Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Human Rights Issues.
Michael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
I am grateful for the Minister's comprehensive reply and I appreciate he replied to a number of questions. I am also grateful for the consensus that appears to exist in regard to events in Burma.
My question is concentrated specifically on the whereabouts of 4,000 people who were arrested mostly in Rangoon and elsewhere and whom it is widely perceived have been initially detained but possibly moved to the north of the country and to labour camps. It is a specific question. It is urgent that Mr. Pinheiro should have access to the whereabouts of these people. Does the Minister agree that if the European Union is to establish a special relationship, as it were, in regard to the crisis in Burma, it should be strongly driven by human rights considerations and should have the capacity to examine the detention and removal of people and the enforced labour camps?
Does the Minister agree that there is a small window of opportunity between now and the holding of the Olympic Games during which to drive forward a measure for a better set of results? Will he agree, for example, that after 2004 what was called constructive dialogue with the regime in Burma bore little, if any, fruit? For example, China and India, which are quoted now to be positive to such an approach, have expanded their trade to a much greater extent than the level of the sanctions imposed by the European Union curtailing trade.
In regard to the Gambari project, which I understand is political in intention, Mr. Pinheiro will need the fullest access possible to answer the questions I have posed and he is in a position to say that either his office or representatives of the European Union will have access to address the issues I raised?