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Global sanctions for Burma over Suu Kyi trial

Global sanctions for Burma over Suu Kyi trial article image

Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith has added his voice to the global concern for Aung San Suu Kyi, who went to trial this week for breaching her house arrest after an American man swam to her lakeside home earlier this month. Smith reiterated his call to release Suu Kyi, restricted to her home prison by the ruling junta after they refused to accept the victory of her National League for Democracy in Burma's last election in 1990. "The Australian Embassy in Rangoon has conveyed Australia's grave concerns over these developments to the Burmese authorities, and is monitoring the case closely," said Smith. "The Australian government has long called for her immediate and unconditional release and I repeat that call today." If Suu Kyi is found guilty of breaching the house arrest, it could see her barred from standing in next year's election. Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop urged the Rudd government to leverage their Asian relationships: "The Rudd government must do all it can to urge the ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] member countries and those nations with closer relations to Burma to pressure the junta into releasing Suu Kyi." With the exception of Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and The Philippines, other members of ASEAN have been silent on issue. Burma is a member of ASEAN. European ministers are currently in discussions about new sanctions against Burma due to this incident but admitted that previous sanctions by Europe and the USA cannot work while China and India continue to trade with Burma. "I don't think additional sanctions will help," said EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. "We have to reinforce dialogue with Burma's neighbours. I think that is the way forward. It should always be a subject of discussion with China, India and others."

 

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