointing, unsuccessful, frustrating and disappointing.
Here's my conclusion after my trip. There is serious repression,
regression and retrenchment by the Slorc in the area of human
rights and democratization since the first of the year. I was
unsuccessful in the following areas:
I was unable to see Aung San Suu Kyi or any political prisoners
in Insein prison. You may know on last two trips I was permitted
access to visit political prisoners; over 25 prisoners on my
first two visits. This time I was not given any access to any
Secondly I was unable to persuade the SLORC to accept the
International Committee for Red Cross as they had committed to.
They have quite unfair and unreasonable conditions on the RED
Cross operation. The Red Cross would be there to inspect at their
presence. I was unable to even persuade the Slorc to give a visa
to Michael Aris, Aung San Suu Kyi's husband. Late last year there
was some promising developments in Burma. Perhaps after my trips
and the trip of Mr Tom Harper, Deputy Assistance Secretary of
State for Asian Affairs, there was release at that time of a
hundred political prisoners. There was a commitment by the SLORC
after my trip to permit the ICRC to inspect the prisons. A
dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi had taken place as committed to me
by Gen Khin Nyunt, two meetings had taken place. And there had
been a reasonable operation on the part of the Slorc to go after
the narcotics traffic and after Khun Sa.
However I feel to get a commitment from strip in the following
areas and that is why I believe there has been retrenchment:
1. There's no commitment to resume a dialogue with Aung San Suu
Kyi. It is my view that she will not be release by July 19, the
six year of her anniversary.
2. There have been since the first of the year of more arbitrary
detainings, well arbitrary detentions.
3. And third, as I said before, we fail to get a commitment that
the Red Cross be permitted to inspect prisons, I believe that
this is to get a cause the Red cross to leave the country.
Constructive engagement is not working. We need multilateral
policy of Aggressive Engagement in Burma. As millions of Dollars
of foreign investment fall into Burma without any
constructive pressure and dialogue on human rights, the causes
of democracy in Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi's release are
forgotten, and that's not right.
Here is what I think we should do. This is just one
recommendation from a member of congress from a central state in
Burma. I believe the July 19 should be the date by which Asean
countries, the United Nations and the international community
and the United States set a new more aggressive and creative
policy towards Burma. July 19 is the sixth anniversary of Aung
San Suu Kyi's detainment. If she is not unconditionally released
by that day, as I said before, a new and creative policy toward
Burma is needed. In the meantime, in consistent with what I said,
I propose the following. We need a multilateral approach towards
Burma. Not bilateral policies by individual countries.
I am proposing a policy called the group of friends of policy, a
contact group, Similar to the one that took place in Namibia.
Similar to one that exists in Yugoslavia today hopefully with
better results. Such a contact group will provide a road map of
carrots and stick It would provide economic development,
financing, in exchange for democratic decisions measures. The
following countries, I would suggest, might be included;
Australia, South Korea, the Philippines, India , Thailand, Japan,
Malaysia, and Burma constituting this group of friends; with
United States, the United Kingdom and France as observers or
guests. With the world bank, United Nations, the Asia Development
Bank and the IMF as the guarantors of this process.
This is step no. one : I have discussed this Contact Group idea
with the countries I had just mentioned with their ambassadors in
Burma. Most of them positive but they cannot confirm that this
would something that they would presume. Hopefully this would be
discussed in the day ahead. I also discussed this contact group
idea with the SLORC.
Step no. two; I would hope that there would be also a voluntary
multinational code of conduct towards Burma. Not mandatory, but
corporations doing businesses in Burma adopt voluntary code of
conduct in the areas of labour rights, human rights. Investments
falling into Burma, I would not say that we should cut the
investments off. I am saying that foreign investors from
countries in ASEAN and the United States, I believe have the
responsibilities to speak up for human rights and push towards
the democratization process.
Thirdly, I suggest that the issue of democracy in Burma be put on
the agenda of the next ASEAN meeting which would take place in
Brunei. I understand that SLORC would be there as a guest . It's
important the SLORC be engaged . It makes no sense to exclude
them from that meeting. But it's important that the issue of
democracy in Burma be placed on the agenda. I believe that the
world need to focus more attention on Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi's
cause and Burma's democracy should have a higher priority than
they currently have.
Why is it that we seem to forget Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi. Is
it because Aung San Suu Kyi is a woman ? Is it because she is
from a small Asian country that is not strategically important?
Why can't she get the attention that Nelson Mandella got and his
struggle? Let me say that US policy. I am proud that my country
has human rights component in its Burma policy. But I could hope
that on July 19, that the United States too along with ASEAN
countries and others evaluates what constructive policy might
take place should she not be released. I would hope that my
country considers this contact group of friend's idea and
encourages this code of conduct at least without cooperation.
I would tell what is happening in the US Congress. There are a
number of initiatives that most likely would pass that contain
trade and investment embargo towards Burma. There are already a
number of measure that are in bill that are likely going to pass
such as cut off UNDP operations in Burma. I think that's a bad
idea. I think UNDP provides assistance to poor people,
education, health , economic development should not be cut .
Of course, it should not be penalized for the actions of the
Government. But I believe that this may become a good point .
These cuts are not happening but are moving forward. And I
believe that trade and investment embargo would not work unless
they are done multilateral. And I am not supporting at this time
the trade and investment embargo, I might on July 19. I think we
have to give SLORC a chance to respond. I hope I am wrong. Let
me conclude by saying that I do believe that there are moderate
elements within the SLORC leadership. I believe that those
moderate elements are being shut out by hard liners who want to
retrench. I hope those moderates like Gen. Khin Nyunt can
reserve us again. Today I am going to conclude with my brief
statement about my visit to the camps. Today I visited Karen camp
at the Thai-Burma border by the name of Hway Ka lok. Although my
visit was brief. I came away with the strong sense of the
suffering endured by the people displaced from their homeland for
so long. Their desire for peaceful settlement to the conflict
that throw out them to Thailand . I was also impressed by relief
efforts in the camps. I like to express my appreciation and my
Governments's appreciation to the Royal Thai Government for
providing sanctuary to 90,000 displaced Burmese in Thailand, a
continuation of Thailand's humanitarian policy towards refugees
and displaced persons extending some twenty years now. I
recognize the burden placed on Thailand by providing temporary
refuge to so many for so long, and hope someday soon they will
all be able to return to their homes in safety and dignity with
international assistance and monitoring.
Note: Richardson visited Rangoon in Feb. last year. He met Khin
Nyunt as well as Aung San Suu Kyi, in an attempt to persuade the
two sides to open a dialogue.
Typed by the Research Department of ABSDF(MTZ)