MPs from 8 European countries have come together to form a new Parliamentary
caucus on Burma. The new caucus is launched to coincide with the 63rd
birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi – the detained leader of Burma’s democracy
movement. They hope to recruit more than 200 MPs to the caucus before the
end of the year.

The caucus aims to raise awareness of Burma in Europe and pressure European
governments to do more to bring about democratic transition in Burma. The 7
key objectives are:

· To seek stronger action on Burma from European governments, the
European Union, the United Nations Security Council, and other governments
and international institutions.

· To foster contacts with our fellow MPs from Burma.

· To foster contacts with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on
Myanmar, and other Asian MPs.

· To put forward motions, questions, and initiate debates on Burma in
our Parliaments.

· To provide monthly updates on the situation in Burma for European MPs.

· To cultivate links with civil society organisations knowledgeable
about Burma.

· To act as a strong public voice for democratisation in Burma.

John Bercow, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary group for Democracy in
Burma in the British Parliament said: “We are creating this European
Parliamentary Caucus on Burma because it will enable parliamentarians from
across Europe to share information and to lobby together for more effective
measures to bring the regime to heel and to speed up the progress to
democracy for the long suffering people of Burma.”

Renate Weber, Member of the European Parliament, Romania, said: “I believe
we shouldn’t need climatic catastrophes in order to have an increased
international attention to the human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar. The
international community should focus constantly and without sparing any
efforts on supporting the country to pave its way to a democratic society.”

Petr Bratsky, Member of Parliament, Czech Republic: “The empowerment of
democracy and human rights all around the world support our democracy, too.
Our help to Burma is only a small payment for the support, which we have
received from established democracies in times of more than 40 years long
communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia.”

Irish MP Simon Coveney said:
“Today is Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday. It has been used in recent years to
focus the attention of the international community on the continuing plight
of the people of Burma. The last twelve months has seen thousands of monks
demonstrating for openness and democracy in Burma followed by a violent and
crushing putdown by the military junta. More recently, the misery of the
Burmese people was compounded by a cyclone which has killed over 100,000
people and displaced hundreds of thousands of families. Despite the human
suffering, we see the continuing intransigence, cruelty, obsession with
power and refusal by the military leaders to accept international standards
and norms. For all of these reasons, the setting up of the European
Parliamentary Caucus on Burma is more necessary now than ever to continue to
focus political attention at the highest level on the need to bring about
democratic reform and a respect for human rights in a country that yearns
for change. Having been to Burma and met many Burmese people in exile, it is
a honour to be a part of this new group which hopefully will have a
meaningful impact.”

Glenys Kinnock, MEP for Wales in the UK, said: “Parliamentary engagement is
essential as we strive to meet our many global challenges, not least when
voices need to be raised in support of freedom and fairness. In Burma,
though the media spotlight may have faded, the people continue to face
appalling suffering and the elected and legitimate parliament and government
are ruthlessly silenced. In forming this European Parliamentary Caucus, we
stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are fighting to restore democracy
and human rights in Burma. The Caucus will be a strong and determined
collective voice calling for action.”

The other MPs founding the EPCB are Spanish MP Carmen Garcia, Estonian MP
Silver Meikar, and Slovakian MP Laszlo Nagy.

Administrative support for the European Parliamentary caucus on Burma is
being provided by Burma Campaign UK and People In Need in the Czech
Republic. For more information contact Zoya Phan at Burma Campaign UK on
020 7324 4710 , or Marie Zahradníková on +420 739 220 248.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the world’s only imprisoned Nobel laureate. Leader of
the National League for Democracy, her party won 82 percent of seats in
parliament in elections in 1990, but was never allowed to take power. During
three periods of house arrest she has been held for a total of 12 years and
236 days.

Aung San Suu Kyi is allowed no visitors, her phone line is cut and her post
intercepted. The regime refuse to allow her doctor to make regular visits.
She is not allowed to see her two sons, grandchildren, family, friends or
colleagues as all visitors are banned. Her phone line is cut and her post is
intercepted. Her current period of detention began on 30th May 2003,
following the Depayin massacre in which up to a hundred of her supporters
were beaten to death by a regime militia.

Burma has been ruled by dictatorship since 1962. The current regime came to
power in 1988. There are more than 1,800 political prisoners in Burma, and
in Eastern Burma the regime is engaged in a war of ethnic cleansing, burning
and looting villages, using rape as a weapon of war, slave labour, torture,
mutilations as well as blocking aid to the area. In 1997 the regime brutally
suppressed a peaceful uprising led by monks, and in May 2008 the regime
provoked international outrage by denying aid to cyclone survivors.