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AFP/AP_8.4.97:U.N.RIGHTS DEBATES IN
Subject: AFP/AP_8.4.97:U.N.RIGHTS DEBATES INTENSIFYING
EUR: EU PROCEEDS WITH RIGHTS RESOLUTIONS DESPITE NO CHINA ACCORD
by Angus MacKinnon of Agence France-Presse
NOORDWIJK, Netherlands, April 7 AFP - European Union foreign
ministers agreed here today to go ahead with UN resolutions
criticising the human rights record of Burma, Zaire, Iraq and Iran
despite failing to reach accord on a similar condemnation of China.
The move overcame a standoff when the EU's Dutch presidency
threatened not to table any resolutions at the UN's Human Rights
Commission's annual meeting in Geneva after France blocked a common
EU stance on China.
The EU has jointly sponsored a resolution critical of China in
Geneva every year since 1989.
French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said the EU's
presidency had to be bound by decisions agreed by the 15 member
"We continue to say that China has to be treated differently
than other less important states," he said.
France's stance that it is better to pursue a dialogue with
China than to seek confrontation is supported by Germany, Italy and
Spain but these three countries were willing to go along with the
resolution in the name of EU unity if Paris lifted its veto.
Britain's junior foreign minister David Davies acknowledged the
row had left the EU's human rights strategy looking "inconsistent,"
but that it was still better to proceed with the other resolutions.
"We regretted frankly that we were not able to get a common
position on China," he said.
Britain had been particularly keen on a resolution being
presented this year because of Beijing's moves to curtail civil
liberties in Hong Kong in the countdown to the colony's return to
Chinese rule this summer.
Denmark has announced it will table a separate resolution on
China later this week in Geneva with the backing of the United
States and a majority of EU states.
"I would have very much preferred to see the EU agreeing on a
resolution as it has done in previous years," Danish Foreign
Minister Niels Helveg Petersen said here.
But China slammed Denmark's plans.
"I can say that relations between China and Denmark will be
seriously damaged politically and economically if Denmark really
insists on this resolution," said foreign ministry spokesman Shen
"It will be the biggest loser," he told a media briefing on
improvements in China's human rights situation.
Denmark however vowed to press ahead with its plans.
"We have made our decision, and it is firm," Petersen said.
Human rights groups believe France's stance on the resolution is
motivated by a concern not to jeopardise a major contract for
Airbus planes that French President Jacques Chirac is expected to
clinch on a visit to Beijing next month.
French officials denied Paris was responding to pressure from
the Chinese over the Airbus deal. There had been some evolution in
China's human rights performance which could justify a less
confrontational approach, they said.
Petersen rejected this analysis. "I accept that there have been
certain changes in China concerning penal legislation. But on other
issues there has certainly been no progress.
"I disagree with the French assessment that what has happened
should lead to us not tabling the resolution."
Petersen said the dispute was indicative of a fundamental
problem faced by the European Union as it seeks to forge a common
"In practice the big countries always stand on their right to go
their own way."
ASIA: SUU KYI URGES INTERNATIONAL ACTION TO PROTECT HER PARTY
BURMA SUUKYI (EMBARGOED)
(EMBARGOED TO 1400 GMT - 2400 AEST- TUESDAY, APRIL 8)
BANGKOK, Thailand, April 8 AP - Burmese democracy leader Aung
San Suu Kyi has appealed in videotape smuggled from Rangoon for
strong action by other nations to protect members of her political
party from the military government.
The tape, seen in Bangkok, was to be played before the United
Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva later today.
The regime has denied the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
access to the country. Suu Kyi has been under virtual house arrest
since November and messages from her have been increasingly rare.
"I put the political rights of the National League for Democracy
and others working for democracy in Burma as the most important
item on the agenda of the Human Rights Commission," Suu Kyi said.
The tape was made before a parcel bomb exploded Sunday night at
the home of Lieutenant General Tin Oo, one of the four most
powerful generals of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council. The general's eldest daughter was killed, but he escaped
No one has claimed responsibility for the blast and the
government has yet to accuse anyone. Suu Kyi's party espouses
political change through non-violent means.
The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner said her party's rights were
of paramount importance because all other democratic political
parties operating on a national level in Burma already had been
crushed by the government.
The NLD won 82 percent of the vote in a 1990 national election
that the military refused to honor. A UN General Assembly
resolution that year called on Burma's authorities to respect the
election results and institute democracy.
Suu Kyi urged the United Nations to see that the resolution was
implemented and not to "just regard it as a piece of paper."
Since May 1996, the military government has staged a series of
increasingly harsh crackdowns on Suu Kyi's party, arresting
hundreds and sentencing many to long prison terms.
Several party members have been forced to resign under threats
from the government, Suu Kyi said, and others have been rounded up
by the army to be used to carry equipment in battle zones.
"We need maximum attention on what is happening to the NLD," Suu
Kyi said, "because it is an indication of how far the authorities
are prepared to go to prevent democracy from taking root in Burma."
Suu Kyi also urged the Thai government to stop forcing Karen
refugees back to Burma and to allow the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees to help them.
"We would like the Thai government to look upon these refugees
with compassion," she said.
More than 15,000 Karens have fled a recent Burmese army
offensive, joining an estimated 70,000 refugees from Burma already
living in Thailand. The Thai government has refused the UNHCR
access to the camps, and has denied forcing anyone back.
The refugees, Thai village militiamen and some Thai soldiers
have told The Associated Press that refugees have been forced back.
The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and human
rights groups have urged Thailand to stop forced repatriations.
Suu Kyi called unrest between Buddhist monks and Muslims in
Burma a symptom of "social unrest related to political
dissatisfaction and economic problems."
Buddhist monks ransacked mosques in several cities last month
after reports a Buddhist girl had been raped by Muslim men.
"Forced labour is a daily business in Burma," Suu Kyi added,
charging that many children were suffering because of it.
The European Union stripped Burma of its trading privileges with
the economic bloc in March because of evidence of forced labour in