Minister of State Lenihan launches Reports on Burma
EMBARGO: 18.00 – 28/06/06
Mr. Conor Lenihan T.D., Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, today launched two reports by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma. The publication of the two reports entitled “The Darkness We See” and “Eight Seconds of Silence” was funded by Irish Aid in association with Burma Action Ireland.
The reports, which are the work of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, concern torture in Burma's interrogation centres and prisons and detail the deaths of democracy activists behind bars.
Minister of State Lenihan, speaking at the launch of the reports, said “Clearly the reports make grim reading and are a reminder to us all that we must redouble our efforts to highlight the situation in Burma and work for change there. He noted that Ireland takes a consistently strong position on Burma and avails of all opportunities to call for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, to condemn the abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms and deplore the lack of progress towards democracy in Burma.”
Addressing invited guests, including members of Burma Action Ireland, the Minister stated that “the Irish Government will continue to raise concerns about Burma on all possible occasions and to call on the Burmese government to assume its responsibilities towards its people and to allow the fullest possible UN involvement in a genuine process of democratisation and reconciliation.”
Among those attending the event was Ko Bo Kyi from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma which compiled the reports and who was visiting Ireland especially for the launch.
Note for editors:
The full title of the two reports launched today are: “The Darkness We See: Torture in Burma's Interrogation Centers and Prisons” and “Eight Seconds of Silence: The Death of Democracy Activists Behind Bars”. The reports were compiled by the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma). Publication of the reports was funded by Irish Aid in association with Burma Action Ireland.
Irish Aid has provided funding of almost €1m in 2005 and over €800,000 in 2004 to a number of projects benefiting the Burmese people. This includes support under Irish Aid's Schemes for Human Rights and Democratisation, NGO Co-Financing and HIV/AIDS. In 2005 Ireland contributed €500,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross towards humanitarian assistance in Burma following the tsunami.
Aung San Suu Kyi spent her 61st birthday under house arrest on 19 June. As of 28 June 2006 she has spent a total of 10 years and 247 days under house arrest. During his recent visit to Burma from 18-20 May, UN Under-Secretary-General Gambari visited Aung San Suu Kyi. The visit by Mr. Gambari was the first high-level visit to that country by a UN representative in more than two years.
The EU applies a range of sanctions and restrictive measures against Burma, referred to as the EU Common Position, which had been due to expire on 30 April but which has been renewed for a further year. In the absence of any significant progress in Burma, Ireland strongly supported the renewal.
28 June 2006