Burma and Human Rights

As Amnesty Colwyn Bay members prepared to march through the streets of Llandudno to draw attention to the human rights abuses in Burma, they had no idea that after 20 years of ruthless dictatorship by the Military Junta and the torture, imprisonment and killing of dissenting voices, there may be hope on the horizon.

In recent days Thein Sein, the President of Burma, has announced the release of a further 500 political prisoners along with other reforms such as new media laws and a move to a restricted form of democracy.  On his visit to USA, where more sanctions imposed on Burma by the USA have been lifted, Sein conceded that he would be willing to step down if the people made it clear that they wanted Aung San Suu Kiy, the leader of the opposition National League of Democracy, to take his place. 

As we marched along Llandudno’s streets in September 2010 we could not have dreamt of such changes afoot.  Aung San Suu Kiy had been imprisoned or in house arrest for almost 20 years.  An estimated 2,200 political prisoners and human rights campaigners were being held in terrible conditions in Burmese jails. But Amnesty members maintain the belief that we must fight for human rights however bleak the prospects look.

Our action on Burma included an exhibition of stunning photographs and stories of Burmese political prisoners, a DVD made by a Burmese activist and an opportunity to sign a petition to the Burmese government to urge them to release prisoners of conscience and another to Welsh MEPs to call on them to influence the European Union to exert pressure on Burma’s Military Junta to improve human rights in their country.

How encouraging the future for Burma is looking in September 2012 but we must remain vigilant and despite the euphoria about how fast changes are happening in the country, there remain many more steps to be taken before human rights are upheld in Burma  

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