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(The Advertiser is a local newspaper for South Australia)


The government is also greatly to be applauded for its decision to make the
Burmese Opposition Leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi a
Companion of the Order of Australia. It was a bold symbolic gesture at the
right time since the deeply repellent military junta in Rangoon is engaged
in another crackdown on the eve of a weekend congress by prodemocracy

The award was accompanied by a blunt message from the Foreign Minister, Mr
Downer, accusing the junta of arbitrary and intimidatory action in trying
to stop the congress. It was the latest in a series of pleasant suprises
for those who believed that the Coalition would be softer on human rights
issues than previous Labor governments.

Mr Downer earlier had given an undertaking to meet the Dalai Lama when the
Tibetan leader visits Australia in September. It is true he has also noted
that, since 1972, Australian government have implicitly recognized Tibet as
art of the People's Republic of China. This, however, is unlikely to
diminish the wrath of Beijing which has an international policy of bluster
and bullying over the Dalai Lama because it fears him as the legitimate
representative of a people oppressed or forced into exile as well as a
spritual and cultural leader. The mere announcement of teh intended meeting
produced an immediate dire warning of damage to bilateral relations. It
would be agreeable and the best response to that if, as well as Mr Downer,
the Prime Minister also meet the Dalai Lama.

Looked at together and with other foreign policy initiatives, it seems the
Howard Government is making a conscentious efforts to pull off the
difficult balancing act of recongising political and trade realities while
showing real concern for democracy and human rights, the same concern felt
by millions of ordinary Australians.

Perhaps the Government should be more outspoken on the subject of
Indonesia and East Timor but, for these well-thought-out gesture, some

WORLD WATCH: 217 Arrested in junta bid to thwart Suu Kyi

Rangoon: Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said last night 217 of
her supporters had been arrested by the military government.
        Ms Suu Kyi said the government was continuing to arrest members of
her national league for democracy in a bid to scuttle a key meeting this
weekend seen as an opposition move to take centre stage.
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