Europe is urged to keep pressure up on Burmese junta

By staff writers
October 4, 2007

American congress persons, including Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, are urging European countries to keep up the political and economic pressure on the dictatorship in Burma, following the brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests originally led by Buddhist monks.

Congressman Pitts released a strong statement yesterday, calling on all EU nations to support sanctions against the military junta ruling Burma. Campaigners are preparing for a global day of action on Saturday 6 October 2007, with bloggers today (4 October) joining a "Free Burma" protest.

Congressman Pitts declared: “I understand that the European Union plans to join the United States soon in extending tough economic and political sanctions on Burma. I applaud this move and especially thank French President Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown for leading this effort."

He continued: “We have received reports that hundreds of nonviolent protestors, including Buddhist monks, high school students, women, and everyday civilians, have been horrifically slaughtered by Burma's tyrannical military regime. The brutal SPDC dictatorship needs to be removed so that the people of Burma can live in peace and freedom.

“The European Union should act expediently to cut off all financial, trade, and military relations with Burma, including freezing any bank accounts linked with the SPDC regime, with no exceptions. The call for sanctions on Burma comes from Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the elected representatives of the Burmese people.

“It is no secret that German and Austrian foreign ministry officials previously have blocked tough economic sanctions against Burma's regime. As a result, European funds have bought and paid for the arms being used currently to slaughter the Burmese people in cold blood. Reports now indicate that the military dictatorship is cremating the bodies of dead protestors, and I have received a report that the dictatorship is also cremating those still alive who were injured and then detained by the regime.

He concluded: "It is unfathomable that any country of the EU, particularly Germany, given their own historical experiences, would paralyze the European Union during this time of crisis or block the strongest set of sanctions possible against Burma. If any EU country undermines the sanctions under consideration, those actions will cause irreparable harm to their reputation, increased suffering for the people of Burma, and will damage relationships with other nations.”

Caritas Internationalis, the Federation of Catholic relief and development agencies, has also urged the international community to use its influence with the Myanmar government in pushing for a non-violent resolution of the current situation.

Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, said, “We condemn the violent response to the peaceful demonstration and stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar.”

“The international community should continue its vigilance in witnessing the events occurring in Myanmar at this moment.”

Caritas has welcomed Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call to the authorities to find a peaceful solution to the crisis - and said that China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations could do more to engage with Myanmar.

The UN Security Council must demonstrate its responsibility and commitment to the people of Myanmar and pursue efforts to find peaceful solutions to the crisis, Caritas says.

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