Friday, January 25, 2008

UK, US, and French foreign ministers' joint statement on Burma at Davos

This statement is timely and significant. The foreign ministers of the UK, US and France have just issued a joint statement concerning Burma at the World Economic Forum. I have reproduced the statement in its entirety.

The Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos is a unique
event. No other occasion brings together so many of the world’s leaders
from all fields. For over three decades now, these meetings have
provided a global platform for collaboration and action to address
international priorities of concern to us all.

One such priority is the urgent need for progress towards a transition to
democracy and improved human rights in Burma. The fact that we have
chosen to write about this issue, with so many competing priorities,
should underline the strength of our governments’ determination to
support the people of Burma in their pursuit of a peaceful, prosperous
and democratic future. We have repeatedly made clear that the situation
in Burma cannot continue, and that we remain committed to helping the
people of Burma.

It is now more than four months since the world was horrified by the
violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Burma. The dramatic
pictures seen around the world of the brutality directed against peaceful
protestors, including monks and nuns, were truly shocking. We cannot
afford to forget. We must convince the Burmese regime to meet the
demands of the international community and respect the basic rights of
Burma’s people.

The UN Security Council in October spelled out its expectations and
reiterated those expectations on January 17. First, the early release of
all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and the creation of
conditions for a genuine dialogue between the Government and the
opposition. Second, full co-operation and constructive engagement with
the UN. Third, the need for the regime to address the economic,
humanitarian and human rights concerns of the Burmese people.
Several months on, however, we find the regime has met none of these

The regime claims to be moving ahead with its roadmap to civilian rule.
However the process, already 14 years old, is open-ended, and many
key political actors, not least Aung San Suu Kyi, are excluded. There
can be little doubt that only genuine and inclusive dialogue can deliver
national reconciliation and stability for Burma and its neighbours.
We call on all those attending the World Economic Forum to
demonstrate that, while the regime may be indifferent to the suffering of
the Burmese people, the world is not.

We ask you to support the return to Burma by UN Special Adviser
Gambari as soon as possible, and to urge the regime to cooperate fully
with him and the UN. We call on the regime to act on the
recommendations of UN Human Rights Envoy Pinheiro; to release all
political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; and to launch a
substantive, time-bound dialogue with democratic leaders and ethnic
minority representatives, as called for in Aung San Suu Kyi’s statement
of November 8.

A unified call for genuine and peaceful political reconciliation and reform
will be heard in Burma. We would not live up to our values if we ignored
Burma's plight.

Burma and other countries in the region take notice: Europe and America will not let the plight of the Burmese be ignored any longer. That's the message this statement sends.

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