Myanmar

Minister Lenihan meeting with Burmese opposition leaders; discussions focus on human rights issues

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Mr. Conor Lenihan T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for human rights, met yesterday in Dublin with representatives from the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), Dr. Sein Win and Dr. Thaung Htun.

They briefed the Minister on the situation in Burma and on the work of the NCGUB to promote peaceful political change in that country. Dr. Sein Win also welcomed Irish Aid support for human rights and democratisation in Burma, particularly in support of Burmese refugees in Thailand.

Minister Lenihan expressed the Government's deep concern at the human rights situation in Burma, and particularly expressed his deepest concern at reports of the use of rape as a weapon by the military. The Minister strongly stated Ireland's commitment to supporting political change, peaceful reconciliation and respect for human rights in Burma.

"I am horrified by reports of the use of rape as a weapon by the military regime in their ongoing campaign against civilians in conflict areas. The regime in Burma must immediately put a stop to this utterly reprehensible practice, as well as other serious human rights violations. I remain deeply concerned at the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and would, once again, urge the Burmese government to restore fully her freedom and civil liberties, as well as those of other political prisoners."

Note for Editors:

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) was formed in December 1990 in response to the military regime's refusal to hand over power in the wake of the National League for Democracy's election victory. Led by Dr Sein Win, the NCGUB classifies itself as a government-in-exile. Its founding resolutions seek to:

- Establish a legitimate Government in Burma with the support of elected representatives,

- Establish contacts with the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF), and other revolutionary forces, to seek their assistance in setting up a legitimate Government in the liberated area, and

- Seek diplomatic and other forms of support from the international community.

The two NCGUB representatives were in Ireland at the invitation of Burma Action Ireland (BAI), set up in May 1996 to raise awareness of the situation in Burma.

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