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ASSK: Saturday speech, July 13

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ended her 4:00pm speech on Saturday, July 13 with:

"I was asked to say a few words in English about what we have been discussing
at this meeting today.

"First of all, I answered questions which came up from the people.  There were
different types of questions but there was one very interesting one which came
from the Sagaing Division.  This came with a number of photographs and it is
about forced labor.  It was from a young student in Monywa and he explained
about the forced labor projects in which all the people in his area had to
take part and he sent photographs showing how hard they had to work.  He also
snet a so-called "invitation" to take part in this labor project.  It said
"Invitation" on top.  "Invitation to take part in voluntary work," is what it
said.  But, in fact, in said later that if they failed to turn up they would
be punished.  So you can see that forced labor is quite different from
voluntary labor.  If it were really voluntary, there would be no need to
threaten punishment to those who do not come.  And also, at the end of the
"invitation" there was a little note saying that all these invitations must be
handed in at the voluntary labor camp.  So this means that they were aware of
the fact that it (the invitation) could be used as evidence that there is
forced labor in Burma.

"Those of you who have followed the developments of the ILO (International
Labor Organization) conference some weeks ago will be aware that Burma was
accused of breaking Convention Number 29 which forbids forced labor.  Of
course, the authorities already claim that there is no such thing as forced
labor in Burma.  But I would like to make the point that these very so-called
"invitations" are proof that there is forced labor in Burma and that many of
our people are made to undertake very very difficult work involving much
hardship against their will on pain of punishment should they refuse.  This is
why we protest against forced labor in Burma.

"The rest of my speech concerns Martyrs' Day, which is on the 19th of July.
Some people complain that this year there have been no arrangements to honor
Martyrs' Day.  My point is that we honor our dead leaders not by ceremonies
but by doing what they would have wished us to do.  It is not important that
there should be any formal ceremonies.  What is important is that we should
act in accordance with the principles laid down by the founding fathers of our
nation.  That, in short, is what our meeting was all about.

(end of speech)