The Australian Greens have welcomed Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's long-overdue entry into parliament but urged the Australian Government and international community to remain vigilant on human rights in Burma.
Greens Burma spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said the by-elections that brought Aung San Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy members into parliament elected only 45 of a possible 664 seats in Burma's legislature.
"The election of Daw Aung San and her colleagues is a milestone, but the road is long. One quarter of the seats in Burma's parliament are guaranteed to the military, the rest were filled mostly by pro-junta candidates in the rigged general election carried out according to Burma's corrupt and massively flawed constitution. If we and other nations are not careful, these by-elections could prove to be a false dawn."
"The announcement last month that our government is "normalising trade" with Burma is dangerously premature. Normalised trade links would be very difficult to reverse if the junta refuses to loosen its grip on power. Relaxing sanctions while the military continues to control Burma could sign a death warrant for the democracy movement."
Senator Ludlam is submitting a series of questions on Burma to foreign minister Bob Carr.
"We understand that an Australian business delegation to Burma is being organised by his Department and/or the Australian Ambassador to Burma. I will be asking for confirmation of this, and for details on which companies are involved and with whom they will meet. Senator Carr will also need to explain how any business deals reached will be reversed if democratic reforms in Burma don't continue, and why the Australian Government is normalising trade with Burma while that country is still plagued by a highly undemocratic constitution, military offensives against ethnic minorities, and the imprisonment of political dissidents."
"Australia's position to date has been to neither encourage nor discourage business investment in Burma. Australian oil and gas companies have helped prop up the regime with funding. According to a recent report by the Arakan Oil Watch, billions of dollars in revenues from the sale of natural gas have gone unrecorded in Burma's public accounts and been siphoned off by corrupt military rulers. Normalised trade will only encourage this trend, and weaken Australia's negotiating hand on reforms."