Release af political prisoners in Burma: Long overdue, more of the same please

 Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Søvndal and Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach are pleased that political prisoners were released in Burma earlier this week while noting, at the same time, that a release was long overdue and should be followed by more. 

 The following is an unofficial translation into English of their statements made in Copenhagen Thursday afternoon. Original versions in Danish can be found here at the Danish Foreign Ministry’s website.

Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal:

”I have noted with great interest that the Burmese regime yesterday conducted an amnesty releasing a number of prisoners. I am pleased that political prisoners, including some well-known dissidents, are among those released, while I also note that their release was long overdue. We are talking about people who should never have been put behind bars in the first place. And we know, regrettably, that many more political prisoners still remain in Burmese jails.

Denmark and the EU have consistently advocated the release of all political prisoners in Burma. I hope that yesterday’s release signals that the move towards gradual political reform and dialogue with democratic forces, of which we have seen signs in Burma over the last few months, will continue and accelerate. That is needed.
Denmark will monitor the situation closely and keep in close contact with Burma’s democratic opposition, including Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, NLD. And we will discuss with other EU and Nordic countries and with other international partners how best to support further positive developments.”

Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach:

”The latest release of a number of political prisoners in Burma follows a gradual easing by the Burmese regime over the past few months with respect to certain aspects of democracy and human rights, for instance freedom of the media. Clearly, there is a long way to go still but the release gives some nurture to our hope for a better future for the people of Burma.

Denmark has over many years supported Burma’s people through development cooperation, including in the area of human rights and democratisation where we work with a range of partners inside and outside Burma. It is essential that we in our engagement contribute to strengthening the capacity of national forces [in developing countries] to create and press for necessary change. Our efforts in Burma are a good example of that.”

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