Written answers

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Department of Foreign Affairs

Human Rights Issues

5:00 pm

Photo of Ciarán CuffeCiarán Cuffe (Dún Laoghaire, Green Party)
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Question 37: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, since making his speech to the UN which addressed human rights abuses in Burma, he has approached authorities in China, Thailand or others of Burma's neighbours to raise the issue; their responses to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27054/05]

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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Question 44: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the situation in Burma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26947/05]

Photo of Dinny McGinleyDinny McGinley (Donegal South West, Fine Gael)
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Question 66: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has made recent representations to the Burmese authorities regarding the continued detention of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26881/05]

Photo of Willie PenroseWillie Penrose (Westmeath, Labour)
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Question 104: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the deteriorating situation in relation to human rights in Burma and the action he proposes to take. [26856/05]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 37, 44, 66 and 104 together.

The Government has consistently highlighted the abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Burma and condemned the lack of progress towards democracy. The continuing house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, other opposition activists and a number of MPs elected in 1990 remains of grave concern to Ireland and our EU partners.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, representing Ireland at the opening session of the Asia-Europe Meeting, ASEM, of foreign ministers on 6 May 2005 in Kyoto, Japan, expressed Ireland's grave disappointment and concern that the Burmese authorities had failed to create the conditions for political parties to participate in the national convention, now in recess. He also urged the Burmese authorities to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners. European and Asian foreign ministers participating in the meeting collectively expressed to the Burmese Foreign Minister their concern at the situation in Burma and expressed the hope that all restrictions on the democratisation process would be lifted at the earliest possible opportunity.

On 7 May 2005, the EU Troika of foreign ministers met the Burmese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. U Nyan Win, in the margins of the ASEM meeting and expressed similar concerns about the situation in Burma. The EU Troika called on the Burmese authorities to enter into a constructive dialogue with the opposition National League for Democracy, NLD, other legitimate representative bodies and ethnic groups. The EU Troika also called for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners. The Troika further appealed to the Burmese authorities to establish permanent and sincere co-operation with the UN Secretary General's special envoy in Burma, Mr. Razali Ismail, the special rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Burma, Mr. Sergio Pinheiro, and with all relevant UN agencies. The Burmese Foreign Minister undertook to consider the demands expressed by the EU, but I regret that in the period since then there has been no progress.

In my statement on behalf of Ireland at the 60th Session of the UN General Assembly on 19 September, I referred to the continuing denial of human rights and democracy in Burma. I stated that this was most acutely symbolised by the continued detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and that her ordeal was not forgotten by the people of Ireland. I pointed out that the cumulative length of her detention is now very close to ten years.

While in the short period since then I have not had the opportunity to raise these issues again with Burma's neighbouring countries as has been suggested, I assure the Deputies that I will avail of all opportunities to raise and to repeat our long-standing concerns in the period ahead. The Government's continuing goal and that of the EU remains the release and restoration of liberty to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, the return of democracy to Burma, an end to human rights violations there and the realisation of peace and prosperity for the long-suffering people of Burma.

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