Burmese Given Strong Message

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Don McKinnon delivered a strong message to Myanmars Foreign Minister U Ohn Gyaw at the ASEAN meeting in Jakarta yesterday evening.

New Zealand is seriously concerned about the human rights situation in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and the lack of progress towards political reconciliation Mr McKinnon told him.

Its very disappointing that a year after the release of National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi the political situation appears to have worsened, Mr McKinnon said.

The detention of supporters of the NLD is a retrograde step. Some are still in custody and this is disturbing.

I asked the Foreign Minister to convey to his Government our wish to see early action to alleviate political tensions and start a political dialogue with opposition leaders as well as with ethnic minorities.

While New Zealand is prepared to go along with the policy of constructive engagement, whereby Myanmar has been admitted as an observer to ASEAN, the international community also wants to see greater liberalisation and respect for human rights inside Myanmar, he said.

Mr McKinnon observed international concern about the situation in Myanmar also stemmed from the possibility political tensions there could escalate and have spill over effects on regional security and stability.