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British Labour Party supports Burma
- Subject: British Labour Party supports Burma
- From: omtun@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 08 Oct 1996 16:21:00
Subject: British Labour Party supports Burma's democracy
A Report from London.
By Oung Myint Tun
In recent weeks Mr. Tony Blair, the Leader of the Labour Party, who
has been widely tipped as the potential new Prime Minister after
the general election in 1997, sent a letter of support and invitation
to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for
Democracy and the Burmese Democracy movement, to address the
British Labour Party Conference as a " International guest".
Aung San Suu Kyi
National League for Democracy August 1, 1996
Dear Aung San Suu Kyi
I am writing to invite you to attend the Labour Party's Annual
Conference in October as our "International Guest". The Party
conference will be held in Blackpool and and runs from Monday
September 30 until Friday October 4.
Each year the Party invites a leading figure to address the
Conference. Recent speakers have included Thabo Mbeki,
Ingvar Carlsson and Gro Harlem Brundtland. While I appreciate
the difficulties that you may have in leaving Burma, we
would be greatly honoured if you were able to attend.
The Labour Party has been a consistent supporter of the
Burmese democracy movement. And we have been deeply
impressed by your own personal role as the leader of that
movement. Your courage and dignity have been an inspiration
to democrats everywhere.
Labour condemns the Burmese government for its abuse of
human rights and for disregarding the results of nation-wide
elections in 1990-election that were won convincingly by
the National League for Deocracy. We call on the Law and
Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to end the violation of
human rights and to lift the ban on free political activity.
We hope that growing international opposition to the
Burmese regime will strengthen your position and bring
an early restoration of democratic government. I do hope
that you are able to attend our conference and I Look
forward to hearing from you.
Signed Tony Blair
Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP
The above mentioned was Mr. Blair's letter of support and
invitation to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It was understood that
in her written reply to Mr. Blair, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
explained the reasons for her inability to accept the invitation
to speak at the Conference and conveyed to Mr. Blair her deep
appreciation for the efforts made by the Labour Party in
support of the struggle for democracy in Burma.
During the Labour Party Conference, which co-incided with
the latest brutal suppression of democracy in Burma, the NLD
(Liberated Area-Burma) issued the followling press statement
drawing the attention of the British public in general and the
Labour Party Conference leaders and delegates in particular:
" Right at this moment, while the Labour Party delgates are
holding the Conference without any restrictions and the British
people are enjoying democratic rights freely, the democratic
struggle in Burma is yet again facing a new wave of arrests
and represion. In order to block and obstruct the National League
for Democracy's Conference to be convened from September
27 to 29, the military junta detained about eight hundred activists
and delegates. There were 16 NLD elected representatives among
them. About three hundred soldiers surrounded the vicinity of
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's house and blocked all public access to
her house where the Conference has been arranged to convene.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's movement was also restricted and usual
week-end meetings at the entrance of her house were also
suppressed. The brutal action of the illegal military regime is
in fact a repeat of their actions in last May when they also had
tried to prevent the meetings of the Central Council of the NLD.
We strongly condemn the unlawful, undemocratic and unjust
actions of the military regime in Burma who call themselves
the "State Law and Order Restoration Council" (SLORC). We
strongly urge the Labour Party and British people to carry on
supporting our movement and put more and more pressure on
the Burmese brutal regime to hand over power to the legitimate
winners of the people's mandate and cease violations of human
rights and respect the liberty and freedom of the people of Burma."
My report on Burma and British Labour Party can not end there
without mentioning the following important information. The Leader
of Opposition and British Labour Party Tony Blair addressed
the Conference on October 1. His rousing, evangelical Keynote speech
was embraced by the Party faithful with full enthusism and admiration
and hailed by the British media as one of the most outstanding conference
speeches. He spelled out a new "Age of Achievement" for Britain.
Tony Blair, giving a prominent spot to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma
in this well praised speech, said:
"Let me also give apologies for one absentee.The NEC( Labour Party
National Executive Sommittee) invited Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma
to be our guest here this week. For reasons that everyone will understand,
she cannot be with us. Let me invite her to come next year, a free citizen
and an example to democrats all over the world."
The Labour Party Conference went on to conduct a few more things
in support of Burmese democracy movement on Thursday October 3.
Its NEC submitted the following resolutions to the Conference:
" Conference salutes the immense courage and determination of
Aung San Suu Kyi, Leader of the National League for Democracy of
Burma. We applaud her commitment to democracy. We very much
regret that the attitude of the authorities in Burma have prevented
her from being able to take up the invitation from the Labour Party
to come to Blackpool and address our conference as a fraternal
"Conference unreservedly condemns the abuse of human rights and the
denial of democratic freedoms by the State Law and Order Committee
(SLORC) in Burma. We are extremely concerned at the recent
deterioration in the situation with further arrests and increased
repression. We further deplore the activities of SLORC in their
attempts to isolate, intimidate and harass Aung San Suu Kyi and
supporters. We call on the military junta to release all political
prisoners, to end the ban on political parties and to respect the
results of the 1990 general election. We call on the present rulers
of Burma to return the country to peaceful, democratic civilian rule.
And we urge the British government to exert whatever pressure it
can in order to bring about an end to the repression and the restoration
of full human and political rights."
Labour Party Shadow Overseas Development Minister Miss. Clare Short,
just before the above resolutions were put to vote by the delegates,
spoke in support of the resolutions as under:
"Conference, we obviously recommend that you support the NEC
statement on Burma, in order to express our solidarity and
admiration for Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese democracy
Labour Party Foreign Affairs spokeperson Derek Fatchett M.P.
and European Member of Parliament Glenys Kinnock also spoke
in support of Burma's cause during the Conference.
The above mentioned NEC resolutions were voted on and passed
unanimously by the British Labour Party Conference on Thursday
The British Labour Party has had a very successful conference in
Blackpool this year. We, the campaigners for the restoration of
democracy and human rights in Burma, have also achieved a
tremendous victory at the same Conference.
I attended the Conference as an observer from the beginning-
September 30 to the end -October 4.