Thein Sein visit a chance to take a strong stand for human rights in Burma
The visit of Burmese president U Thein Sein must be used by the Australian Government to promote human rights in Burma and press for a free and fair election in 2015, the Greens said today.
Australian Greens spokesperson on Burma Senator Scott Ludlam said the Government must put much more than trade on the tour agenda.
"Foreign Minister Bob Carr should offer Australia's assistance in ensuring the 2015 general election is conducted without intimidation and threat of imprisonment of candidates, so that all Burmese citizens - including those in the ethnic minority areas - can exercise their civil and political rights in the lead up to the poll.
"Minister Carr has been an enthusiastic supporter of business with Burma - but despite some progress the situation in that country remains grim. Uncritically embracing the current regime will remove their incentive for further reform.
"The military continues to dominate the country, and several hundred political prisoners are still incarcerated in prisons across the country. One quarter of the seats in Parliament are automatically held by the army and the rest of the parliament is dominated by pro-junta candidates elected in the rigged general poll of 2010.
"While the violent persecution of ethnic minorities such as the Rohingya and Kachin peoples goes on, while the Generals dominate the country and its commerce and industry, the rush to profit from trade with Burma will only strengthen the military's grip on power, and shatter the hopes of the Burmese people."