Minister for Foreign Affairs Expresses His Concern for Protesters in Burma/Myanmar
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern T.D., expressed his grave concern at news that the Burmese military have today used physical force and tear-gas to break up the peaceful demonstrations against the government led by Buddhist monks over recent days and arrested many monks and others. The Minister condemned these actions in the strongest terms and described them as unacceptable and deeply shocking.
"I am gravely concerned by news from Burma/Myanmar this morning that, in addition to the imposition of curfews, the Burmese military regime have today deployed troops onto the streets of Rangoon, who have used batons and tear-gas to break up peaceful demonstrations led by Buddhist monks, and that hundreds of monks and others have been arrested. The use of physical force by the military against monks, nuns and unarmed civilians, who have committed their lives to the path of non-violence, and who are simply exercising the basic right of freedom of expression in a peaceful manner, is unacceptable and deeply shocking. All people of conscience throughout the world and all countries, in particular China and India, who have influence with the Burmese military regime, must condemn the use of force against unarmed civilians, demonstrating peacefully and demand the utmost restraint.
Ireland, like the EU, expresses its solidarity with the people of Burma/Myanmar and its admiration for the courageous monks, nuns and other citizens who are exercising their rights of peaceful demonstration.
Burma/Myanmar is at a crossroads. The scale of the demonstrations, led by thousands of Buddhist monks and tens of thousands of ordinary people, is unprecedented. They can leave no room for doubt that, above all else, the Burmese people want rapid, peaceful, political change and genuine, inclusive, national dialogue and reconciliation. The Burmese authorities have an opportunity to respond constructively to the will of the people – so clearly and bravely expressed on streets throughout the country, and to engage meaningfully with the democratic opposition and ethnic groups in open and inclusive dialogue.
The international community has a vital role to play in promoting the path of restraint and reconciliation. At this stage, there is still time to step back from the brink, but we must act immediately and decisively. I believe that the time is right for the Security Council to immediately seize itself of the issue, and I support today’s call to this effect by the British Prime Minister.
At a meeting yesterday with the Chairperson and representatives of Burma Action Ireland, I made clear Ireland’s firm intention to continue to work with all partners, including within the EU and the UN, and with those countries which wield some influence with the Burmese regime, to encourage positive developments in Burma/Myanmar."
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