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Australia Burma Council

Address to the
Committee for Democracy in Burma Dinner

9th Anniversary of multiparty general elections in Burma

by Amanda Zappia, NCGUB, FTUB, ABC
29th May 1999

The Hon. Justice Marcus Einfeld A. O., Senator Tierney, Reverend Bill 
Crews, Mr Desmond Than Naing, Honored. Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please accept my sincere apologies for not being with you tonight.  It was 
a great honor to be invited to attend this important annual event and to be 
included with guest speakers all of whom are held in such high esteem. My 
congratulations and appreciation go to all members of CDB for their ongoing 
commitment to the people of Burma and the restoration of human rights and 
democracy in the country.

I will side track for a moment and say that when I heard The Hon. Marcus 
Einfeld was speaking I thought perhaps God was smiling down on me by 
rendering me unfit to travel.  A breathtakingly brilliant speech by the 
Hon. Justice Marcus Einfeld is an event that no body in their right mind 
would want to follow.   Thank you Marcus for your continuing commitment to 
our cause and a belated congratulation on being awarded the AO by the 
Australian Government.  This, I would say, is an honor well earned and long 

You are all gathered here to celebrate the landslide victory of the NLD at 
the 1990 general elections in Burma.  By winning 82% of the seats the NLD 
proved that in all corners of Burma, in every village and township, in army 
constituencies and in many non-Burman ethnic areas, people considered the 
NLD to be the most appropriate political party to represent them in 
government.  The NLD has been denied the right to do so and after many 
years of frustration they have formed a committee to represent the 
parliament until such time as the military allow a full parliament to be 

Known as CRPP, Committee Representing the Peoples Parliament, the Committee 
has received full recognition from the governments of Canada, Norway, 
Denmark, Belgium and the EU.  Perhaps most significant is the recognition 
given to CRPP by the International Parliamentary Union (IPU).    The IPU is 
a body representing the majority of parliaments in the world and, 
therefore, has a great deal of international authority.  Alas, many 
governments of the world have failed to officially recognise the Committee, 
among them, Australia.

While the Australian community must know that our Foreign Minister, 
Alexander Downer, has worked tirelessly for Burma and he has embarked on 
endless diplomatic missions in a bid to see political and human rights 
reforms in Burma, he has not yet recognised CRPP.
Senator Tierney, we are honoured indeed to have you here tonight 
representing Minister Downer and we thank you for your support and interest 
in Burma.  Would you please take this message to the Minister.  "Minister, 
we are most grateful for your efforts and support to the people of Burma, 
however, we put to you, that if governments such as Australia do not give 
direct political support to the NLD, then the massive task which is theirs, 
will be so much more difficult".  "Please, heed the calls of the NLD".

Reading daily reports of murder, rape, torture and repressive brutality 
initiated by the military of Burma I ask myself, "Why in God's name, does 
the world not respond adequately and why are most countries in the world 
not responding to the humanitarian tragedy that is Burma today"?

I watched an interview the other night with a man who had been in Kosovo 
working for Care Australia and had returned home to Canberra.  Like the 
world over the man was devastated and emotional about what he had 
witnessed.  When asked why the humanitarian crisis had impacted so 
dramatically on experienced aid workers the man responded, "Perhaps it is 
because they look like your grandmother or the lady down the street".  I 
was shocked and bemused.

Meaning no harm, just being honest, this white Australian man alludes to 
what may well be a horrifying reality.  The illusion that the people of 
Asia do not demand or desire the same human rights standards as those of 
the West.  This is absolute rubbish and should be denounced at every 
possible opportunity.  I am telling you nothing when I say that there is no 
such thing as Asian human rights and there is no such thing as Asian 

Every child, man and woman on this earth, regardless of race, colour, creed 
or geographic location has the fundamental right of self respect, 
international protection from butchers, adequate health care, education and 
the right to life.  They should have the right to choose their own 
government and in doing so, their own destiny. It is up to countries like 
Australia to take every possible action until this is the reality, not just 
for Burma, but for all the world's people.

There is no point in condemning governments of the world for their failure 
to act.  There is no point in shifting the blame onto others for it is the 
responsibility of all of us who care about Burma and dedicate our lives to 
the cause to convince our governments to act.  In a democratic society we 
have the right to lobby and we have the right to be heard.  If we are not 
being heard then it is our responsibility to change that.  It is up to all 
of us to create a situation in Australia where the government is convinced 
that our chosen options for Australian Government policy are indeed, what 
the majority of Australians would see as appropriate.

On behalf of the Australia Burma Council, the National Coalition Government 
of the Union of Burma and the Federation of Trades Unions, Burma I thank 
CDB for organising this wonderful dinner and give total commitment that we 
will not rest until the people of Burma live in peace and with full 
democratic rights.

Thank you.

Working on behalf of the:
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB)
Federation of Trade Unions, Burma (FTUB)
Australia Burma Council (ABC)

PO Box 2024, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620
Tel: (612) 6297 7734	Fax: (612) 6297 7773