Burmese PM-in-exile in Belfast demands arms export controls

A busy day beckons tomorrow (Thursday) as the Burmese PM-in-exile, Dr Sein Win, arrives in town, with Amnesty as hosts.

As well as a meeting with OFMDFM at Stormont Castle, there are party group meetings at the Assembly with representatives of most of the main parties, followed by a public meeting at Queen's University Students' Union at 6:30pm (all welcome - 3rd floor).

Dr Sein Win will be calling on our local politicians to live up to their fine words at the Assembly a couple of weeks ago, when they all expressed solidarity with the oppressed people of Burma. Specifically, he'll be asking them to help stop the flow of weapons to the Burmese generals, who rule the country with a fist of iron.

Amnesty recently revealed how Northern Ireland companies could be - perhap unwittingly - helping to arm the generals through the supply of components and technology, which end up in Chinese attack jets, which are then sold to the Burmese dictators. Download the full report, Northern Ireland: Arming the World, here.

All this, despite arms embargoes of one sort or another, on both China and Burma. The problem is the laxity of arms export controls in the UK and the EU generally (as well as on a global level) and that's what the Burmese pro-democracy leaders, and Amnesty, want to see our local politicians address.

Let's see if the MLAs meant all the nice things they said during the Assembly debate or will they baulk at actually doing something, beyond posturing, to help the Burmese?

As I recall, there wasn't too much support in the Assembly chamber for Martina Anderson, when she dared to raise the issue of a degree of possible local involvement in arming the generals. Maybe that was down to the messenger, not the message, and the Burmese people's exiled leader will fare better. What do you think?

I'll let you know after tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's a video update on Burma from Amnesty - interviews with monks and activists who have fled for their lives over the border into Thailand:

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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