Burma activists conclude meeting in Barcelona

Feb 9, 2009 (DVB), Burmese democracy campaigners in Europe agreed to oppose the planned 2010 elections and pressure the European Union for strong action on Burma at a meeting in Spain this weekend.

The twice-yearly meeting of the Forum of Burmese in Europe and the European Burma Network was held in Barcelona on 7 and 8 February.

About 20 people attended the FBE meeting which followed up on the recent Members of Parliament Union meeting in Dublin, Ireland, and discussed the National Council of the Union of Burma’s new year statement announcing plans to form a rival government in exile.

The participants also discussed how to approach the military regime's planned 2010 elections.

The EBN meeting was attended by about 50 people attended and also discussed the 2010 elections and how to urge the EU to focus more on Burmese issues.

Soe Aung, the foreign department joint secretary of the Democratic Alliance of Burma, said the EBN conference had resolved to campaign to release political prisoners, oppose the 2010 elections, and end human rights abuses in eastern Burma.

Zoya Phan, international coordinator of Burma Campaign UK, said she was very happy to have a chance to talk about ethnic reconciliation at the meeting.

"In order to bring about achievements in peace building and democratic reform in Burma, we, the ethnic groups of Burma and all the democracy movement forces should join hands together," she said.

Kyaw Thwin, a people’s parliament representative from Khayan township who is now exiled in Norway, outlined the resolutions made at the FBE meeting.

"The FBE meeting agreed to denounce the Burmese government’s 2010 elections and also the 2008 constitution and to oppose the elections by any means possible," he said.

He also urged the Spanish government to give priority to Burma when it takes over the European Union Presidency in January 2010.

"Spain is going to take over the EU presidency soon and we have met with congress leaders in Barcelona who promised they will be give more emphasis to Burmese issues during the six month term," he said.

"We will be pushing EU member countries to impose harsher sanctions against the Burmese government and to put more effort into bringing humanitarian aid directly to civilians."

Kyaw Thwin said the conference had also agreed to put forward the Burmese monks and nuns who led peaceful protests in September 2007 for nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw and Yee May Aung

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