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CDB President's speech on the 29 May 99


Honoured Guests, Fellow Activists for Democracy in Burma, Sympathisers and Supporters --- Thank you for joining the Committee for Democracy in Burma in this annual function to commemorate the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy in the 1990 general elections. This historical victory could not be implemented because of obstacles and barriers created by the generals who control Burma. Generals who have made Burma into one monstrous prison where everyday life of every single man, woman and child is controlled; where there is no freedom, no law, no justice.

As you all know, last year Daw Aung San Suu Kyi gave notice and declared that the NLD would convene Parliament in accordance with the wishes of the people. Ever since that day an operation with military precision has been put into place

Who are they fooling? You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time. We say to the generals, "You are fooling yourselves".

You proclaim that the "rule of law" will prevail. You break the laws you make. You tell the world that there are no political prisoners in Burma. Does anyone believe you? You say that there are no human rights violations in Burma? You have lost all sense of what is right and wrong..

The International Labour Organisation's Commission of Inquiry has accused you of condoning crimes against humanity by resorting on a massive scale to forced labour in the running of the country's economy. It found you "guilty of an international crime that is also, if committed in a widespread or systematic manner, a crime against humanity". Amnesty International has documented the practice of forced labour in Burma for over ten years and observed that it has increased dramatically during the last seven years, involving hundreds and thousands of civilians, including criminal and political prisoners.

President Clinton has extended sanctions by one year and he stated that "As long as the generals continue its policies of committing large-scale repression of the democratic opposition in Burma, this situation continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

PERSIST, PERSEVERE AND PRESS ON - This is the message printed on the dinner tickets to night. This is the message for all our fellow activists. Rotten things can happen to good people but our strength lies in HOPE, which permits us to endure and win. The refugees, the political prisoners, those who have lost loved ones in the battle for Democracy - why have they not caved in? It is because they have

It is our duty

To those friends who give of their time and labour for Burma's cause - on behalf of the Burmese community - I entreat you to please keep on going on and do not quit. Do not ask others to quit also. Let us use their strengths and be grateful for everything they have done for us. Every individual, every group, every letter, every expression of support counts and we need every bit. Let us PRESS ON for Democracy, which we know, will come to Burma soon.

Can anyone swim against the tide of events in Asia and the international arena? Can anyone turn back the clock? If the people who hold power in Burma now do not take steps to diffuse the political crisis that has lasted for over a decade, someone else will do it for them. As a first step political prisoners should be released and the generals should indicate their own willingness to change. If they are not blind, they will see the writing on the wall. Their own astrologers will have told them that the time has come for change.

are factors that have changed the political climate outside of Burma.

Violators of human rights are facing the application of international laws. The message is loud and clear. Wake up- you generals. Your days are numbered. See what has happened to General Pinochet. You all could well be in the same position. Before Burma becomes the 'Yugoslavia of Asia' take stock and work for national harmony and reconciliation. You think you can develop Burma and modernise it by suppression and subjugation. Hitler couldn't. The Emperor of Japan couldn't. Stalin couldn't. Mao Tse Tung couldn't. Before we go into the thirtieth century, be brave enough to show the world that you truly love your country and that MIGHT IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT