Apr 06, 2005

UNPO on EU Maintaining Sanctions on Rangoon regime in Burma

The Hague, 06 April 2005-

Burma: Open Letter to the European Commission on the "Independent" Report


Supporting Burma/Myanmar’s National Reconciliation Process: Challenges And Opportunities”, PRESENTED ON THE OCCASION OF THE “BURMA DAY 2005”

Open letter to:

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for the External Relations
Josè Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
And to the Members of the European Parliament

5 April 2005

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner,
President Barroso,

We are disconcerted and worried by the news that the European Commission is currently considering an independent report on Burma recommending that Europe restore diplomatic and economic relations with the Rangoon regime, as well as recommence foreign aid programs.

This “alternative approach” proposed by the report is based on its conclusion that the internal pro-democracy forces have failed to offer an effective response to the regime. Their failure, says the report, has further weakened and reduced the chances of restoring a civilian government in the country; therefore, in their view, the only possible solution lies with a policy of the EU recognising and opening discussions with the junta.

We believe that the “alternative approach” suggested by the Taylor/Pederson report would legitimize and reinforce the military junta, which has committed serious violations of international law and fundamental human rights with total impunity.
Moreover, the European Commission is about to consider an analysis of the internal political situation of the country that does not seem to take into account the opinions and position of the internal opposition, led by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Su Kyi, who remains under house arrest, and of the pro-democracy Burmese movements who have been suffering violent repression for over 15 years.

Once again, we are witnessing the return of a “policy of dialogue” with tyrannical regimes, in the vain hope that it will encourage the start of a democratic process, while we know that this hope is, in fact, groundless. As history has taught us - from Suharto to Milosevic - this “policy of dialogue” can only contribute to the preservation of an anti-democratic, repressive and freedom-less status quo.

We were surprised to learn that the representatives of the National League for Democracy have not been invited to participate in such a consultation; rather, they have been identified as one of the reasons of the disorders, enhancing the administrative control by the Rangoon government and in effectively hindering the birth of political change within the country.
The report, which is accorded so much credibility by the European Commission and is very far away from the position and the decisions made by the European Parliament, appears, then, to be more important than what is denounced by the most reliable international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House. It also contradicts U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s report, which affirms that no security agenda and no drive for development will be successful unless they are based on the protection and promotion of the universal values of the rule of law, human rights and democracy.

We would like to highlight that such an independent report is being discussed during the same days when, at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, the situation of human rights in Burma is sharply criticised and denounced and it is being affirmed that only strong pressure by world democracies can avoid further violence and repression by the cruel Burmese military junta. It is being discussed at a time when the presence in the same Commission of tyrannies and dictatorships is being debated. It is being discussed at a time when world democracies have recently created the Democracy Caucus and are about to meet together in Santiago del Chile for the Third Ministerial Conference of Communities of Democracies to create and reinforce a policy based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, rather than on real politik.

We consider it to be extremely important for the European Commission to reconfirm the sanctions adopted by the same Commission and by a number of resolutions of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe and to reconsider the Taylor/Pedersen report, also in light of cooperation both with those international human rights organizations most committed to the Burmese situation and with the Burmese pro-democracy organizations that are under constant risk of deportation, torture and death because of their work.

We believe that the Taylor/Pedersen report should immediately be made public and open to debate and analysis by the European Parliament, rather than remain secret in the parallel agendas of the European bureaucracies.
Finally, we would like to re-launch the appeal begun by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since 2003, and by her supporters in the free world, first of all the Western democracies: “Please, use your liberty to promote ours”.


Transnational Radical Party (TRP)
Unrepresented Nations and People Organisation (UNPO)
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ)
Hands off Cain (HOC)
International Antiprohibitionist League (IAL)
Radicali Italiani