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Full trade embargo on Burma needed now

The Australian Greens have called on the Federal Government to take a strong stand against the ruling Burmese junta's violent repression of its own people.

"Having completed their sham election, the dictators of Burma are concentrating on brutalising ethnic minorities and anyone it suspects of supporting democratic groups within the country," said Senator Scott Ludlam. "Many people have been killed and about 10,000 refugees have fled from Burma into Thailand as the Burmese army moves to crush any resistance to its bloody rule."

Senator Ludlam called on the Australian Government to support "a full trade embargo on the country and to prevent Australian investors from profiting from their partnerships with the military regime".

"The Burmese democracy movement has called on the world to embargo Burma and we must listen. Australian companies that trade with the Burmese regime should be held to account - they should face severe penalties for helping to prop up a dictatorship," said Senator Ludlam. "Strongly worded statements are not enough, we need strong action."

During the rigged election violence spread to Burma's Three Pagodas Pass and the border town of Myawaddy. Thousands who have fled over the border are sheltering in the Thai town of Mae Sot but the Friendship Bridge between the two countries has been closed. Earlier this year Senator Ludlam visited the town of Mae Sot and is gravely concerned for the welfare of the people he met there.

"Many ethnic groups, including the Karen, have long been subjected to horrendous treatment by the regime and were excluded from the poll," said Senator Ludlam. "Countless reports of vote rigging have emerged and 25 percent of seats will be taken automatically by the military; this election couldn't be more of a farce."

The mock election is the first poll since the National League for Democracy won 392 of 492 seats in parliament in 1990. The military junta ignored that result and attempted to crush the movement. The leader of the democracy movement, Daw Aung San Suu Kyii, has been under house arrest for the past 15 years. The Australian Greens call for her immediate release.


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