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British Labour Party supports Burma

Subject: British Labour Party supports Burma's democracy

A Report from London.
By Oung Myint Tun

In recent weeks Mr. Tony Blair, the Leader of the Labour Party, who
has been widely tipped as the potential new Prime Minister after 
the general election in 1997, sent a letter of support and invitation
to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for 
Democracy and the Burmese Democracy movement, to address the 
British Labour  Party Conference as a " International guest".

He wrote:

Aung San Suu Kyi
National League for Democracy                          August 1, 1996

Dear Aung San Suu Kyi

I am writing to invite you to attend the Labour Party's Annual 
Conference in October as our  "International Guest". The Party 
conference will be held in Blackpool and and runs from Monday 
September 30 until Friday October 4.

Each year the Party invites a leading figure to address the
Conference. Recent speakers have included Thabo Mbeki, 
Ingvar Carlsson and Gro Harlem Brundtland. While I appreciate 
the difficulties that you may have in leaving Burma, we
would be greatly honoured if you were able to attend.

The Labour Party has been a consistent supporter of the 
Burmese democracy movement. And we have been deeply 
impressed by your own personal role as the leader of that 
movement. Your courage and dignity have been an inspiration 
to democrats everywhere.

Labour condemns the Burmese government for its abuse of
human rights and for disregarding the results of nation-wide 
elections in 1990-election that were won convincingly by 
the National League for Deocracy. We call on the Law and 
Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to end the violation of  
human rights and to lift the ban on free political activity.

We hope that growing international opposition to the 
Burmese regime will strengthen your position and bring 
an early  restoration of democratic government. I do hope 
that you are able to attend our conference and I Look 
forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely

Signed Tony Blair
Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP

The above mentioned was Mr. Blair's letter of support and
invitation to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It was understood that 
in her written reply to Mr. Blair, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
explained the reasons for her inability to accept the invitation 
to speak at the Conference and conveyed to Mr. Blair her deep 
appreciation for the efforts made by the Labour Party in
support of the struggle for democracy in Burma.

During the Labour Party Conference, which co-incided with
the latest brutal suppression of democracy in Burma, the NLD
(Liberated Area-Burma) issued the followling press statement 
drawing the attention of the British public in general and the 
Labour Party Conference leaders and delegates in particular:

" Right at this moment, while the Labour Party delgates are 
holding the Conference without any restrictions and the British 
people are enjoying democratic rights freely, the democratic 
struggle in Burma is yet again facing a new wave of arrests 
and represion. In order to block and obstruct the National League 
for Democracy's Conference to be convened from September
27 to 29, the military junta detained about eight hundred activists 
and delegates. There were 16 NLD elected representatives among
them. About three hundred soldiers surrounded the vicinity of 
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's house and blocked all public access to
her house where the  Conference has been arranged to convene.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's movement was also restricted and usual
week-end meetings at the entrance of her house were also
suppressed. The brutal action of the illegal military regime is 
in fact a repeat of their actions in last May when they also had
tried  to prevent  the meetings of the Central Council of the NLD.

We strongly condemn the unlawful, undemocratic and unjust 
actions of the military regime in Burma who call themselves 
the "State Law and Order Restoration Council" (SLORC). We 
strongly urge the Labour Party and British people to carry on 
supporting our movement and put more and more pressure on 
the Burmese brutal regime to hand over power to the legitimate
winners of the people's mandate and cease violations of human
 rights and respect the liberty and freedom of the people of Burma."

My report on Burma and British Labour Party can not end there 
without mentioning the following important information. The Leader 
of Opposition and British Labour Party Tony Blair addressed
the Conference on October 1. His rousing, evangelical Keynote speech 
was embraced by the Party faithful with full enthusism and admiration 
and hailed by the British media as one of the most outstanding conference 
speeches. He spelled out a new "Age of Achievement" for Britain. 
Tony Blair, giving a prominent spot to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma 
in this well praised speech, said:  
 "Let me also give apologies for one absentee.The NEC( Labour Party 
National Executive Sommittee) invited Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma 
to be  our guest here this week. For reasons that everyone will understand, 
she cannot be with us. Let me invite her to come next year, a free citizen 
and an example to democrats all over the world."

The Labour Party Conference went on to conduct a few more things 
in support of Burmese democracy movement on Thursday October 3. 
Its NEC submitted the following resolutions to the Conference:

" Conference salutes the immense courage and determination of 
Aung San Suu Kyi, Leader of the National League for Democracy of 
Burma. We applaud her commitment to democracy. We very much 
regret that the attitude of the authorities in Burma have prevented
her from being able to take up the invitation from the Labour Party 
to come to Blackpool and address our conference as a fraternal 
international guest."
"Conference unreservedly condemns the abuse of human rights and the 
denial of democratic freedoms by the State Law and Order Committee
(SLORC) in Burma. We are extremely concerned at the recent
deterioration in the situation with further arrests and increased 
repression. We further deplore the activities of SLORC in their
attempts to isolate, intimidate and harass Aung San Suu Kyi and
supporters. We call on the military junta to release all political
prisoners, to end the ban on political parties and to respect the
results of the 1990 general election. We call on the present rulers
of Burma to return the country  to peaceful, democratic civilian rule.
And we urge the British government to exert whatever pressure it 
can in order to bring about an end to the repression and the restoration
of full human and political rights."

Labour Party Shadow Overseas Development Minister Miss. Clare Short,
just before the above resolutions were put to vote by the delegates, 
spoke in support of the resolutions as under:
"Conference, we obviously recommend that you support the NEC
statement on Burma, in order to express our solidarity and 
admiration for Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese democracy

Labour Party Foreign Affairs spokeperson Derek Fatchett M.P.
and European Member of Parliament Glenys Kinnock also spoke
in support of Burma's cause during the Conference.

The above mentioned NEC resolutions were voted on and passed
unanimously by the British Labour Party Conference on Thursday 
October 3. 

The British Labour Party has had a very successful conference in
Blackpool this year. We, the campaigners for the  restoration of 
democracy and human rights in Burma, have also achieved a 
tremendous victory at the same Conference.

I attended the Conference as an observer from the beginning- 
September 30 to the end -October 4.