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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

Burma’s crisis will not be overlooked says US first lady Laura Bush

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 24 September (Asiantribune.com): America’s first lady Laura Bush, convening a roundtable discussion of experts to discuss what could be done to ensure the release of political prisoners, promote national reconciliation and restore democracy and highlight the repressive and destabilizing situation in Burma said on September 19 in New York that U.S. will work diligently with the U.N. Security Council to ensure that the crisis in Burma is not overlooked. Laura Bush initiated roundtable discussion Laura Bush initiated roundtable discussion

The discussion dominated the issue of regime’s treatment of democracy activist and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for most of the past 17 years.

United Nations Under Secretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari is scheduled to visit Burma in October, and the UN Security Council is expected to meet him before and after his return from Burma. Mr. Gambari last visited Burma in May and met with Burma’s military junta Senior General Than Shwe.

On September 15, after a yearlong effort, the United States succeeded in having the situation in Burma officially placed on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council. (See Asian Tribune report of 16 September captioned U.S. gets U.N Security Council to review situation in Burma)

According to the State Department human trafficking has become a major problem in the country.

In its Trafficking in Person report for 2006, the State Department said Burma does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and "is not making significant effort to do so."

Burmese men, women and children are trafficked to Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Korea and Macau for domestic service, forced and bonded labor in industrial zones and agricultural estates, and prostitution, according to the report. The regime’s economic mismanagement, human rights abuses and forced labor policy are driving factors behind the country’s large human trafficking problem, the U.S. State Department report says.

The participants at this Laura Bush initiated roundtable discussion presented very valuable information and facts. Most Burmese are too poor to afford medicine, but even those who can are getting inadequate doses because the drugs available to them are rather counterfeit or below par, it was revealed.

Because the government is not spending sufficient money on health issues, the country also has drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis and malaria that easily can be transmitted across borders.

It was also revealed that about 200,000 refugees who have fled conflict and persecution in Burma now live in Thailand, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh. As many as 3,000 ethnic Karen refugees entered Thailand in 2006 after several military offensives against opposition forces in Burma.

"We want to call attention to the situation in Burma and the threat that its policies pose to the region and, more broadly, to the fact the government of Burma’s policies are not changing," U.S. Ambassador to U.N. John Bolton said.

The Laura Bush led roundtable discussion brought a positive message: the United States will not stand idle in the midst of Burma’s deteriorating situation.

- Asian Tribune -

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