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Greens commend Burma sanctions and call for end to Australian profiteering

The Australian Greens today commended the Foreign Minister for strengthening sanctions against the Burmese military regime, but warned against Australian companies profiteering.

"The Greens congratulate the Foreign Minister for taking action to increase the pressure and reiterate Australia's call for democracy in Burma," said Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

"Now the next crucial step is to clamp down on Australian investors who are still doing business with the regime."

"We must restrict the profiteering of Australians in Burma. Commercial engagements between Australian investors and the regime legitimise and normalise the regime and their actions. These can and must be stopped."

In July 2008, Senator Ludlam joined Burmese pro-democracy advocates at the premises of William Clough in Nedlands, Western Australia, to deliver messages from hundreds of supporters demanding that Mr Clough withdraw from oil and gas exploration in Burma.

"This is exactly the kind of commercial activity the Australian Government should move to prevent," Senator Ludlam said.

"On the first anniversary of the Saffron Revolution, the Senate supported a motion urging the Government to increase its efforts to restore democracy in Burma."

"The Government needs to assess how much Australian investment is flowing into the Burmese regime and act now to close it off," he concluded.

The motion specified that Australia:

(i) Use all diplomatic means available to encourage the Burmese regime to release Daw Aung San Sui Kyi and all political prisoners; engage in genuine dialogue with pro-democracy and ethnic representatives towards democratic reform and national reconciliation;

(ii) Work actively with the UN to ensure that its good offices role delivers progress, including on the release of political prisoners;

(iii) Maintain pressure on the Burmese regime to engage in reform through targeted financial sanctions and travel restrictions;

(iv) Urge the Burmese regime to respect the fundamental human rights of the Burmese people, including freedom of religion;

(v) Evaluate what other measures the Government can take to support the Burmese pro-democracy movement.

The Foreign Minister's statement can be viewed here.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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