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Carr pushes trade with Burma while regime still uses child soldiers

While the Australian Government pushes open slather trade with Burma, the country is plagued by sectarian violence and the continued use of child soldiers by the Burmese government, the Greens said today.

Greens spokesperson on Burma, Senator Scott Ludlam, said "the resource-rush which appears to be driving Australian foreign policy on Burma may perversely end up consolidating the regime's hold on power and attendant human rights abuses. The Australian Government should urgently rethink its sanctions policy, lest ‘constructive engagement' end up as complicity".

"The Government pushed Europe and other countries to permanently lift trade sanctions on Burma, and has encouraged Australian companies to invest. At the same time violent anti-Muslim pogroms have plagued Burma, often with the complicity of authorities, and the Burmese military continues to use child soldiers.

"Human Rights Watch reported today that one year into the Burma-UN action plan, the Burmese military still includes children as young as ten.

"Tens of thousands of Muslim Rohingya people were forced to flee Arakan/Rakhine state last year and 130,000 now live in refugee camps. Today reports have emerged that a mosque and a Muslim orphanage in Burma were burned down by extremist mobs, and police discovered a weapons cache in a Buddhist ‘monastery'.

"The use of child soldiers and violence from racist gangs are just two elements of the Burmese crisis: The army has caused widespread destruction in its attacks on the Kachin people, and a report has been sent to the International Labour Organisation claiming that Rohingya women are being forced into sexual slavery by the military.

"The rush to open Burma for business has eroded the leverage for reform, allowing the army to continue to dominate the political system and trample human rights. The Australian Government must reconsider its enthusiasm for cutting deals with a dictatorship."

Human Rights Watch report:


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