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from: Paul Hitchfield, tel.  06-452-2455, fax.  06-452-1995

8 December 1996


 A group of about ten activists from four countries (including
Burma/Myanmar and Japan) and a variety of groups, including the Burmese
Relief Center--Japan and Amnesty International (Kobe and Osaka members),
held a protest in the Hankyu Sannomiya Station area of Kobe in the early
afternoon of Sunday, December 8.  Their purpose was to celebrate
International Human Rights Day, which is coming up on December 10, and to
highlight the ongoing human rights abuses occurring in Burma/Myanmar.  It
was hoped that public awareness of the situation in that nation would be
raised.  Some of the activists have participated in a similar protest every
year since 1990.

Though Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from
house arrest last year she is not being allowed freedom of movement or
action and her physical safety is threatened. Many members of her National
League for Democracy have been arbitrarily arrested or seriously harassed.
The NLD was the overwhelming winner of elections held in 1990 but were
prevented from taking power by the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC) of the military junta.  There are many prisoners of conscience in
Burma/Myanmar.  There is torture, extra-judicial executions and forced
labour.  Some of the forced labour is being used on projects related to the
tourist industry.  We are in what the junta describes as "Visit Myanmar

The Kobe activists called for a boycott of Visit Myanmar Year.  They
expressed concern for Aung San Suu Kyi's safety and passed out flyers
explaining the situation in both English and Japanese. They called for a
halt to commercial links until SLORC halts its human rights violations and
allows for the establishment of democracy.  Unless things change radically
the protesters will be back again next year calling for justice.