Thank you for the opportunity to raise this matter on the Adjournment.
Aung San Suu Kyi is 45 years old and the daughter of a hero of the Burmese independence struggle against British colonial rule and Japanese occupation. Her father was assassinated in 1947. She married Michael Aris, a British academic, and has two sons.
She returned to Burma — now called the Union of Myanmar — to nurse her dying mother and while she was there became involved in political affairs when the man who had ruled Burma from 1962 announced he was resigning and that a referendum would be held to decide on the political future of the country. However, his party refused to agree to a referendum and political turmoil ensued.
Later that year the army staged a coup but they also promised free elections. Suu Kyi formed a political party with some of her supporters and called it The National League for Democracy — NLD. It was a non-violent organisation with strong proposals on human rights.
On 20 July 1989 Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest. Her husband tried to visit his wife and two sons but was allowed to do so only under the same terms of house arrest as she was under. He returned to England to bring his two sons back to school and that was the last time she was allowed to see her sons whose Burmese passports have been declared invalid. This was an obvious ploy to get her to leave the country also. He husband was allowed to visit her for two weeks for Christmas 1989 and that is the last time he saw her.
On 27 May 1990 the election took place and the National League for Democracy won 392 of the 485 seats contested or over 80 per cent of the vote, this despite the fact that she had not been able to canvass and was held under house arrest for ten months before the election.
The last letter her family had from her was in July of last year and every attempt to regain contact has failed. It is understood that she has recently been on hunger strike and that she is ill but there is no solid information about this.
Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year and has been refused permission to collect it. The UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Mr. Yokota, was in Burma in September of this year and asked to be allowed to visit her. His request was refused.
A lengthy letter to us from the Ambassador for the Union of Myanmar to Germany said in effect that they are committed to an orderly transfer to democracy, that they resent "excessively emotional and one-sided" foreign interference in their internal affairs, that they believe human rights to be of fundamental importance "provided it is distinct from external political ambitions and if it is not used as a means to champion the sectarian interests of certain groups or individuals within a country". In my view he is clearly using the fact that she married an Englishman and her sons are half English as a weapon against her. He claims that there are no political prisoners in Myanmar, that a new government cannot be installed before a new constitution is agreed and that terrorist groups are active necessitating such emergency legislation as exists.
The Workers' Party asks the Irish Government to call on the Government of Burma/Myanmar to release the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, from house arrest; to release all other non-violent political activists and dissidents at present under detention and to restore civil and political liberties. We also call on the Government of Burma/ Myanmar to allow immediate access to Aung San Suu Kyi by a doctor and an international humanitarian organisation, such as the Red Cross or Amnesty International.
It is important that the Irish Government make direct representations and not simply incorporate their representations under EC representations or, indeed, United Nations representations.