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News release from Shadow Ministe

Subject: RE:News  release  from  Shadow Minister  for  Foreign affairs 

Democratic Voice of Burma (SYDNEY)



55/96									5 December 1996


"The  imposition  of  sanctions  on  the  SLORC  regime  is the next logical 
step if Australia is to give real support to the Burmese democracy movement 
led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi", the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurie 
Brereton, said today following a meeting of the National Security and Trade 
Committee of the Federal Labor Caucus.

"The continuing revelations of abuses of human rights in Burma leave 
absolutely no doubt that the military junta in Rangoon is beyond the pale.  
Nor can one ignore Burma's status as the world's leading producer of heroin 
and opium.  The undeniable barbarity and corruption of the SLORC and its 
continued failure to make progress toward international standards of human 
rights and democratic principles deserve the emphatic condemnation of the 
Australian Government - in word and in deed."

Mr Brereton noted that the former Labor Government had adopted a policy of 
neither encouraging nor discouraging trade with Burma while the actions of the 
SLORC were assessed against a series of human rights benchmarks identified by 
the then Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans, at the 1994 ASEAN Post Ministerial 
Conference.  On 10 July 1995 Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, 
but no significant progress has been made in meeting other benchmarks.  
Instead the SLORC has embarked on a renewed crackdown the Burmese democracy 
movement and Aung San Suu Kyi's movements and actions are now subject to 
increasing constraint.

"In June this year the Australian Senate, in language proposed by Labor, 
called on the Australian government to put the SLORC on notice that economic 
sanctions must be placed on the agenda if civil and political rights are not 
restored in Burma.  Since that time Labor has continued to monitor the 
situation in Burma with growing concern.  Last month's attack on Aung San Suu 
Kyi by supporters of the  military regime and the suppression of renewed 
student protests leave no doubt that the SLORC is unlikely to engage in 
serious dialogue with the democracy movement or take real steps toward the 
restoration of civil and political rights unless it is confronted with 
intensified international pressure."

"The Australian Government has a clear choice - either it can demonstrate 
leadership or do nothing while the situation in Burma deteriorated further."

To this end, the Labor Opposition calls on the Howard Government to -

* suspend the issue of visas for  visits by Burmese officials and other 
persons associated with the SLORC, exceptions should apply only to embassy 
personnel with others being determined case by case by the Minister for 
Foreign Affairs on the basis of Australia's national interest;

* actively discourage Australian citizens from visiting Burma;

* actively discourage Australian trade with Burma, including closure of the 
Austrade office in Rangoon; withdrawal from circulation of the DFAT Country 
Economic Brief on Burma; and active discouragement of Australian companies 
from doing business in Burma and, with the exception of work already in 
progress, a ban on new investment in Burma;

* intensify diplomatic efforts to bring international pressure to bear on the 
SLORC and to work actively against the interests of the SLORC in all 
appropriate international forums: and

* put the SLORC on notice that diplomatic relations will be downgraded in the 
event of  further deterioration of the situation in Burma.

Mr Brereton noted that up until now Foreign Minister Downer and Trade Minister 
Fisher have indicated that the Government is not prepared to impose economic 
sanctions on Burma.

"It may well be the case that unilateral sanctions by Australia will have only 
a limited direct impact on the economic interests of the SLORC, What Mr Downer 
and Mr fischer fail to understand, however, is the powerful political message 
sanctions would  send, not only to the SLORC but to the international 
community - in particular the United States, the European Union and the 
nations of  ASEAN.  This reality is clearly recognized by Aung San Suu Kyi who 
has stated that sanctions can have a positive effect."

"The SLORC, like the south African government at the time of apartheid, must 
be treated as a pariah regime.  Without the sanctions applied to South Africa, 
Nelson Mandela would  still  be in prison.  The question for the Howard 
Government is whether, in the absence of any real movement towards democracy 
in Burma, the SLORC are the sort of people decent Australians should have as 
trading partners.  Now  is  the time for the Howard Government to heed Aung 
San Suu Kyi's call for the imposition of sanctions on the SLORC.  If it does 
not, its professed commitment to human rights and democratic principles will 
be left exposed as little more that empty  rhetoric."

Contact: Philip Dorling (61 - 6 - 277 4717)