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Thursday, 21 June 2007 - Strasbourg

European Parliament resolution of 21 June 2007 on Burma

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the first formal session of the UN Security Council on Burma held on 29 September 2006,

–   having regard to the statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of 25 May 2007 calling for 'restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political figures' to be lifted,

–   having regard to the 12th ASEAN Summit held in the Philippines on 9-15 January 2007,

–   having regard to the eighth ASEM Foreign Ministers" meeting held in Germany on 28-29 May 2007,

–   having regard to the letter of 15 May 2007 to General Than Shwe, signed by 59 former Heads of State, calling for 'the immediate release of the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi',

–   having regard to its resolutions of 12 May 2005(1), 17 November 2005(2) and 14 December 2006(3) on Burma,

–   having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 481/2007 of 27 April 2007(4) renewing restrictive measures against Burma,

–   having regard to the 17th anniversary of the victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the parliamentary elections of 27 May 1990,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the NDL leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Sakharov Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has spent 11 of the last 17 years under house arrest,

B.   whereas on 25 May 2007 the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) extended the illegal detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for another year,

C.   whereas the SPDC continues to subject the people of Burma to appalling human rights abuses, such as forced labour, persecution of dissidents, conscription of child soldiers and forced relocation,

D.   whereas 30% of Burma's population, an estimated 15 million people, are subsisting below the poverty line,

E.   whereas the National Convention – first convened in 1993 to draft a constitution but suspended many times since then – will resume on 18 July 2007 for a final session but lacks legitimacy and international credibility due to the absence of democratically elected representatives, most notably from the NLD,

F.   whereas ASEAN has started to take a more robust stance against the abuses by the military regime in Burma and insists that Burma improve its human rights record and embrace democracy,

G.   whereas on 15 May 2007 Russia and Burma concluded an agreement to build a nuclear research reactor in Burma, despite international concerns about safety standards, security and dual use,

1.  Demands the immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi;

2.  Deplores the fact that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has suffered years of house arrest, including solitary confinement and, since 2003, has only been allowed to leave for urgent medical treatment and briefly to meet the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs;

3.  Condemns the SPDC's unremitting oppression of the Burmese people and its persistent persecution and imprisonment of pro-democracy activists; draws particular attention to the case of U Win Tin, a 78-year old journalist detained as a political prisoner for almost two decades now for writing a letter to the UN on the ill-treatment of political prisoners and the poor conditions in which they are held;

4.  Insists on the immediate release of U Win Tin and all political prisoners – estimated to number over 1 200 – held by the SPDC;

5.  Deplores the fact that, despite the condition of the country, regional and international criticism and forty-five years of rule, the SPDC has failed to make any substantial progress towards democracy;

6.  Urges the legitimisation of the National Convention, through inclusion of the NLD and other political parties and groups, and that the National Convention adopt a roadmap to democracy that reflects the genuine wishes of the Burmese people instead of consolidating the military's stranglehold on power;

7.  Welcomes the Chairman's statement made at the 12th ASEAN Summit, in which ASEAN leaders encouraged Burma 'to make greater progress towards national reconciliation', called 'for the release of those placed under detention and for effective dialogue with all parties concerned' and agreed 'on the need to preserve ASEAN's credibility as an effective regional organisation by demonstrating a capacity to manage important issues within the region';

8.  Regrets, however, that the 2006 fact-finding mission to Burma by the Malaysian Foreign Minister, mandated by the 11th ASEAN Summit, has not yet resulted in more robust measures against the military junta in Burma and trusts that these will be forthcoming;

9.  Urges the Council and the Commission to continue their constructive relationship with ASEAN countries and to ensure that the EU-ASEAN free trade negotiations are used as a vehicle to increase pressure on the SPDC to establish a civilian and democratic government;

10.  Regrets that the Burmese Foreign Minister, Nyan Win, was permitted to attend the eighth ASEM Foreign Ministers" meeting in Germany this year, only days after the military junta in Burma had extended the illegal house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for another year; recalls that Nyan Win is on the list of Burmese individuals subject to the EU travel ban and calls on the EU Member States to implement the EU travel ban more rigorously;

11.  Insists that the International Atomic Energy Agency subject any nuclear research reactor in Burma to comprehensive safeguards, in order to ensure that any civilian nuclear programmes are not diverted to military purposes, and calls on the Burmese regime to fulfil its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty;

12.  Urges China and India to use their considerable economic and political leverage with the Burmese regime to bring about substantial improvements in that country and, in any case, to cease the supply of weaponry and other strategic resources;

13.  Calls on businesses which invest in Burma to ensure that their projects are carried out in a manner which respects genuine human rights and, if human rights abuses do occur, to suspend their activities in Burma; expresses disappointment that some countries have seen fit to increase substantially their investments in Burma, regardless of the dire human rights situation there;

14.  Welcomes the renewal of EU targeted sanctions but recognises that they have failed to achieve the desired impact on those directly responsible for the suffering of the Burmese people; calls on the Council to ensure that all Member States rigorously apply existing restrictive measures;

15.  Calls on the Council to expand the scope of the sanctions and to enlarge the list of those targeted, so that it includes all SPDC ministers, deputies, members, supporters and workers, in addition to their family members, and businessmen and other prominent individuals associated with the regime;

16.  Notes that, in accordance with the Council Common Position 2006/318/CFSP of 27 April 2006(5) renewing restrictive measures against Burma, support is limited to humanitarian aid and assistance for those most in need; insists that all aid destined for Burma must be delivered through genuine NGOs and must reach the people for whom it is intended, with the least possible involvement of the SPDC;

17.  Suggests in this context that all possible efforts be made to enhance contacts and to design programmes focusing on Burmese civil society, notably women's groups and ethnic minorities;

18.  Regrets that China and Russia, supported by South Africa, vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution on Burma on 12 January 2007 and calls on the UN Security Council to redouble efforts to obtain unanimous backing for a binding resolution requiring the release of political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi;

19.  Welcomes the appointment of Ibrahim Gambari as Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Burma, which comes at a critical juncture in the UN's approach to Burma, and calls on the SPDC to fully cooperate with the UN and not to obstruct its work;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the governments of the ASEAN nations, the National League for Democracy of Burma, the State Peace and Development Council of Burma, the Government of the People's Republic of China, the Government of India, the Government of Russia, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) OJ C 92 E, 20.4.2006, p. 410.
(2) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p. 473.
(3) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0607.
(4) OJ L 111, 28.4.2007, p. 50.
(5) OJ L 116, 29.4.2006, p. 77.

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